The Value Of Bradford Factor Scores On Employee Attendance

May 04, 2023

the value of bradford factor scores on employee attendance

The Bradford Factor is a widely used method of measuring employee attendance and identifying patterns of absenteeism. By assigning numerical scores to employee absences based on their frequency and duration, employers can identify those who may be at risk of excessive absenteeism and take appropriate action.

In this article, we explore the value of Bradford Factor scores and how they can be used to improve employee attendance and productivity.

What is the Bradford Factor?

The Bradford Factor is a simple formula used in human resource management to calculate the impact of employee absences on a company's productivity.

Named after the UK city of Bradford - where it was first developed by the Bradford University School of Management in the 1980s - you may also hear it referred to as the Bradford Formula, the Bradford Index, or the Bradford Score.

The idea behind the Bradford Factor is that frequent short-term absences can be more disruptive to a company's operations than infrequent long-term absences.

The formula assigns a score to each employee based on the number of absences they have had, and the duration of each, over a specified time period - typically a year. The higher the score, the more disruptive the absences are considered to be.

Why is the Bradford Factor important?

The Bradford Factor is important because it helps companies to identify employees who have a high level of absence and to understand the impact that these absences may be having on the organization.

By calculating the Bradford Factor, companies can quantify the disruptive effect of an employee's absence pattern, rather than simply counting the number of days an employee is absent.

Using the Bradford Factor can help companies to prioritize their attendance management efforts and to focus on those employees who are having the greatest impact on productivity. It can also help to identify patterns of absence and potential causes, such as workplace stress, illness or personal issues.

Additionally, the Bradford Factor can be a useful tool for setting attendance policies and guidelines. For example, companies may use the Bradford Factor to determine when an employee's absence level reaches a point that triggers disciplinary action, such as a written warning or termination.

How to calculate Bradford Factor scores

the value of bradford factor scores on employee attendance

The Bradford Factor score is calculated by multiplying the number of absences an employee has had by itself, and then multiplying the result by the total number of days absent.

The formula is: S² x D = B, where S is the total number of spells of absence, D is the total number of days absent, and B is the Bradford Factor score.

For example, an employee who has had 5 absences of 1 day each would have a Bradford Factor score of 125 (5² x 5 = 125), while an employee who has had 1 absence of 5 days would have a score of 25 (1² x 5 = 25).

What is an acceptable Bradford Factor score?

There’s no universal threshold for an acceptable Bradford Factor score, as what’s considered good or bad can vary depending on company policy, industry and other factors.

However, as a general rule of thumb a lower score is better, indicating that an employee's absences are less disruptive to the organization:

  • Scores of 10 or less: these are low scores, with the employee having had a few short-term absences over the specified time period. This is generally considered an acceptable level of absence.

  • Scores of 50 to 100: this score range indicates that an employee has had several short-term absences over the specified time period, which may prove disruptive to the organization. Companies may want to monitor employees with scores in this range and consider implementing attendance improvement plans.

  • Scores of 200 and above: this score range suggests that the employee has had multiple short-term absences or one or more extended absences, the likely outcome of which is a significant disruption.

So, generally speaking, a "good" Bradford score would be one that is low, indicating that the employee has had few absences or has had only longer absences rather than many shorter ones.

A "bad" Bradford score would be one that is high, indicating that the employee has had many frequent and/or short absences, which can negatively impact productivity, team morale and the organization's bottom line.

How to evaluate Bradford Factor scores

Just as there’s no universal threshold for good or bad Bradford Factor scores, there’s no one single method used for evaluation.

The most common approach is to use Bradford Factor scores to identify trigger points - predetermined levels of absence that may trigger specific actions or interventions by the company.

For example, a company may set a trigger point at a Bradford Factor score of 50, whereby an employee who reaches this score is considered to have a mildly concerning level of absence that warrants a review.

Alternatively, a company may set trigger points at different score levels for different departments or job roles, based on their specific needs and requirements.

Some common actions set at varying Bradford Factor trigger points include:

  • Monitoring attendance: employers may choose to monitor the attendance of employees who have reached a trigger point to ensure that their absence does not continue to impact the organization.

  • Providing support: employers may provide support to employees who have reached a trigger point, such as counseling or access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), to help address any underlying issues that may be contributing to their absence.

  • Initiating disciplinary action: employers may initiate disciplinary action against employees who have reached a trigger point and have not improved their attendance, as this level of absence may be considered unacceptable.

  • Implementing performance improvement plans: employers may implement performance improvement plans for employees who have reached a trigger point, outlining specific actions and targets for improving their attendance and performance.

Using Bradford Factor scores in the workplace

the value of bradford factor scores

As a measure of the disruption caused by absenteeism, the Bradford Factor can prove a valuable workforce metric when used as part of a broader approach to attendance management.

In practical terms, the first step is to set up a system for tracking attendance data. This may be a manual or electronic system, depending on the size of the business and the number of employees.

With this in place, the next step is to set appropriate thresholds - i.e. levels of absenteeism that trigger further action. This could include counseling or disciplinary measures, but it should be done in a way that is fair and consistent for all employees.

In terms of communicating Bradford Factor scores, employers should be transparent and clear about how the scores are calculated and how they will be used. Employees should be informed of their own Bradford Factor score and provided with guidance on how to improve their attendance if necessary.

It’s important to ensure that communication is respectful and non-judgmental, and that employees understand that the purpose of the Bradford Factor is to identify and manage absenteeism, not to punish or criticize employees.

Finally, organizations should take a proactive approach to addressing underlying causes of absenteeism. This may involve making changes to work schedules or providing additional support for employees who are struggling.

Employers should also consider whether there are any systemic issues within the workplace that may be contributing to absenteeism, such as a toxic work culture or unreasonable workload expectations.

By addressing these underlying causes, employers can promote a healthy and productive workplace and help employees to improve their attendance over the long term.

Is the Bradford Factor fair?

The Bradford Factor brings multiple benefits to an organization. In particular, it provides a simple and objective way to track and analyze employee absences.

By assigning numerical scores to different patterns of absences, employers can quickly identify employees who may have attendance issues and take action to address those issues.

Additionally, the Bradford Factor can provide a straightforward way to compare absenteeism rates between different departments or teams, which can help managers identify areas that may require additional support or resources.

However, it's important to note that the Bradford Factor has also been subject to criticism.

One criticism is that it penalizes employees who have genuine reasons for being absent, such as illness or caring for a family member. It may also not take into account employees who are dealing with chronic illnesses or disabilities that may require them to take frequent absences.

The Bradford Factor can also encourage presenteeism, when employees come to work even when they’re sick to avoid the negative consequences of taking time off. This can be harmful to both the employee and the workplace, as it can lead to the spread of illness and reduced productivity.

Should you use the Bradford Factor?

While the Bradford Factor can be a helpful tool, it has its limitations and should not be relied upon as the sole measure of employee attendance.

Employers should use the Bradford Factor as part of a more holistic strategy for better absence management that takes into account the individual circumstances of each employee and the underlying reasons for their absences.

To make tracking attendance and calculating Bradford Factor scores easier, automate the process using our attendance tracking software. This valuable tool reduces errors and saves time, allowing you to focus on addressing attendance issues and promoting a healthy and productive workplace.