Conversation about staff attendance can quickly turn into conversation about school staff absences. But a shift in attitude away from managing absences to proactively focussing on attendance is one way of achieving and maintaining better levels.

And it all starts with assessing the reasons behind staff absences in schools to find ways in which they can be turned into attendance!

How to accurately record staff absences

In 2021/22, over 3.2 million working days were lost to staff absences in schools. When an absence is recorded, it’s easy to go into autopilot – you focus on getting cover sorted ASAP and then update your MIS. But does this make you feel like you’re actually in control of absences in your school?

Establishing and maintaining detailed absence records is an integral part of any HR team’s strategy to reduce absences. Being able to pin-point which staff members are off, for how long, and the reason(s) why, is information that lets you begin to build a plan to improve employee attendance. Be that on an individual or organisation-wide level.

How to spot absence trends

Take the following example: There’s a member of staff in your school who has taken time off around the same date for the last three years on the trot. Though each absence has been registered somewhere, the pattern of absence hasn’t been picked up. This could be thanks to:

  • Having new paper-based absence records each academic year with no reference to previous years
  • Inconsistencies between departments or sites in how absences are recorded, documented, and managed
  • The manual input of absence data into a spreadsheet that isn’t easily turned into insight!

Whatever the reason, your organisation isn’t just missing out on opportunities to identify a recurring absence pattern. It’s also reducing your opportunity to put proactive procedures into place that support staff members. This particular trend, for instance, might align with a particularly difficult personal time for this staff member. If you have this knowledge, then you’re better equipped to put support in place that encourages the employee to come to work.

What patterns are in staff absence data?

Similarly, stressful times or events during the academic year (think exams and Ofsted inspections!) tend to account for an upwards spike in absences. Not only does this increase pressure on the school or Trust – it also raises cause for concern. Could these higher levels of absence indicate a larger, wider issue, like low levels of staff wellbeing and/or a lack of employee support?

When you’ve got comprehensive information about not only who is absent, but the reason(s) why, you can begin to build the most detailed picture of overall staff morale. And that’s exactly what our staff Absence Management module enables!

Using Every HR to manage staff absences

The absence module of our HR software transforms all absence information into graphs and charts to enable you to really visualise and use the data. Overviews of the entire year’s absences or an individual’s attendance levels can be obtained from a central place, then filtered down for the finer details!

Whether that’s all absences over a certain time period or the absences recorded by a singular department, trends (and anomalies) can be easily identified. You become almost instantly equipped with the knowledge you need to make positive steps forward!

How to promote staff attendance

With this level of insight, schools and MATs can also identify the employees with the best attendance levels. This information can then be positively compared with wider employee performance, and patterns found. 

Like with students, demonstrating and celebrating the effects of strong staff attendance levels helps to promote a more enjoyable working environment. Attendance data contributes to so much more than its antiquated association of being used to penalise staff for not attending work. It’s a huge aid in getting to the core of attendance issues, and a powerful way of demonstrating the effects of strong attendance levels to staff and students alike.

Are you ready to transform absences into attendance?