Data Illumination Through Absence Analytics

Do you have a high performing call center? Is it based on a certain location or job type? It wouldn’t be surprising to determine that high performers all worked for the same call center coach; one that is motivating, thoughtful, creative, etc. It might be more surprising to discover that high performers were all participants in the wellness benefits program; knowledge resulting from data analysis; not personal conversation. Regardless, some characteristics of that employee population differentiate high performers from the rest. Identifying those characteristics is the challenge, and it’s oftentimes the hidden gem that’s too hard to reach with your current tools and processes.

With disparate data in multiple systems, such as HRIS systems, time and attendance and payroll, it’s not surprising that these hidden gems of information remain buried. All too frequently this data remains separate, leaving you with an incomplete view. Getting a complete view is only possible when the data from the various systems are joined together to develop an understanding of the big picture. This complete data view illuminates the data and allows those hidden gems to be discovered.

It’s possible that leave of absence data hasn’t been included in your data integration efforts thus far, which, if that’s the case, integrating this data may be the golden shovel which will lead to discovering those gems. If you go the outsourcing route, it’s not uncommon to rely on reporting from FMLA or disability vendors. This is an acceptable approach, however, the downside is it's a siloed approach because it’s not combined with other types of benefit data, such as workers’ compensation, healthcare, pharmacy, dental, etc. Healthcare is often identified on the surface as a primary driver of benefits exposure. But, an integrated view of the data helps uncover data drivers associated with absence.

As the chart below indicates, 8% of the employee population is associated with just over half (53%) of the cost per employee for the benefits mentioned.


What’s missed without data integration is how absent employees are driving the generation of these high costs. This is a fact only seen from joining the data together in a tool, which creates the whole picture through integrating data from disparate systems. The direct cost of absence, illustrated by the disability (STD and LTD) and workers’ compensation indemnity (WCI) are all costs that would not have otherwise been visible. It’s also revealing that it’s these absent employees who also have the highest healthcare costs. Without this illumination, you might have pursued a different path or benefit plan design.

The link between healthcare cost and absence was the hidden gem! As a general principal, this link can be generalized to all organizations. But, the specifics of your disability absence cost can’t be known or discovered without data integration. Your situation will likely have some different characteristics. Let’s take a look at a few conclusions described in one company’s disability experience, which are fairly typical.

  • As tenure increases, salary increases
  • As average salary increases, STD durations get shorter
  • Musculoskeletal is the most common disability diagnosis category

Interestingly enough, here are some conclusions that you might not expect:

  • As average employee age increases, STD durations get shorter
  • Percent of women employed and length of tenure are unrelated
  • Increases in average age is not related to an increase in occupational disability claims

The data tells a story, but the story may not always be what you’d expect.

Which describe your organization? Do you know? Would you like to know? Having this type of information at your fingertips will empower you to make better benefit design decisions. These decisions which will help you improve the bottom line for your company, as well as strengthen your position with C-Suite executives, who will be pleased with the powerful information you hold in your fingertips from the hidden gems uncovered with your data integration tools.

Learn more during our webinar with the Spring Consulting Group, “Using Absence Analytics to Elevate HR to the C-Suite" on February 11. Register here.