The Bradford Factor: What is it and how's it calculated?

The Bradford Factor (or Bradford Formula as it’s sometimes known) was originally developed in the 1980's at the Bradford University School of Management as a way to measure the impact of various patterns of absenteeism.

It is based on a simple premise; that many short term incidents of absence are more disruptive than a single, longer term incident.

How to calculate the Bradford Factor

It is calculated using the following formula...

i = The number of times someone has been off due to illness.
d = The total number of days they have been off due to illness.

Bradford Factor Score = i * i * d

Let’s take a simple example to illustrate the results. Person A is away on 5 separate occasions, for a single day each time. The number of times off, i, is five, and the total days off d, is also five. Their Bradford Factor score is: -
5 * 5 * 5 = 125.

Their colleague, person B, is also away for 5 days, but this time in a single 5-day event. The number of times off, i, is only one this time, and the total days off d is five. Their Bradford Factor is much lower: -
1 * 1 * 5 = 5.

Don’t worry if that’s just a load of techno-babble. Team Absence takes care of all this maths, so you don’t have to.

How to use it as part of your absence management

Learning how to use the Bradford Factor to improve absence management.
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Heavy handed use of metrics like this for absence management are likely to only alienate your staff. There can be many reasons why people are away, and just blindly treating high Bradford Factor scores as bad, and low ones as good is too simplistic for most people.

We recommend using it as an additional data point to help you better understand the health of your business. If one team has a high average score, and another a low average score, it might be worth investigating to understand the cause.

In fact, care needs to be taken not to unfairly penalise staff. The Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 and Equality Act of 2010 require employers to take proper account of the individual circumstances of disabled employees, for example. Some disabilities can result in frequent short term absences which can unfairly inflate their Bradford Factor score.

A better solution is to track this kind of absence separately from more general sick leave. Simple create a new type of absence in Team Absence, taking care to not classify it as sickness or holiday. Any absence logged using this will not contribute to the Bradford Factor calculations.

How ever you choose to use it, Team Absence makes tracking Bradford Factor scores very simple. Our new sickness report (coming soon) gives you a breakdown of Bradford Factor scores for each team in your business, as well as the top 10 team members by the Bradford score.

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