News update – Royal Mail’s academy to help with attendance

In a bid to continue its tough stance on absenteeism Royal Mail is setting up an ‘attendance academy’, that will assess data, drive best practice and introduce new employee incentives.

The academy will be put in place during the next six weeks and will meet every quarter to produce guidance and ideas for senior managers to implement. The move follows the unveiling of proposals by Royal Mail chairman Allan Leighton for the organisation’s 180,000 employees to be given a 20% stake in the business. Shares would be distributed to employees equally under the proposed share ownership scheme and would be traded via a trust.

The future of Royal Mail is currently under debate and it will be the subject of a government report being drawn up by Sir George Bain. So far the organisation has done much to reduce absenteeism but it still has a long way to go, admits Jon Allen, head of employee relations, and architect of the attendance academy idea.

Over the past year Royal Mail has managed to encourage 2,000 employees to return to work, reducing the average number of days off sick per person from 15 to 11. An external "high profile" professional will chair the academy, but no appointment has yet been made. It will comprise 15 members, ranging from human resources experts to occupational health advisers. Royal Mail line managers will also be invited to attend and will earn their places through proving their ability to manage absenteeism.

They will take it in turns to take part in the academy meetings, which are likely to take place at different venues around the country. The reduction in absenteeism has so far been achieved through various schemes, including car prize draws for employees who have not taken sick days, and also absence management training for line managers.