Workplace Possibilities Q&A: Future leaves, wellness programs and consultants

As Workplace Possibilities’ program manager, I help implement and coordinate numerous programs to help employees get back to work and be productive. There are a few questions I hear from HR managers again and again. Although these might seem like complex issues at the surface, you may be surprised what a difference a second opinion can make.

A consultant from your disability insurance carrier can often provide just the insight you need. This consultant — who may be a vocational, nurse or mental health case manager — will give you expert advice on that exact employee’s issue.

So what common questions can a consultant help you with?

“One of my employees is dealing with some health issues and might need to take a disability leave. How can I start helping this employee now?”
Start by considering preventative measures such as ergonomic accommodations or temporary job accommodations. If the employee is already out on a disability leave, it’s important to work on a return-to-work plan. By getting a head start, you can save time and provide the best possible solution for the employee.

“We want to provide a wellness program to our employees. How can I make the most of this?”
Chances are, you’re providing extra resources to help your employees stay well — and stay at work. Employee assistance programs and wellness/disease management programs are some of the most common.

To make the most of your program, match at-risk employees with the right resources or survey your employees to see which types of resources would be most beneficial for them. If you’re stuck, a disability consultant can ask the tough health-related questions for you, encourage employees to connect with the appropriate resource and may even be able to connect employees with benefits offered by other carriers in your benefits package.

“My carrier doesn’t offer a consultant. Now what?”
If your disability carrier doesn’t provide consultants, you can still get help for your at-risk employees through the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (rehabpro.org). This website will help you find a nearby consultant who can help in areas such as accommodations, ergonomics and case management.

Here’s a phrase we’ve all heard before — two heads are better than one! With an objective individual helping solve these common issues, you may be able to reduce the instances of disability in your workplace.

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