Workplace productivity is often a crucial contributing factor toward your company’s bottom line. Often, the bulk of the responsibility to maintain productivity falls on the HR department. With continued cuts to staffing and budgets, you may agree that doing the best you can with what you have is becoming increasingly more difficult. But, as an HR professional, you can play a key role in addressing productivity challenges. One way to start is by partnering with a qualified return-to-work team focused on managing absence and disability through a program that features a dedicated on-site consultant.
At the end of June, my colleagues and I will be addressing this topic head-on at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference and expo. My company, The Standard, will have a booth at the show and several of us will be helping attendees understand the value an integrated return-to-work program can bring to their company.
As a disability and productivity consultant with The Standard’s Workplace PossibilitiesSM program, I’ve met with a lot of HR professionals, and I can tell you that many companies need a solution for managing absence and disability that takes into account the nuances of its workplace. If you think of the typical return-to-work case, coordination happens among doctors, your department, upper management, health care providers and the employee. That is a lot to tackle. Having someone involved who doesn’t understand your company’s policies complicates the situation even further.
By partnering with a qualified return-to-work team, you start to unburden your department. Having a Workplace Possibilities on-site consultant1 can help increase your department’s ability to address employees’ return-to-work issues while ensuring all of your company’s protocols are followed. The on-site consultant becomes a member of your team. He or she understands your company’s philosophy and approach to return to work just as comfortably as your HR team members. The on-site consultant is positioned to work directly with supervisors and employees to see that return-to-work cases are handled properly and efficiently.
Many times, employees who are out with a disability are not working for a few key reasons:
- The employer isn’t aware of the employee’s capabilities
- The employee isn’t aware that work is available for him or her to do
- There is a misconception regarding bringing the employee back to work within limitations and restrictions
When you are able to really look at the perceived barriers, the solution may not be too complex. However, having the time to reach these conclusions is often the toughest part. In an effective program, the Workplace Possibilities on-site consultant acts as a return-to-work conduit. He or she will act on HR’s behalf, reviewing claims where return to work may be possible and identifying next steps, such as coordinating a start date, contacting a physician’s office to clarify restrictions or performing an ergonomic assessment.
In more complex cases, additional steps and time may be necessary. For example, a medical receptionist’s chronic illness meant she could not be exposed to people who were ill. In this case, the on-site consultant was able to coordinate with the receptionist’s employer and medical providers to identify an accommodation that fit within her work restrictions. By placing the receptionist in a call center during winter months, she was able to avoid the onset of illness. Not only was the employee able to remain at work, the HR team was able to save time by acting in a supervisory role, rather than executing the accommodation.
Through a coordinated effort, where HR and the Workplace Possibilities on-site consultant work together, the common goal of helping employees stay at work or return to work sooner can be achieved. If you plan to attend the SHRM conference this year, I invite you to The Standard’s Booth 1130 to learn more about how we are changing the way companies manage absence and disability with our Workplace Possibilities program.
1The Workplace Possibilities program is available through The Standard’s Group Disability Insurance. An on-site consultant is available for groups with 1,000 or more employees. This policy has exclusions, limitations, reduction of benefits and terms under which the policy may be continued in force or terminated.