How to advocate and accommodate

advocate and accommodate

What makes your job in human resources (HR) uniquely rewarding? You have the ability — and the challenge — to advocate for those around you. You’re a champion for your fellow employees. But it’s not always easy to be the advocate you aspire to when you’re juggling a growing list of responsibilities.

In our last post,  we discussed how you can take a new approach to employee accommodations. To that end, we hear a few recurring pain points from HR managers, especially in regard to employee accommodations. With these comments in mind, we’ve put together the following list of recommendations for how you can rely on your disability carrier so you can be an even better employee advocate.

“I don’t have time to help as much as I’d like.”
The Standard recently found HR managers spend, on average, eight hours per month managing employee absences and disabilities.1 By partnering with your disability insurance carrier’s expertise, you still can achieve the end goal of an appropriate accommodation without overburdening yourself. Ask your disability insurance carrier to provide guidance from a medical or vocational case manager.  These professionals should be able to help with everything from research to sourcing and installing accommodative equipment to follow-up with employees.

“I have an employee who needs an accommodation. I should contact legal first, right?”
Yes, legal departments — and professional organizations, for that matter — are valuable assets. But why not solve two problems at once? Not only is a disability insurance consultant well-versed in regulations and compliance, they also have an experienced perspective about what types of accommodations have been successful for other clients and can help you efficiently implement the right accommodation.

“Accommodations seem expensive. We can’t afford to spend thousands on this.”
Although your priority is advocating for employees, it’s also your responsibility to be cognizant of your company’s bottom line. Don’t let the fear of a large price tag get in the way of providing the right accommodation, especially because the solution may be much less expensive than you think.

According to a recent study by the Job Accommodation Network, employers reported a high percentage (57 percent) of workplace accommodations cost absolutely nothing, while the rest typically cost only $500.2 The survey also noted that these small investments reap big rewards. Surveyed employers reported that providing accommodations resulted in high-value benefits such as retaining valuable employees, improving productivity and morale, reducing workers’ compensation and training costs, and improving company diversity.2

These tips can help eliminate some common pain points and give you the freedom to be the employee advocate you aspire to be. Don’t be afraid to ask your disability carrier to help you accomplish your goals.

1Data based on a survey of 300 respondents and conducted in September 2014 by a third-party research firm hired by The Standard.

2Loy, Beth. Accommodation and Compliance Series: Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact. Job Accommodation Network website. Updated September 1, 2014. Accessed January 5, 2014.

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