Line managers are key to return to work after sickness absence, survey finds

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 returning-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.

Want to find out more? Contact Mediright.