Making the case for Disability Management
The ability to collect and analyze disability data is crucial to managing disability costs, as well as making the case to senior management that disability management and early return to work just makes sense. In both cases, it's necessary to gather complete information about all facets of the effect of disability on your work force. You might start by filling out our Lost Productivity Calculator.
Proactive employers have recognized the need for maintenance of comprehensive information about the frequency and total costs of disability absences, comprised of:
- Durations of disabilities via their diagnostic category
- Total costs of time lost due to disability including expenses related to replacement staff and lack of production
- Disability benefit costs and workers' compensation costs
- Costs of health benefits for those out on disability absence
- Trends in disabilities based upon job location, job duties, supervisor, etc.
Your disability, health and workers' compensation carriers should be able to provide you with reports on much of this data. Internally, you will need to develop a process to track disability related absences, early return to work initiatives, job accommodations and their costs and costs of replacement workers.
The Power of Self-Promotion
Don't wait for others to notice the results of your work, and don't rely on the employee "grapevine" to spread the word, either. You'll need to promote the value of your disability management program as much as possible. Possible methods could include the following:
- Sponsor "Disability Awareness Days." Advertise these and invite speakers from disability-specific interest groups in your community to speak at "brown bag lunches." The more people are exposed to people with various types of disabilities, the more comfortable they will become with the idea that there are "different abilities" rather than "disabilities."
- Do you have an employee newsletter? Create a "Spotlight on Abilities" column. Describe a successful job accommodation every time one is made. This will help to spread the word and also increase everyone's knowledge of the process. It will also help to dispel myths that people with disabilities are "less than able."
- Award supervisors who make job accommodations and assist their employees in returning from disability absences. Financial awards in the form of bonuses or letters of commendation will have a definite impact.
- Remember that job accommodations utilize efficiencies that can benefit all employees. You may want to solicit job efficiency suggestions from employees in the form of a "suggestion box" and award monetary prizes or certificates if suggestions are utilized.