Managing a large team requires due diligence. If you’re commencing a project, you want to make sure everyone is on the same page. As a project manager, you delegate tasks to different team members based on their skills and capabilities. You may use an HRMS to track things, but how do you ensure that the work gets done on time?

What if one of the team members remains absent for days? You may find your project hanging in the middle. Unplanned and frequent leaves hamper the workflow for sure. That’s why organizations should use the Bradford Factor to lower risks.

What is the Bradford Factor?

The Bradford Factor tracks employee absences over a specific period. It is a calculation HR uses to generate an absence score for individuals. The higher the Bradford Factor score of an employee, the riskier it is for an organization. One can measure the impact of unplanned leaves on the organization using this score.

How do you calculate it?

It’s easy to generate Bradford Factor scores. It takes the duration and frequency of an employee’s absence during a specific period. A simple formula can help you make a critical decision on absenteeism. The formula is:

S x S x D = Bradford Factor Score

Here, S denotes the number of spells (or occasions) an employee has taken unauthorized leaves over a period, say a year.

D denotes the total number of days an employee has been absent within that period.

For example, a marketing team member has taken three days off due to personal commitments. Later that year, the same team member availed leave for six more days due to health issues. Here, the formula will be:

2 x 2 x 9 = 36 (There are two spells in a year and a total of 9 days off.) How does it help the HR team?

Employees are an asset to an organization. It relies on people to keep its business operations running. While there are policies and procedures to take planned leaves, including emergency leaves, one may think otherwise and start to misuse the liberty given by the organization.

We are talking about short-term absences over a regular period. It can break the flow, and things may come to a halt. Not to mention your colleagues may have to fill in your place with the added workload. It is where things start to get hampered.

While an HR practitioner can generate attendance reports through HR management software, this score can be used to determine the path ahead in case an organization needs to allocate additional resources or restructure teams.

Since the Bradford Factor tracks employees’ absences, HR can identify patterns, monitor frequent leaves, and assess risks to handle the situation better. The idea behind using the Bradford Factor score is to manage employee absence and find relevant solutions.

How to make an employee realize the potential risks?

When an HR manager determines the Bradford Factor score of an employee, it’s wise to conduct a one-on-one meeting. During this meeting, the employee will lay concerns regarding the period of absence. It could be workload, mother’s illness, home renovation, etc.

In this case, HR managers should take an empathetic approach and analyze what they can do to avert potential risks. It could be planning informed leaves, delegating tasks to a colleague, or allow flexible working hours for a limited period.

While discussing the Bradford Factor score with an employee, HR must know about the challenges a team or organization can face due to unplanned absenteeism. Not only does it hamper the workflow, but it also creates job dissatisfaction in colleagues who have to take the download in an employee’s absence.

HRs should conduct a formal session on the Bradford Factor score and why it is better to plan your leaves in advance. This way, you minimize downtime and increase productivity.

Why should HR managers use the Bradford Factor score?

As the human resources department relies on HR and payroll management software for attendance management and salary calculations, they can use the Bradford Factor score to determine the need for a channelized leave process. It can help them make changes to the existing process and make it more employee-friendly.

Below are the benefits of using this score.

You can avert risks: One of the prime benefits of using this score is to assess risks and manage them. If you think an employee has been absent for long, you can allocate another resource to the project so you can complete the project on time. It also helps to reduce the burden on a colleague who has to take up the tasks in an employee’s absence. The idea is to determine the red flags and trigger points and work on them to find viable and quick solutions.

It’s efficient: Since the Bradford Factor score is easy to calculate, it’s efficient in monitoring absentee issues and how you can make progress. Also, it saves time as you can focus on other important tasks and avoid the score calculation hustle.

Reduced absenteeism: When employees know about the consequences of unplanned leaves, they can work on taking planned leaves only. This way, you can reduce absenteeism at the workplace and boost productivity.

Challenges with the Bradford Factor score

While it’s a strategic tool for an HR practitioner, the Bradford Factor score has its challenges and limitations. If you solely rely on it to determine an employee’s tenure at the workplace, you may need to think again.

The score calculation can be fair but assessing the underlying issue is a different task altogether. An employee may have genuine concerns about being absent. It could be a chronic condition or taking care of an elder parent. It is the same as monitoring attendance records through HR software but not knowing the reasons behind the fluctuating track record of an employee.

It can put off a star performer who has contributed and achieved a great deal in the past. He/she may start to feel dissatisfied and judged for stating genuine reasons for being away from work. It can increase stress and hamper productivity.

What’s the best way forward?

Depending on the Bradford Factor to monitor employees’ absence period is a one-way road. How can you conclude without knowing all about the case? In the end, it’s a formula to help HR managers define a formalized process to fight absenteeism at the workplace.

It’s wise to create an absence management strategy rather than putting your employees down now and them. As said earlier, employees are an asset to an organization and should be treated that way.

You can take strict or disciplinary actions whenever needed. Meanwhile, it’s better to redefine the absence policy and make it employee-centric. This way, you win the trust of your workforce, resulting in a happier and healthier work environment.


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