Being able to determine whether a disability management program is truly successful often lies with the employees. It is our job as consultants and your job as HR professionals to prove that our efforts in getting people back to work sooner after a disability leave or keeping people on the job really work, and I believe one of the best ways to showcase success is by sharing someone’s personal experience with it. People typically connect best with stories that offer that human element — and that’s why I like to call them the “proof in the pudding.”
Here’s one success story, full of positive confirmations that really caught my attention:
The employee worked in a sedentary job for a nonprofit agency. She was having a hard time getting through her work day because she was suffering from a severe nerve condition in her hands and feet. On top of that, she had neck conditions that also were giving her trouble. Her conditions caused headaches and made it difficult for her to use a computer for any length of time, and she also experienced discomfort while sitting. She had not yet filed a claim, but her conditions were serious enough that our team of consultants felt it was worthwhile to intervene and determine if there was a way to keep her on the job and possibly avoid a claim.
A Workplace Possibilities on-site consultant assessed her workstation and made recommendations on how it could be reconfigured to better suit her body mechanics and her daily duties. Our consultant also identified several ergonomic devices aimed at reducing discomfort, repetitive motion and awkward postures. It might be surprising to learn that the total cost of the services and equipment was less than $1,800. It is a small sum compared with replacing a valued employee. The ergonomic devices included:
- A special keyboard with larger keys
- A hand/shoe mouse
- A foam tubing for support
- A numeric keyboard
- A tilting footrest and leg-up support
In addition, the employer supported these efforts by providing voice-activated software and monitor risers. All of these devices help the employee in many areas, including improved posture.
What I found most rewarding was the employee’s response. We saw an improvement in her productivity. Before, she had been leaving work because she was in too much pain, but with the addition of accommodations, she was able to work the entire day.
This story illustrates that sometimes it takes persistence and a willingness to experiment to make a huge difference in a hurting employee’s life. It also shows how a combined effort from the employee, our Workplace Possibilities on-site consultant and the employer can really make a powerful impact.
If you’d like to learn more about additional ergonomic solutions, take a virtual tour of our Workplace Possibilities Center.