Policyfortællinger om sygefravær i Furesø Kommune

Mette Marie Winther

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


In this thesis “Policy narratives about sickness absence in the Municipality of Furesø”, I shall examine how the focus from politicians and the administration on reducing sickness absence makes sense in the individual day care centre. I shall also examine which conflicts exist between the managers’ policy narratives about sickness absence and the guidelines, procedures and attitudes, which the management group represent. As the HR manager in the Municipality of Furesø, I have for many years worked with sickness absence in my everyday life. This is why I have chosen to write my thesis about sickness absence in order to be able to concentrate on the subject and hopefully create new knowledge for my organization and myself. In recent years, there has been growing focus on reducing sickness absence, as there are large potential savings in a reduction of the sickness absence rate either in the form of more employees present or less use of temporary resources. The local government in the Municipality of Furesø has decided to use a cross-disciplinary result index that the total sickness absence rate in the municipality is to be reduced to below 4.5% at the end of 2014. To support the managers’ work to reduce sickness absence, new HR guidelines have been introduced about the handling of sickness absence. The municipality’s total sickness absence statistics will now also be distributed to all managers in the municipality so that they can benchmark their own unit to other units in the municipality. In continuation hereof, the managers are asked to prepare action plans if the sickness absence rate in their unit is above 6%. For my thesis, I have chosen to use the municipality’s day care area for 0-6 year olds as my case, because the sickness absence rate is relatively high in this area, and because the area employs many people. A change in the sickness absence rate in this area would therefore have significant impact on the municipality’s total sickness absence rate. This is why the administration in the municipality has focused more on this area than on other areas. I have completed interviews with four managers from day care institutions and two interviews with managers responsible for a number of day care institutions. 4 The theoretical perspective of this thesis is social constructivist, according to which you do not collect data, but create data during the process of interviewing and analysing the statements from the informants. I have used a narrative polyphonic analysis strategy to define the organisation’s policy narratives about sickness absence from the perspective of the managers in the day care area. In my analysis, I have defined eight headlines for the policy narratives covering the themes, which the managers have talked about the most. The order of the narratives have been determined in an attempt to create a logical link from the daily work with sickness absence to the centrally established guidelines used in the daily work, the political targets and follow-up on these and finally the forward-looking perspective where the managers tell their narratives about what in their experience work in relation to reducing the sickness absence rate and can be expanded to the whole organisation together with proposals for new initiatives. In the concluding discussion, I have pointed out various conflicts between the managers’ policy narratives and the attitudes of the management group. The managers’ policy narratives also show that the focus on reducing sickness absence both politically and from the management makes sense in the individual day care centre even though it might differ slightly from case to case. In the analysis, the most surprising learning for me was that the managers’ motivation for reducing the sickness absence rate is clearly the children, i.e. their core task. To a very high degree, the managers also agreed that sickness absence is to be reduced by working with job satisfaction and social capital.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages56