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In a Watson Wyatt Worldwide and Washington Group study, only 36% of respondents stated that they have or plan to implement an integrated disability management (IDM) plan, yet there are lots of reports and data to support IDM as a way to manage costs, strengthening employer-employee trust and demonstrate concern for employee health and well-being. Many employers haven't invested the time to integrate their programs and providers. The plan to create an effective IDM program is manageable when you break it down into its core components. I've found that there are basically six steps to implementing and maintaining a successful IDM plan.
Step 1: Look Inside. Before designing an IDM plan, analyze your current cost drivers, review company policies and workplace challenges and objectives. Know what factors trigger employee absence. Is there a trend or pattern?
Step 2: Integrate Public and Private Programs. A successful IDM plan incorporates programs that are regulated by the Canadian federal and provincial governments as well as private payer components. This includes: workers' compensation, short and long term disability, employee assistance programs (EAP), case management, rehabilitation, and return to work programs. To an injured or ill employee, his condition isn't broken up in increments. Employees don't want to be mired down in red tape of paperwork. This process can exhaust and perplex an employee and shift focus away from the recovery process.
Step 3: Imbed value-added programs. An IDM plan that incorporates return-to-work and rehabilitation elements sees employees return to work more quickly and safely by accommodating transitional duties during the disability recovery phase.
Worksite wellness programs imbedded in an IDM plan help employees adopt healthy lifestyles, identify program early and address medical risk factors.
Employee Assistance Programs offer professional and confidential services that help employees regain or maintain productivity.
Step 4: Track and Measure. IDM plans with great results track absenteeism rates. They include data management and reporting that tracks claim and absence information. In order to allow for easy access of data, analysis and review of program success, you need to track and know how to measure program milestones. Before you start down the IDM path, identify what you want to measure and what qualifies as successful outcomes.
Step 5: Coordinate through a single point of contact. A helpful approach to creating a seamless transition for employees provides a single point of contact through a case worker or disability specialist. When activities related to disability are coordinated, an employer avoids duplication of effort and absences can be monitored and tracked more effectively.
Step 6: Communicate regularly. Remember to develop a communication plan for all key audiences. Employees need to know what is required of them when they are absent or have a disability claim. Knowing the program goals and what's in it for them is important. They need to be updated about changes, processes, who to contact when and why. Make it easy for them and make the messages available in various formats from print, e-mail, web and in-person meetings. Employees learn in different ways. Don't be afraid to leverage social media, if it is a way your employees regularly communicate.
Got questions about how to create an IDM plan or where to start? Call or email me. We're here to help so you can focus on what you do best.
Absenteeism costs our economy billions every year. In fact, a recent report by the Conference Board of Canada stated that it costs the Canadian economy $7.4 billion per year in direct costs alone.
What happens when we throw indirect costs in the mix? It adds another $20 billion in costs per year.
Approximately 48% of companies say that employee absences cost them 1% to 2% of payroll, and 27% report these costs in the range of 3% to 5% of payroll. When indirect costs are factored in, absenteeism related costs can account for as much as 15% of payroll.
How much of this cost is avoidable? In these economically challenging times, increasingly, companies are looking for ways to increase their efficiencies and effectiveness. Managing their absence related processes is an important way to drive down direct and indirect costs as well as increase employee productivity and engagement.
By aligning health and productivity initiatives, companies can leverage integrated disability management programs in order to manage costs and show the importance of the health and well-being of their employees.
What does that look like for employers? It begins with the building of an overall wellness strategy that factors in all of the absence related processes, documentation and programs. The strategy looks for ways to eliminate stand alone and fragmented procedures. When an employee's illness or injury leads to a disability claim, the last worry the employee wants is having to deal with all the paperwork and processing of a claim; however, the burden of proof for a disability claim rests with the claimant.
By designing an integrated disability management program, employers can reduce absenteeism in duration and frequency, educate employees about wellness and streamline the disability claim process, when required.
Join me for Part 2 of this series as I explore the core components of an Integrated Disability Management Program.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.