Four ways to make reasonable accommodations a reality

Four ways to make reasonable accommodations a reality

It’s no secret reasonable accommodations are a win-win for employees and employers. Not only can they help employees work more comfortably, boost productivity and minimize missed work due to medical leaves — but accommodations also can serve as tangible evidence of an organization’s commitment to its employees’ well-being.

Despite the inherent benefits they offer, reasonable accommodations might seem like a challenge to implement, especially knowing HR managers are strapped for time. Here are four ways you can more effectively and efficiently implement reasonable accommodations:

  1. Make your first stop your disability carrier. Avoid being bounced around your company’s legal department or muddling through content-laden industry association websites. Instead, you can go directly to your disability carrier. Case managers can research, acquire and implement equipment and modifications as well as follow up with an employee to ensure the accommodations are working.
  2. Connect the dots between wellness programs, employee assistance programs and others. Sound solutions often require pooling the knowledge and services offered by multiple employer-sponsored benefit providers, such as workers’ compensation, employee assistance and wellness programs. While working with multiple providers may seem like a time-consuming effort, it doesn’t have to be. Your disability carrier can serve as the liaison between the programs and lead collaborative efforts between all parties, while keeping you informed but out of the middle.
  3. Move past cost misconceptions. We recently found that HR managers believe the average price tag on a reasonable accommodation to be about $1,000.1 In actuality, there are many low-cost accommodation options that can be easily implemented. Approaches such as job restructuring, schedule modification and even assistive technology and equipment are often fairly inexpensive, but incredibly helpful, ways to help an employee manage his or her medical condition while at work.
  4. Leverage experts to help implement. When you leave reasonable accommodation recommendations and implementation up to experienced experts in nursing, mental health and ergonomics, they will be able to ask the right questions when conducting an employee assessment and determining what is best for the employee. This approach helps ensure the right accommodations are put forward.

With these four steps, you’ll be able to work smarter — not harder — to make reasonable accommodations a reality in your workplace.


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

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