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The Pillars of Leave Management: The Importance Of Peripheral Vision In Absence Management

This year, Presagia's team has been honored to contribute a column in each issue of the Disability Management Employer Coalition's (DMEC) publication, @Work Magazine. Our column, 'The Pillars of Leave Management,' has explored several core elements of a strong leave management strategy, which we're sharing in this blog series!

If you haven't already, we recommend that before reading this blog, you check out the first three pillars that we've already posted:

Pillar 1: Extracting Data To Support Your Leave Management Efforts 

Pillar 2: The Intersection of the FMLA and the ADA

Pillar 3: Assessing Exposure to Mental Illness Risk

In this fourth column, we talk about how the concept of 'peripheral vision' can help you be more strategic in your absence management efforts. 

Pillar 4: The Importance Of Peripheral Vision In Absence Management

A leave manager checks their side mirror and considers the importance of peripheral vision in leave management

One core concept encapsulates our organization’s entire theory about absence management compliance: peripheral vision.

When I first entered the absence management world, I learned this concept from attorney Frank Alvarez, a Principal with Jackson Lewis PC. Alvarez continually emphasized the importance of seeing all the pieces of the absence management puzzle, and urged us to build systems that addressed all absence management compliance considerations, not just the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

As you consider this, you should also recognize the importance of scanning across your entire organization to gather all information needed to make informed decisions. You can use technology to bring all this information into one central place and highlight the most important.

With enough information, you can be more strategic in your approach to absence management. But how do you structure your absence management program and systems to capture the necessary data to identify trends, illuminate strengths, pinpoint compliance risk, and get the most out of your workforce?

My team and I revisited and updated our “peripheral vision” concept and practices to help you do just that.

1. Harness The Power Of Technology

You likely have numerous systems that house valuable pieces of the absence data puzzle, such as your leave, human resources (HR), payroll, and attendance systems. Ideally, these systems need to be integrated to provide a holistic picture of absence and trends across your workforce. Design your leave management technology so that employee demographics, work location, hours worked, dates of hire, and more feed in from HR or payroll. If you report absences into your payroll or attendance systems, you’ll want these feeding into your leave system. Some leave data is also relevant for pay; consider sending a feed from your leave system back into payroll.

2. Get Everyone On The Same Page

Bring all your stakeholders to the table to understand who holds what pieces of information around absence. For instance, are supervisors the first to learn that an employee is taking an intermittent FMLA day, or do employees call a shared services center to report their time? Train each stakeholder on their part in the process, and give them effective ways to quickly communicate this information, which is necessary for peripheral vision.

3. Know The Laws

Though no one expects you to become a legal expert, you should become knowledgeable on leave laws and their compliance issues. The FMLA is just the starting point; you also need to know about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), state laws, and local laws. Peripheral vision requires a broad understanding of your rights, obligations, and compliance issues as an employer.

4. Report And Learn

Reporting is essential for you to analyze all aspects of your program, from the individual employee who seems to be using too much FMLA leave, to the larger trends across your workforce. Having insight into your data will give you the peripheral vision needed to address compliance and better manage absence as a whole. Discussions with your peers in HR, payroll, and attendance could identify particular monthly reports with potentially useful information for your leave management effort, even before you achieve integration with their programs.

By setting peripheral vision as a goal, you will embark on the path toward a more data-driven absence management program, with mission critical data at your fingertips. The knowledge you gain will increase your compliance capabilities and confidence, and you can become more strategic in how you manage your employees.

Read The Other Blog Posts In This Series: 

Pillar 1: Extracting Data To Support Your Leave Management Efforts 

Pillar 2: The Intersection of the FMLA and the ADA

Pillar 3: Assessing Exposure to Mental Illness Risk

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