The Client

Biffa is the leading brand in the waste and recycling industry, providing collection,treatment, recycling and energy generation services to local and national customers in the industrial, commercial and municipal sectors. With an employee base of 6,000 employees, the organisation essentially provides waste management solutions to businesses.Operating from over 100 sites in the UK, Biffa employs a wide spectrum of job roles including drivers, scientists, pickers and engineers as well as customer contact centres and the full range of head office functions. As well as driving an employee engagement strategy, the Biffa HR organisation was challenged to maximise cost savings and efficiencies within the business.

The Challenge

Biffa were seeking opportunities to drive people related cost savings and opted to trial the Day 1 Absence Management Service in its three UK based customer contact centres. The contact centres dealt with both inbound and outbound calls, were geographically spread throughout the UK and had predominantly a young workforce. 

Only three months prior, sickness absence in the contact centres had been relatively high (7-8%) and had reduced following the introduction of a draconian measure that all absentees call the head of the call centre personally to register absence due to sickness. This had the short term desired effect of reducing sickness absence from 7-8% to 4-5%. However the strategy was unsustainable and the challenge for the Day 1 Absence Management service was to maintain and then further reduce sickness absence.

The Solution

The Day 1 Absence Management service provides the opportunity to track, manage and reduce sickness absence.

How does it work? Absentees dial a 24/7 central absence line, NEBOSH qualified call handlers then question the employee to find out about the nature of the absence, expected date of return and ask a set of questions defined by the organisation. Email alerts are forwarded in real time to line managers and any other party who needs to know about the absence. Line Managers access a web based portal to view the current and up to five year absence history for all team members.

Email alerts are sent to remind managers to carry out return to work interviews, complete attendance improvement plans or affect any part of the disciplinary process. All management information is provided in real time and in a customised widget based dashboard. An organisation can be up and running and reducing sickness absence within 6-8 weeks and a dedicated implementation account manager will provide full support.

The results

Biffa ran the Day 1 Absence Management service from July - December 2013. Sickness absence reduced from 4.77% to 2.10% representing a total reduction of 39% over the six month period. The return was four times the investment over the period, representing a significant gain. Biffa extended the service to include absences arising from dentist, doctors and hospital appointments, as well as all other absencesexcluding approved holiday.

Over the same period doctors/dentist appointments reduced by nearly 50% and other absences, such as dependency or emergency leave, decreased by 28%. The management information available provided additional benefits; line management competence in handling sickness absence was assessed and developed, adherence to company procedures improved and health and wellbeing campaigns were targeted at the root causes of short term sickness absence.

Biffa are now looking to extend the Day 1 Absence Management service to their operational areas.

For further information contact Santia on on 029 2085 2852 or by email.


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