Every employer knows the confusion that can come with unexpected absences.
When the absence reporting process isn’t streamlined, this confusion can go from a mild inconvenience to a potential threat to your business operations.
That is where employee call-off hotlines come in.
What is an Employee Call-Off Hotline?
An employee call-off hotline is a dedicated phone number that employees call to report they will be absent or tardy from work. The number may be an internal line or one managed by a third-party call center.
These services provide a single phone number that employees can call 24 hours a day to call in sick or notify their employer that they won’t be working their shift as scheduled.
Call-in lines are generally managed by a third-party call center or answering service. They may be staffed by live operators or automated via an IVR system.
Employee call-off systems are referred to by many different names, including:
- Call-off service
- Call-out system
- Employee call-in line
- Absence reporting line
- Call-in number
- Call-out hotline
- Employee hotline
- Attendance hotline
This service will provide your organization with one unique phone number that any employee can call at any time to report an absence. The system will obtain all of the relevant information pertaining to the absence and then automatically notify everyone who needs to know.
By providing one, consistent reporting process across the company, a hotline service allows for thorough documentation to be compiled with every absence or tardiness. It allows for immediate notification of the proper personnel to make payroll amendments or quickly find a replacement.
The Cost of Absenteeism and Poor Absence Reporting
Accidents, illnesses, and other emergencies can happen at any time. Although employees are responsible for giving ample notice to their employer, it’s often impossible for them to individually notify all of the people that will be impacted by their absence. That list could include a shift supervisor, manager, scheduler, HR department, and coworkers. Still, all of those individuals could be affected by a change in personnel for the day.
Workplace absenteeism in the US is currently around 2.8% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This means that, on average, 2.8% of the workforce is absent from work on any given day. The cost of this lost productivity totals more than $84 billion a year, with unscheduled absenteeism costing roughly $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,650 each year for salaried employees.
The bigger the company, the higher the chance of absence miscommunication, and the larger effect on productivity.
Further, poor documentation, coupled with a wrongful termination lawsuit or dispute, could spell disaster for a corporation’s legal team. Employee lawsuit settlements alone have cost companies an average of $40,000 over the last ten years, and even more in cases that went to court.
If you want to curb this potential loss before it can happen, increase your company’s productivity, and reduce HR costs in the process, an employee call-off hotline can help.
Who Benefits from an Employee Call-In Number?
The benefits of using an employee call-in number are evident at every level of the organization. From employees to HR to management, a streamlined system makes everyone’s lives easier.
All employees will appreciate having an easy and consistent method to use for reporting scheduling conflicts. Further, they can access a personalized dashboard explaining their absence history, available sick leave, and other administrative information all in one place.
A third-party call-in system also means that other employees do not need to spend time passing absence information around in a relay to make sure that it gets to its proper destination.
When absences require shift changes to fill productivity gaps, scheduling can be notified to solve the problem right away. This reduces the risk of downtime or work stoppage.
HR will appreciate having a reliable way to find out who was absent and when allowing for proper payroll accommodations — especially when shift changes lead to additional hours on the part of employees called to fill in.
The right system can also save time by automatically administering your employee attendance point system. That means no more manual data entry or exorbitant amounts of time spent in spreadsheets.
Management will not have to worry about the process of accommodating every individual absence, but instead will be able to view and track absence data to make actionable changes that benefit the productivity of the entire company.
The data compiled by absence hotline services will allow you to make up the difference and stay unaffected by the 9% national absenteeism metric.
Why Should Employers Use an Employee Call-Off Service?
Employee call-off hotlines can benefit every level of your organization, but what exactly are these benefits? A few have already been discussed, but let’s look more closely at the direct impact that employee attendance hotline services can have on your business.
Some of the many improvements you are likely to notice after switching to an employee call-off hotline include the following:
- More consistent and dependable record keeping
- Fewer catastrophic work interruptions
- An overall increase in workplace productivity
- A built-in deterrent for time-off abuse
- A reduction in employee-related lawsuits
Here’s how an employee absence reporting line can enhance the operations of your corporation, including some of the reasons why, in over 25 years of business, we have never had a service cancelation.
Dependable Record Keeping
The first and most important facet of an effective HR organization is consistent record-keeping without information gaps. This can be the difference between a passed or failed audit, a lawsuit won or lost, and a business that can continue innovating or that ultimately buckles under pressure.
The key to successful record-keeping practices, though, is automation and standardization. You don’t want your valuable managers spending too much time organizing attendance spreadsheets when they could instead be training and recruiting successful new employees, designing operational improvements, or mentoring future leaders. You also don’t want different plants or departments following their own procedures.
A single absence can already be a huge tax on a given shift, but the added need to accommodate for payroll changes, find a replacement employee to take over the shift, and document the reasons for the absence are an additional strain on your precious resources.
By employing an automated absence reporting line and attendance tracking system, you can get all of the documentation you need and more than your in-house system can currently support.
Local agents accept calls on your behalf 24/7 and collect all of the required Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) information. If you would like additional data collected, the system is also fully customizable to your liking. For example, your call-off service could be paired with a COVID-19 screening hotline.
Further, all of the data is automatically compiled into a personalized employer dashboard. Upper-level management can view all company-wide data. Human Resources can access accurate attendance records, and scheduling, management, or anyone else who needs to make operational decisions based on absentee information can easily be notified in seconds.
The cost of absenteeism is steep, and it goes beyond the impact on production.
Manually tracking employee attendance is time-consuming and requires extensive resources. There’s the time spent on data entry, fielding call-offs, notifying the appropriate parties, keeping employee records up to date, filling shifts, preparing reports, and responding to inquiries or disputes. It’s a full-time job.
Employee call-off lines help your organization save money by streamlining and standardizing absenteeism reporting. A third-party hotline vendor like CMS is responsible for everything and operates 24 hours a day. Every call-off is documented, notifications are automated, records are updated, data is synced between applications, and the applicable processes and workflows, like shift backfilling, are triggered automatically.
Prevents Work Interruptions
We don’t have to be the ones to tell you that an absence or even tardiness can be a catastrophic interruption to the carefully planned workday.
When an employee needs someone else to fill in for them, but the notification comes too late or doesn’t reach the right person, it can become too difficult to find a last-minute replacement. This increases the burden on those employees who did come to work when they were scheduled for the shift and ends with less work done and overall lower morale.
Further, if someone cannot make it to work, their daily responsibilities cannot always be passed off to someone else or distributed amongst other employees. Your entire production line may be impacted.
This resulting confusion leads to interruptions in the workday of many employees when one has a last-minute emergency.
By utilizing a reliable call-out service, you can automate many of the re-scheduling responsibilities stemming from an absence, and receive detailed absence data more quickly, in order to respond to developing situations as quickly as possible.
Scheduling offices can be notified right away, shift managers will be looped in, and HR can receive a detailed list of who took what shift — including when absences were covered. So, everyone has access to the information they need when they need it and can readily accommodate potential workplace disruptions with less time spent on the task.
Further, if all employees can access their own personalized dashboard of absence data and information, HR is relieved from having to answer procedural or administrative questions.
Working hand-in-hand with the prevention of workplace interruptions is an overall increase in productivity. At length, we have already discussed how absences can create a significant decrease in overall organizational productivity.
An employee call-off hotline can make up that difference.
Productivity is not just about people showing up when they need to — although that is a significant part of it. It is also about how absences are managed and treated.
Effective absence management will decrease workday interruptions for everyone involved, increasing their overall productivity. It will also decrease the strain on other employees who would normally be forced to pick up the slack when replacements cannot be found at the last minute.
Finally and most importantly is a facet that might sound counterintuitive. Proper absence management can increase productivity by increasing intentional employee time off.
When an employee feels under the weather but knows that calling in sick will disturb their colleagues’ workday and require extra work later to make up the difference, they may be disinclined to take a needed day off.
However, going to work sick places an incredible strain on our bodies and minds and can cause others to get sick and increase the overall decline in working ability.
When the absence process is simple and effective, employees can take time off that they need, without the added worry that they have irrecoverably disrupted everyone else’s workday as well.
When they call our answering service, they will receive a personal confirmation number, so they can be confident that their case has been handled accordingly. This allows employees to make the most of the time off that they need without worrying about the potential strain placed on their colleagues.
Our system allows for a healthier work culture in which all employees are encouraged to take care of their needs without sacrificing the quality of the work that needs to be done.
Deters Time-Off Abuse
Although streamlined absence reporting procedures will enable workers to take time off when they need it, a standard hotline will also help deter abuse of this privilege.
Employees can mindfully monitor their absence data, additional days off, and make sure that they are still meeting their requirements when emergencies do occur.
Further, employers can access comprehensive data that alert them to potential abuses before they can become a chronic problem.
Additionally, by having a consistent, standardized system for the entire company, employees know exactly what is expected of them when they do need to call out sick. This method also ensures that no employee is mistreated, as everyone will be kept to the same standard.
Reduces Lawsuits and Disputes
If legal questions do come up, as they sometimes do, the data gathered by the hotline enables you to take effective action that minimizes the risks of going to court.
All absence reporting phone calls can be monitored and recorded so that if there is ever a misunderstanding about how a given situation was handled, irrefutable evidence can be provided.
This consistency across the service protects both you and your employees, ensures that no one is treated unfairly, and saves you the tens of thousands of dollars that companies have been known to lose in employee-related lawsuits.
How Does an Employee Call-Off Line Work?
Not all employee attendance lines are created equal.
Continental Message Solution is a leader in absence tracking services and attendance automation solutions. Our employee call-out hotline boasts local, US-based agents that will expertly handle your calls. This diligence is paired with additional automated services to simplify straightforward interactions. You may choose between live operators, automated/IVR, or a combination of both solutions.
Our hotline is 100% customizable so that it works in all the ways you need it to, and none that you don’t. You can select the standard FMLA procedure (employee, department, shift, and location) or create an entirely unique script for absence reporting, one that your employees and managers can rely on.
Your employee point system and attendance policy can be automated through the system, ensuring that employee records are accurate and eliminating the need to have HR or managers manually update attendance records.
Further, immediate and actionable information goes where you need it to. Scheduling can be notified of the need for a shift change. Managers can receive comprehensive productivity data, and HR can access a list of all the absences for a given day, pertaining to the necessary payroll changes. Data can be integrated with your HRIS software or other applications.
CMS provides more than just a call center. We also give you access to the absentee data that lets you run your business conscientiously and respond to gaps the moment they are identified. Beyond offering a dedicated call-off number, we offer a complete employee attendance dashboard, complete with built-in reports, management functionality, and automated procedures. This allows you to increase workplace productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall profit margins, all with one systematic change.