How To Manage Leave In This Remote Culture
By Arleen Atienza
September 29 2021 - Remote working culture is growing ever more widespread, and it’s even bound to accelerate further in the near future. More and more employees view telecommuting as a major perk when applying for a job. Furthermore, the health crisis that shocked our world tested many businesses' ability to perform remotely, and they have had no adverse effects on employee productivity, effectiveness, or efficiency.
A study by the Kung Group found out that 76% of company founders said that their productivity either increased or was maintained during the quarantine. 70% of them are already thinking of allowing their employees to work remotely once the pandemic dies down.
On the other hand, remote culture has its drawbacks, too, especially for some departments that have always been very hands-on. Seasoned HR staff are more than acquainted with the challenges in the leave management process while working onsite, but these can be made much more difficult with a work-from-home setup.
When employees are scattered here and there five days a week, you don’t exactly have just one place to check who is present and who’s absent. Logging attendance isn’t the only challenge for the HR staff, though. Fostering a positive atmosphere even while working remotely is a must to stay productive and reduce absenteeism.
With this much pressure on HR managers, here are some tips to help you conquer these challenges.
1. Communicate Clear Expectations
HR managers take on the responsibility of clearly communicating to their employees and coworkers new remote work norms and standards that are to be followed. Draw up a telework policy or guideline with your expectations, conditions, and objectives. This document should cover issues such as cybersecurity, occupational safety, conditions of employment, and communication among others.
Make sure that you’ve described the company’s absence requesting and scheduling procedures in this policy so that employees can come back to it when they need it. This document should answer the following questions:
- What are the exact hours your employees are required to perform in a day or a week?
- Are there specific times of the workday that employees should be working at?
- What is the usual timeline of absence request approval?
- Are there any tools available to your employees that they can use to notify managers should they have any changes in their personal schedules?
It’s also important to outline the absences your company offers. Do you have period leaves? Can employees file for a jury duty leave? Communicate these telework policies well and, if necessary, reiterate them through personal and group discussions.
2. Use Technology To Your Advantage
A remote work culture provides a considerable degree of flexibility for both employer and employee, however, without a smart system, the remote working process can go awry at any time. Try implementing a time tracking solution so you can see how much an employee works in a day. This will keep you and your team in the know of ongoing task progress.
You can also adopt a streamlined team scheduling and absence management system which you can integrate into payroll. With this, you can plan staff members’ timetables and check your current resource availability.
3. Encourage Planned Time Off
Productivity and even the company’s financials take a huge hit when employees’ absenteeism is left unplanned. Encourage your employees to have planned vacations so that they can properly rest and recharge.
For tracking planned absences, it’s best to utilize a scheduling and absence management tool that allows for easy and error-free planning of personal leave time. Systems like these help you, your employees, and your coworkers determine how much PTO they have at their disposal at any period of time.
Though planned time offs are great, there will still be times when unplanned absences are difficult to avoid. Serious personal reasons can come about unexpectedly. If you’ve implemented FMLA for the health and wellbeing of your employees, you can keep track of this and other types of unplanned absences through a cloud-based system.
There are high-quality absence management software that have the ability to notify other team members about any changes in personal schedules. This makes team communication more efficient and reduces time wasted for everybody.
4. Be Flexible, Be Available
Remote working can give employees a feeling of loneliness and isolation sometimes. Make sure your employees and coworkers feel supported and heard by being available to them should they need your assistance. Let them know where they can reach you throughout the day and, if possible, give them options on where they can contact you—whether that’s your email or phone number.
Keep in mind that it’s easy to get discouraged when you can’t get help immediately. Being present and flexible for your employees and coworkers motivates them to show up and produce high-quality work.
Arrange video calls and meetings regularly to foster a sense of connection with your team. Teamwork and a commitment to the company won’t show when employees are left feeling isolated and lonely. This can even result in unplanned days off or worse, resignations. Gather your employees at least once a month just for everyone to share fun and friendly conversations. This helps in boosting their morale, making them feel that they’re an important part of the team.
5. Analyze Employee Absence Data
Identify absence patterns with your absence data. This will show the company’s management approach is working. It will also help you in identifying any problems with a certain employee’s conduct. With this available to you, you can enhance your team management strategies or adopt a completely different approach. Another advantage of analyzing employee absence data is that you can present this to your team and ask them how they feel at work.
Fostering a great remote culture with your employees and coworkers starts with clear guidelines, and it progresses on and on with constant communication. When it comes to managing the absences of your remote employees, be there for them if they have anything they need to ask or clarify.
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