Sickies don’t come easy for local firm

By Fran Foo.

Suffering from a bad case of Mondayitis? Usually a simple text message or phone call to one’s manager would suffice, but workers at Qantas, National Australia Bank and ANZ don’t have it that easy.

First up, these employees have to go through a nurse contact centre to report their intent to skip work.

The calls are handled by experienced nurses who provide on-the-spot medical advice where possible based on the symptoms described by the caller.

Upon verification that the caller is indeed crook they are able to take the day off.

The nurse estimates a return to work date and sends an absence notification by email and/or SMS to the employee’s human resources manager or designated supervisor.

Information collated from the entire call process would then be used to populate an online reporting suite that provides a variety of granular reports.

 For instance, employers would be able to tell which employees were always absent on Mondays and the average days lost per employee per division. They would also be able to drill down into absences by reasons according to specific departments.

These include chest and respiratory, cardio-vascular, dental and flu. The service, provided by Direct Health Services, relies heavily on stable, unified communications systems especially since it’s not a normal contact centre, chief executive Paul Dundon says.

The centre has about 20 qualified nurses and takes about 1000 calls a day, Dundon says.

"When we first started three years ago, we had no technology set-up. Things were quite manual," he says.

About two years ago the company began shopping around for call centre technology and decided on Avaya’s IP Office.

He could not recall how much the Avaya system initially cost but said it was not expensive and was well worth it.

IP Office is more than a one-trick pony, offering telephony, conferencing, messaging and other services.

As a small business, cost was a factor but not if it compromised on quality, so products like Skype were out of the question.

We can’t just hook the nurses up to Skype. The call quality is just not there yet, Dundon says. The contact centre also has nurses who work from home, so simply relying on their home broadband connection wasn’t ideal, he says.

The Australian.

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