The hard part is over. You’ve selected a disability carrier and you want to make sure your organization makes the most out of your new plan. But, there’s still work to do to ensure that your disability management program starts off on the right foot.
I’ve been in dozens of implementation meetings and have learned they can make or break a company’s use of its disability program and can often define a program’s success. Implementation meetings are the opportunity for you and your carrier to learn about each other, understand processes, and — most importantly — help your organization learn how to get an employee the kind of assistance they need to stay at work or return to work.
So how can you use implementation meetings to best take advantage of your disability carrier? Here are a few guiding principles:
Help the carrier understand your culture. No two organizations are alike, and no two disability management programs should be alike. Take some time to get familiar with each other. Before a meeting takes place, a carrier wants to understand the employer’s current disability process, who the important internal stakeholders are and if there are common problems or health conditions present within your workforce. This will help ensure that specifics are addressed during the implementation meeting.
Gather everyone at the same time. Once a carrier has a baseline understanding of your organization and its challenges, an implementation meeting should be called to get everyone together to talk about the carrier’s process and how it can help. One of the most important things here is to make sure this meeting is cross-functional and doesn’t just include representatives from HR. Consider extending invites to executives and/or senior management, ADAAA or FMLA coordinators and even facilities services.
While face-to-face conversations aren’t always possible, virtual meetings can do the trick. This can be helpful for large organizations with multiple locations all over the country. It’s important for everyone to hear the information first-hand and make sure the organization is working toward a common goal.
Include your other benefits vendors. In managing employee absence and disability, a solution may present itself that is technically part of another benefits offering you already have. Some of the best implementation meetings I’ve been to include representatives from a company’s health insurance, workers’ compensation, employee assistance, wellness or disease management program. Having these representatives in attendance can help make introductions and create an incredibly strong program overall.
Ask questions. Don’t assume anything, especially if you haven’t been through implementation meetings before. Encourage participation from everyone. This is your opportunity to meet staff, gain contacts and gather information. Hold back and you just might cut yourself short.
Many employers think program implementation is hard work. But, it doesn’t have to be. It’s simply a few phone calls and a big meeting to start everyone off on the same page. The better prepared you are at the start, the more successful your approach to disability management can be down the road.