Strategic downtime and absence management

Compensation of unforeseeable staff shortages

Whether it is patient care in healthcare, operating machines in the manufacturing area or customer service in stationary retailing: Without continuous workforce management, it would be impossible to operate successfully in many industries. To ensure that productivity is maintained over the long term, systematic downtime management helps to react adequately and cost-efficiently to short-term staff shortages or additional requirements.

Downtime management: individually more successful

The incorrect calculation of "personnel buffers" and a low level of cross-divisional flexibility rank among the most frequent sources of errors in managing downtime and absences. In addition, there is usually a lack of transparency regarding required and existing qualifications in order to find suitable substitutes. A sound problem analysis helps to uncover such weaknesses.

There is no generally valid formula to compensate for downtime that could be universally applied to companies. All approaches and instruments have their advantages and disadvantages. A well-founded process analysis, tailored to your demands and requirements, helps to find an intelligent combination of measures that optimally meet your requirements. Downtime management always demands a customized concept.

Optimization measures: compensating for staff shortfalls

Even with good and demand-attuned deployment planning, the need for compensation arises when employees are unexpectedly absent, usually due to short-term illnesses. In order to counteract staff shortfalls, it is therefore advisable to first reduce the sickness rate in the company. In many instances, illness-related absences due to stress, lack of sleep or overwork can often be prevented by reducing overtime, minimizing night shifts or compensating excessive physical work with sufficient rest periods. Measures such as improving working conditions and optimizing the personnel requirements forecast, also by taking the sickness rate into account, are capable of minimizing unexpected absences from work from the outset.

In the event of the actual absence of a member of staff, replacement capacities should be available to cover demand and should be integrated into the duty roster accordingly, which presents the question as to how can these capacities be obtained? On the one hand, tasks should be standardized as far as possible so as to ensure flexible employee deployment. In this way, it may even be possible to compensate for absences without substitution. On the other hand, employees should be qualified for a large number of different tasks scopes and jobs. This allows the formation of cross-divisional reserve or standby pools and "joker" services. Additional stand-by services support the deployment of employees at different times.

A combination of these measures has proved particularly effective in actual practice. The flexibility in terms of employee task scopes, working hours and deployment can be very significantly increased and attuned to requirements, as more flexible personnel deployment enables the synchronization of staff availability and personnel requirements. In this way, additional costs for personnel buffers can be avoided and the administrative input reduced.


Successful downtime management in three steps

  1. Analysis of the reasons and frequency of staff shortfalls: The various types of absences must be accounted for and their frequencies determined.
  2. Based on the results, preventive measures are derived to minimize the various downtimes and absences and reduce their frequency.
  3. Concrete measures for downtime and absence management are defined and implemented in accordance with the business model and corporate culture.

Individually optimizing downtime and absence management

You can rely on the more than 30 years of extensive experience and in-depth know-how at ATOSS Consulting. Our consultants will be pleased to support you with best-practice approaches in the planning, introduction and optimization of your downtime and absence management – tailored precisely to your demands and requirements.


Michael Knoblauch


Are you looking for expert consultation? I would be pleased to help.

Michael Knoblauch
Director ATOSS Consulting

T +49 89 42771345