Companies looking to streamline their employee call-in procedures often start by addressing the most pressing problem: setting up a single point of contact for employees to use when they call in sick to work.

The easiest way to achieve this without much fuss is to establish a new voicemail box dedicated to employee call-ins. 

However, while establishing a voicemail system is often the easiest and most obvious way to get started, it has several drawbacks and can create more problems than it solves.

This brief post will outline what voicemail attendance lines do and where they fall short. We’ll also recommend a better approach for handling employee call-offs.   

How Does an Attendance Voicemail System Work? 

Using voicemail as your attendance hotline means you require each caller to leave a digitally recorded message instead of speaking with a live person or following an automated system.  

Voice mailboxes are often easy to set up because companies already have an existing phone system with that feature enabled. So all you have to do is contact your IT department or telecommunications company and have them establish a new phone extension or phone number that points to a voicemail box. 

Once set up, employees call and leave a voicemail whenever they need to call in sick or arrive late. Each caller leaves their information on the same dedicated voicemail box, and then that box is checked periodically by HR, management, or another designated party. 

What are the Problems with Accepting Call-outs via Voicemail? 

The idea of a centralized voicemail box where all of your employees call off sounds good in theory, but in practice, it falls short of being an effective long-term solution.  

Here’s why: 

  1. Voicemail messages aren’t standardized. You need to collect the same set of information from each caller, but there is no way to collect that information in a structured manner using voicemail. You could use a voicemail greeting to identify the information you are looking for, but it is still up to the caller to remember and provide the information. The result is that you’ll have to spend considerable time following up with employees and collecting data that wasn’t in the voicemail. 
  2. Voicemails are time-consuming because every voicemail will need to be listened to and transcribed. Even if you’re using a text-to-speech system to transcribe your messages, the technology is imperfect. It will still result in an excessive amount of time spent listening to and correcting your attendance records. The voicemails themselves are insufficient from a recordkeeping perspective. 
  3. You can’t search, filter, or report on voicemail messages. The voicemail box used to capture employee call-offs will store messages in sequential order, but other than that, there is no way to query your voicemail to find calls from specific employees quickly. All you have are messages time stamped in chronological order. You will spend countless hours navigating voicemail messages trying to find the information you need. 
  4. Voicemail only captures recorded information; it doesn’t fulfill any follow-up tasks, such as triggering notifications. So, for example, when an employee calls off work via voicemail, that’s just the start of the process. You still need to ensure that the appropriate parties receive the information promptly. But the nature of voicemail is that they stack up until someone checks them, so unless you have someone responsible for checking voicemail messages the instant they come in, attendance notifications will get delayed beyond the point of being useful. 

So, Should You Allow Employees to Leave a Voicemail When They Call-in? 

In conclusion, our answer would be no. Not if you can avoid it.

Allowing employees to call off work via voicemail isn’t an efficient way to capture and manage call-outs and should be avoided. The goal of streamlining your call-in procedures is to save time and improve your operation. You want to make sure you’re capturing and documenting attendance occurrences while also responding quickly to avoid any negative impact on your operations. Voicemail is ineffective for these purposes because it requires a lot of person-hours to manage without providing a standardized tool that improves your absence management processes. 

Better than Voicemail: Employee Call-off System

Thankfully, there’s a better way to handle your employee call-offs. An employee call-off hotline from CMS provides a dedicated number for your employees to use when they’re calling in sick. But unlike voicemail, we built our proprietary system solely to streamline attendance call-ins, saving you time and money. 

Here are just a few of the benefits: 

  • A call-off hotline can be scripted and capture complete information from your employees. That means we can capture every piece of information you need on every call. Compare this to a voicemail where you may or may not receive everything you need and won’t know until you listen to it. 
  • Data is automatically entered into our call-off dashboard and immediately accessible for all of your reporting needs. You will never have to spend time listening to calls and transcribing information again. All of the data is at your fingertips. 
  • Because all of the data is at your fingertips, querying data and finding information is a breeze. For example, you can quickly see calls by department, employee, location, call type, call-in reason, and more. 
  • Employee attendance notifications get sent automatically. As soon as an employee calls in sick, the system can immediately notify their supervisor and HR. The system can even begin contacting potential replacements to find coverage for their shift. 

How to Set Up a Call-Off Hotline for Your Employees

Have we convinced you there is a better way? If you are interested in moving away from a voicemail call-in system or improving your operation with a comprehensive call-off system for your employees, CMS can help! We are a leading provider of hotline solutions for companies nationwide and offer a complete suite of attendance solutions, from 24/7 hotlines to online reporting and automation. Contact us today to learn more!