Absence Management

Bradford Factor Score Calculator

The Bradford Factor is an HR formula that quantifies the impact of an employee’s absence on an employer. It operates on the principle that frequent, short-term absences are generally more disruptive than infrequent, long-term absences.

The formula is intended to help businesses identify patterns of absence that may require attention, supporting the management of workforce reliability and productivity.

Assigning a numerical value to absence patterns can provide a straightforward way to monitor and address potential absenteeism issues.

Your Bradford Factor Score:

How to Calculate the Bradford Factor Score

At its core, the Bradford Factor formula is simple:

Bradford Factor Score (B) = S² x D

  • S: Total instances of absence within a set timeframe (usually a year).
  • D: Total number of days absent in the same period.
  • B: Bradford Factor Score.

For instance, an employee with two instances of sickness (totalling seven days) would have a score of:

Equation: 2×2×7=28

Bradford Factor score: 28

The Bradford Factor is often linked to the Bradford University School of Management in the 1980s. Its history is somewhat murky, with claims it originated from research at the university. However, this connection is debated and might be more rooted in HR folklore than solid evidence. 

Some stories attribute its creation to a pharmaceutical firm whose managers attended a seminar at the university, but Bradford University itself has not confirmed these origins. Thus, while widely recognised and used, the true genesis of the Bradford Factor remains to be seen, blending academic association with industry legend.

Managing the Disciplinary Process

Applying the Calculation

Here are some examples to help illustrate how the Bradford Factor Score is calculated using the equation.

Example 1

An employee has two occasions of absence in 52 weeks for five days at a time.

Equation: (2×2) x 10 = 40

Bradford Factor score: 40

Example 2

An employee has 10 days of absence, once in 52 weeks.

Equation: (1×1) x 10 = 10

Bradford Factor score: 10

Example 3

An employee is absent 10 times in 52 weeks for one day at a time.

Equation: (10×10) x 10 = 1,000

Bradford Factor score: 1,000

The Challenge of Short, Frequent Absences

The Bradford Factor highlights short, frequent absences as these can often be the more disruptive types of absence. Firstly, these absences often occur unexpectedly, leaving little time for managers to arrange cover or redistribute workloads. This can lead to a significant impact on team productivity.

Additionally, frequent absences can disrupt the flow of projects and tasks, leading to delays and inefficiencies. This can also put pressure on other team members who may need to take on extra work at short notice.

Longer absences, while still impactful, can often be managed, allowing for better resource management and workload distribution.

What is a ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ Bradford Score?

What could be considered a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ score will vary depending on the organisation’s policy. However, a general guideline would be:

  • 0: The employee hasn’t missed any work days.
  • 1 to 50: The employee’s absences are at a level most workplaces would consider okay.
  • 51 to 124: The employee’s absences are starting to be noticeable. It might be a good idea to find out why they’re missing work more often.
  • 125 to 399: The employee is missing a lot of work. It’s important to take some action, maybe talking to them or looking into the reasons.
  • 400 and above: The employee’s absences are high. It’s necessary to address this urgently.

Important Note

The Bradford Factor formula helps you to see how often someone is absent, however, it’s not the only thing to consider. It’s important to understand why the individual is absent, how they a performing in their role, and if their are any underlying influences. The score is just on piece of the puzzle in understanding an employee’s attendance.

Effective Absence Management

While the Bradford Factor is a valuable tool in quantifying and understanding patterns in employee absences, it should be complemented with broader HR strategies that address the root causes of absenteeism and foster a supportive work environment. For example, Return-to-Work meetings are crucial in understanding why an employee is absent. They provide a platform for open dialogue, where managers can show support and empathy, allowing employees to share concerns or issues affecting their attendance.

Furthermore, Flexible Working Arrangements can significantly reduce absence rates. The flexibility acknowledged the diverse needs and commitments of employees, enabling them to balance their professional and personal responsibilities more effectively. This, too, provides a healthier and more productive workforce. Employees who have control over their work schedule are often more motivated, less stressed, and more engaged in their work.

It is essential to foster an environment where employees feel more comfortable discussing their challenges and needs. This openness can lead to a better understanding and management of absences. Implementing wellness initiatives, such as health and fitness programmes, mental health support, and stress management workshops, can proactively reduce the number of absences due to health-related issues.

Equipping managers with the skills to handle empathetically and effectively is crucial. Training should include how to conduct return-to-work interviews, courses like Managing Sickness Absence, as well as recognise stress or burnout and offer support and adjustments as needed.

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