First Look
Trends and Insights

Absence and Disability Management - How Are You Delivering?

We asked HR business decision-makers to rate their organization's absence and disability practices. We also wanted to know how confident they are in their programs. We used their scores to produce our Absence and Disability Readiness Index report.

Why should you care about scores? Because employers with low scores for absence and disability practices face some big risks, such as:

  • Higher absences
  • Lower productivity
  • Compliance violations and employee lawsuits

High Confidence, Low Scores

When it comes to disability readiness, employers feel confident in their ability to provide for their employees — but actual practice scores are low.

  • Fewer than half are tracking their absence or disability programs.
  • Fewer than half have formal return-to-work or stay-at-work plans.

What's the risk? Lack of self-assessment could lead to misunderstandings about program effectiveness — ultimately hurting employees by not providing the tools they need to stay at work or return to work.

 

Employers Are at Risk for Complaints — and Lawsuits

Employers lack a holistic approach to disability management. Most need help keeping up with the laws and figuring out how they apply.

  • Fewer than half of employers say their companies are well protected against employee complaints and lawsuits.
  • Nearly half of all HR professionals struggle to understand what counts as a “reasonable accommodation”or an “undue hardship.”

Many employers don't understand the meaning or value of accommodations. This could open them up to employee complaints and lawsuits. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, for example, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations unless doing so would cause an undue hardship.

 

Complex Accommodations, Behavioral Health Cases Are Challenging

Employers feel confident about providing accommodations of a few types, but not for complex conditions or behavioral health cases.

  • Less than half of employers feel very confident accommodating chronic diseases and conditions.
  • Only 29% feel very confident accommodating behavioral health conditions.

Accommodations can help keep employees at work, shorten RTW times and prevent leaves of absence. Without understanding how to provide accommodations for complex situations, employers risk lower productivity and higher absenteeism.

 

RTW and SAW Programs Lead to Greater Success

More than half of all companies lack formal RTW and SAW programs. Those that do see great results.

  • 25% of HR business decision-makers have formal programs, almost all of which reported that the programs have been very successful.

Employers with programs are seeing benefits like lower absenteeism, higher employee retention, better morale and improved productivity.

 

Employer-Employee Communication — Important But Not Always Adequate

Many employers reported that communicating with employees is important, but less than half of HR business decision-makers ranked their performance as “excellent.”

  • Less than half of HR business decision-makers say employers are doing an excellent job of communicating employee rights regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • Less than one-third reported that employers are effective at communicating rights under the ADAAA.

Our report shows that while employers value communication, they're not connecting with employees in meaningful ways when it comes to their rights and their privacy.

 

Ranking Solutions — Everyone Wants More Training

Employers tell us that funding is low on their list of priorities, behind greater training, more time and larger staffs.

  • 32% want more time
  • 32% want a larger staff
  • 29% want more money

Employers that provide additional funding without purpose or direction risk spending more with little change in results.

 

From Insights to Action

Put our research into practice. Follow these key tips to build a strong absence and disability management program.

 

Use Data

Use Data

Define, measure and benchmark absence and disability management programs against competitors

Connect

Connect With Resources

Get help with regulations, best practices and trends

Partner

Partner With a Disability Carrier

Foster collaboration among benefits vendors and find ways to destigmatize behavioral health

Invest

Invest in Formal Programs

Support employee productivity by partnering with a carrier on formal RTW and SAW programs

Communication

Focus on Communication

Strengthen employee communications and follow best practices for FMLA and ADAAA

Training

Build a Robust Training Program

Help managers identify conditions, communicate with employees and use accommodations

Want to Improve Your Absence and Disability Experience?

See all the insights and tips from our report. Give us your contact information and we'll send it your way.