Bradford Factor Calculator

The effects of absenteeism in the workplace are significant and far-reaching. Product quality and output can suffer, but – and perhaps more importantly – overall morale within the organisation is likely to take a significant dip, too.

Dealing with absenteeism is particularly tricky, because it requires open and honest conversations that may touch on highly sensitive topics. Why is someone regularly off sick? Is their absence justified by significant illness or is there something else gong on?

Asking these questions is difficult for any manager, which is why the ability to call on the Bradford Factor in order to gain real, analytical data about absenteeism is an increasingly useful tool for HR departments.

Download Bradford Factor infographic

What is the Bradford Factor?

Believed to be named after work that was once undertaken by the Bradford University School of Management, the Bradford Factor score is a method used by HR teams to generate a no-nonsense, reliable numerical value for patterns of absence.

The number generated is used to score each employee’s absence per year. The lower the score, the less of an impact the employee’s absenteeism is likely to have had on the company’s productivity. Conversely, a high score indicates potential significant disruption to the organisation.

This unit of measurement is often the starting point for disciplinary proceedings relating to excess absenteeism and it’s simplicity is designed to discourage long periods of faux illness. It also sets a benchmark to which all staff can aspire.

The Bradford Factor combines the frequency of absence with the duration and is most commonly used to highlight the potential impact of shorter, more frequent absences. This stands to reason, because those that are longer are generally predictable and, therefore, possible to plan contingencies for.

Is it fair?

The method for the above calculation and the single number it generates to score each employee’s absenteeism is designed to provide a consistent approach to this vital element of HR. But is it fair?

It isn’t for everyone, but before you can decide whether or not it’s a legitimate, fair and objective way of scoring employees based on absenteeism, here’s the main advantage and disadvantage of using a Bradford Factor calculator:

  • Advantage: it’s mathematical. You can’t really disagree with science, and if the same formula is applied to everything within a particular discipline, no one is any worse or better off. Similarly, managers can’t be accused of favouritism or taking disciplinary action for no reason if they rely on one method of scoring.
  • Disadvantage: it’s rather clinical. Although the method for calculating the score is the same for everyone, no two people are the same. Absenteeism is caused by all manner of circumstances, and a high score could be the result of genuine poor health just as much as it may indicate someone who is taking liberties.

The answer is to only use a Bradford Factor calculator to establish a benchmark, and simply make it the start of an open, honest conversation. Once employees know that their absenteeism is of concern, the real reason behind it can be fully explored and dealt with.

The Bradford Factor is loved by some people, but hated by others. It’s also often misunderstood, which is why the infographic below is a very useful tool for HR professionals looking to educate staff on the reasons for calling upon a Bradford Score calculator:

Download Bradford Factor infographic