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Absence management - a holistic approach

The Soma Initiative believes that in order to optimise productivity and profitability, and to ensure the wellbeing of staff, it is necessary to understand employee wellness, the causes and consequences of absence from work, incapacity, and disability, as well as to simultaneously and holistically manage these concepts in accordance with the relevant labour legislation.

Soma iKon™ – an absence initiative

Soma has launched a sophisticated, but highly cost-effective, Absentee Management tool known as Soma iKon™. This web-based software application functions parallel to any time and attendance and/or Human Resource management programme and is customized to allow for client-specific data mining and information reporting. Importantly, it is the generation of crucial management information out of raw data by Soma iKon™ which facilitates the effective and efficient, in-house or outsourced, management of inappropriate employee absence.

In addition to the standard Absentee Management programme functionality specifications, Soma iKon™ offers:

  • Automated real-time notification of (imminent) company policy and/or labour legislation contravention by specific employees
  • Automated, real-time reports identifying incidents of culpable and innocent absence
  • Medical Certificate management: validation, verification and capture of Medical Certificates received by Soma from client. Medical practitioner liaison for confirmation of accuracy and appropriateness of medical certificate detail, when deemed necessary
  • Contravention-specific intervention management instruction
  • Standardized requisite record letters and forms allied to intervention management (return-to-work, leave application, counseling, formal and informal warnings)
  • Ad hoc off-site telephonic “hotline” consultation facility for back-up advice, guidance and instruction on absence management
  • Ad hoc on-site case management or problem consultation provision by specialist Medico-legal Consultants
  • Contracted on-site, Soma-sourced intervention management by shared or dedicated, roving or permanent, specialist Absentee Management Consultants to conduct return-to-work interviews, counseling sessions and to advise and guide on absence management and disciplinary issues where required

Soma iKon™ can be commissioned at one of two levels: clients may opt to either manage absence independently of, or in a consultative alliance with, Soma.

  • The Soma-independent option is designed to meet the needs of those clients seeking to manage absence independently of Soma but with the benefit of access to strategic management information as well as the Soma ad hoc and contracted services when deemed appropriate by the client.
  • The Soma-client consultative alliance is tailored to address the needs of those clients seeking more regular or extensive absence management consultation and/or to outsource absence management to an on-site, hands-on Soma Absentee Management Consultant.

Soma iKon™ is the management solution to the negative impact of the “Peter Principle” where the technically skilled and knowledgeable employee is promoted into (line) management but lacks the requisite people skills and knowledge and Human Resource Management training necessary to perform optimal absence management. The result is a technically and operationally effective (line) manager but whose inability to manage staff undermines his overall job efficacy, and hence corporate performance.

Soma iKon™ is an impartial, neutral intermediary service which facilitates the execution of a sensitive and highly emotive management burden resulting in empowered (line) management who are then less reluctant to address this issue.

Soma iKon™ is proof that there is a return on investment in absence management which justifies (line) management resource and time expenditure.

Soma iKon™ is the means to unlocking the value of raw, and statistical, absence data by producing actionable management information which is meaningful and relevant, and narrows the gap between information provision and a fuller understanding of why it should be acted upon.

Soma iKon™ is tailored, targeted and directly applicable to an organization rather than a generic response to a global affliction thus resulting in effective focused, organization- and industry-specific problem-solving.

Soma iKon™ breaks the cycle of absence becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, catch-22 situation, chicken-or-egg scenario
: “… ignoring a problem exacerbates it which makes addressing it less attractive – the problem is then not addressed which exacerbates the problem further which makes it even less attractive to address …”

Optimal business performance demands input cost minimization and output benefit maximization. Human capital is an essential input cost that presents unavoidable, but manageable threats to company productivity and concomitant financial performance.

Focused, goal-directed employee absence management therefore presents a significant opportunity to boost organisational performance and productivity. Effective employee management demands a proactive approach to the identification, and subsequent treatment of individuals requiring intervention.


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