“Absenteeism rate is one of our criteria for incentive payments”

Cédric Blache is Human Resources Director of Toyota Material Handling France.


Why is your company concerned about absenteeism at work?
Historically, we had a low absenteeism rate, around 2.5%. In comparison, our sector of activity, forklift trucks and material handling equipment, is just under 4%. In 2017, our rate rose to 3.17% and then to 3.9% in 2018. Our primary asset is our employees. We could not afford to let this situation get worse.


What are the causes of this deterioration?
It is always difficult to determine the reasons for absenteeism. This phenomenon is generally the result of a combination of several factors, which are not always easy to identify. What is certain is that, like most companies, we are obliged to be agile, to regularly adjust our organisation to cope with competitive pressure, but also with technological change. This can confuse and destabilise employees. In addition, we note that the new generations are often less devoted to the company, even if we must avoid making sweeping generalisations.


What solutions have you implemented?
An external service provider helped us to define our absenteeism indicator. We have decided to take into account all absences, with the exception of accidents at work. The result was that these absences represented the equivalent of 26 permanent positions out of a total of 900 employees. Employees must be aware that their absence leads to additional work for their colleagues. However, we must not point the finger at those who are absent, but, on the contrary, value presenteeism. Moreover, since 2018, the absenteeism rate has been one of our criteria for the payment of profit-sharing. We focus on communication. The objective is for the employee to know where the company is going and what its role is in the organisation. This involves a meeting led twice a year by the chairman, who presents the company’s results, strategy and successes; about ten news bulletins sent to our managers, who are responsible for relaying them to their team; or even a quarter of an hour once a week devoted to safety, co-facilitated by a workshop manager and an HR manager.


What about well-being at work?
The second part of our action plan, implemented with our broker Verlingue, focuses on well-being at work. Verlingue helped us to identify and select the partners and the different solutions we roll out within the company. Our employees are entitled to two consultations per year for osteopathy or sophrology, which are fully reimbursed. In the spring, employees will be able to make an appointment at headquarters with a nurse to review their diet, sleep and physical activity. In 2020, we will focus on prevention in partnership with an anti-tobacco centre.


What is your position on telecommuting?
We have implemented the “home office” for executives once a week. We believe that teleworking can reduce absenteeism by reducing travel time and thus fatigue. In addition, employees generally use this day to settle their administrative and medical obligations. However, this cannot be the solution to everything, knowing that it is impossible for us to introduce teleworking for our production staff.