James McQuivey, VP, Research Director and J. P. Gownder, Principal Analyst

Show Notes:

The rate of employee absenteeism due to COVID-19 has climbed significantly in the past year, compounding the long list of challenges that businesses are facing. In this episode, VPs James McQuivey and J. P. Gownder discuss the issue and how it can be used to improve your workforce planning in the future.

Gownder starts by putting the issue of COVID-related absenteeism into perspective. According to US Census data in July of this year, almost 4% of US workers were out due to COVID-related illness issues (either ill themselves, quarantining, or caring for someone who was ill) — that’s up from 1.8% a year prior. But to get a real handle on the impact, organizations must also factor in the costs of reduced supervisor and colleague productivity that occurs when a worker is out.

The solution to the issue? Step one is adding capacity and adaptivity to your workforce so you can handle upticks in absenteeism. Gownder describes a model he developed that allows organizations to quantify the costs of absenteeism and compare them with costs of mitigation efforts, thus ensuring that you’re making the right staffing decisions. McQuivey describes some creative ways technology can be used to help plan for a variety of workforce-related risks.

Later in the episode, the analysts discuss how the lessons learned from managing a workforce during a pandemic can be applied to various other systemic risk events. That could be anything from a very localized event at a single location or the impacts of global conflicts such as the war in Ukraine.

The key takeaway? “Your workforce planning needs to have these kinds of risk estimates built into it,” so you can shift from a reactive to a proactive approach, says McQuivey.

If you want to learn more about managing systemic risk in your organization, check out the agenda for Forrester’s upcoming Security & Risk North America event, November 8–9 in Washington, D.C.