Bradford Factor

Absence Management Strategy and the Bradford Factor

This article provides an introduction to the Bradford factor, explores the relative merits of the Bradford factor as an absence management tool and provides guidance on the development of an absence management strategy and the considerations therein.

What is the Bradford Factor?

In a nutshell, the Bradford factor is a tool that defines a relative scoring for employee absence.

The Bradford factor is a simple mathematical approach to providing a benchmark for employee absence over a defined period, typically a year. A zero Bradford factor indicates complete attendance (or no unplanned absence), the higher the Bradford factor, the more absence and/or repetitions of absence. Tolerance levels are typically defined as part of an absence management system, as employees transit through these levels specific management triggers occur (from informal discussion through to dismissal).

You can calculate the bradford factor using our onlne bradford factor calculator.

Absence management strategy

If you have arrived at this article the chances are that you are either a student or a manager / director facing attendance issues. As a student your main concern is theory, as a manager / director you concern is operational effectiveness: how do you ensure the staff cover on your books is transformed effectively into the service / product output.

The CIPD argues that

"Effective absence management involves finding a balance between providing support to help employees with health problems stay in and return to work and taking consistent and firm action against employees who try to take advantage of organisations' occupational sick pay schemes"

and we wholeheartedly agree. The key to absence management and a solid, legal, fair but firm strategy is in achieving balance. You must have sufficient scope to ensure that you allow for those who may be late occasionally or absent due to good reason yet have the ability to deal effectively with those whom are simply abusing the system. A good balanced plan, well executed and commonly understood and embraced will provide a fairer and more effective workplace.

So, you need an absence management strategy, start with the basics:

Factors effecting Employee Absence

The key to a successful absence management strategy is understanding what is driving the absence. Typical factors include:

  1. Poor Training
  2. Bad Management
  3. Unethical management (bullying, harassment, racism etc)
  4. Poor conditions
  5. Poor rumination
  6. Sense of belonging / inclusion
  7. Lack of commitment
  8. Cultural behaviour

As an employer, all the aspects above bar commitment are in your direct control. You can encourage increased commitment but the reality is that some workers never commit effectively to their work. So, that is a good proportion of factors within your control. If you are seeing increasing absenteeism it is worth looking for trends, is one department worse than another? If the problem is across the board, could it be cultural or the condition of your facility. Be honest and subjective if you seriously want to effect a positive change. If the issue is cultural this can be challenging but not impossible, rewarding '0' absence is a good way to adopt a positive attendance culture.

Once up and running, you can calculate the bradford factor of your employees here.

Bradford Factor Resources

Additional Bradford Factor Resources

For further information on The Bradford Factor (Use, Implementation and Record Keeping), please review our Bradford Factor guides and management strategy information.