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By Nic Paton on 31 Mar 2016 in Occupational Health, Return to work and rehabilitation, Sickness absence management

Getting line managers to support, engage with and “buy into” the return-to-work process is the most effective way of reducing both long- and short-term sickness absence, a study has argued.

The poll of 339 employers found that the top five most effective means of managing absence were deemed to be:

  • improving line managers’ buy-in to taking an active role in absence management (18.3%);
  • introducing a new or revised absence policy (9.7%);
  • providing line managers with training in absence management (8.9%);
  • providing absence statistics to line managers (8.2%); and
  • improving how return-to-work interviews are conducted and what they discuss (7.4%).

Of these, the role of the line manager stood out above all else as being the key to successful and effective absence management, . For short-term sickness absence, line managers could play a key role in reducing ad hoc or unnecessary time off by accurately measuring and proactively managing absence among employees; for example, through the use of return-to-work interviews.

For long-term sickness absence, line managers again had a crucial role to play in maintaining regular contact with the employees concerned

Paton also emphasised the need for intervention and support options to assist employees with return to work programmes