We’ve discussed the accommodations process at length recently, and how managers play a crucial role as your eyes and ears for issues. But, of course, this process wouldn’t make it past the starting line without your expertise and support.
As a disability and productivity consultant, I’ve worked with many HR professionals over the years on cases of varying complexity. From this experience, I’ve identified four focus areas that can increase the likelihood of an accommodation’s success.
Work closely with the employee to help them through the process. This includes ensuring the employee understands his or her benefits. You also can offer information about other services available, such as your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Need a hand? Your disability carrier also may be able to help connect an employee with the right services.
Set clear expectations and promote continued collaboration. After you’ve worked with the employee’s manager to identify job functions or temporary tasks, make sure each transitional position has a written description and the employee has a copy of this accommodation plan. Review this plan often with the manager and the employee, and identify if duties have been changed at any time. And, of course, be sure to document any employee feedback.
Make good use of your disability carrier’s consultants. A consultant from your disability carrier can help you through the process by maintaining contact with the employee, manager and attending physician. And, if necessary, a consultant can arrange for an on-site job analysis and coordinate the implementation of any job accommodations. They also can work directly with the manager to identify the transitional duties or match the functional capacities of the employee with the demands of the job.
Connect the employee with your disability consultant for support. The disability consultant can provide employees with encouragement and guidance (“Ask your doctor this …” or “Consider mentioning that to your employer …”), which can give you peace of mind that the employee is getting the assistance they need, even when they’re on a disability leave.
With your support, employees will receive the accommodations and appropriate return-to-work transitions they need. And with the support of a disability consultant, you’ll have time to focus on other tasks while knowing the employee is in good hands.