It should be no surprise to anyone in the workforce that we are experiencing the impact of an aging workforce. For Generation Y or Millennials (born between 1980-2000), they've been waiting in the wings for their more senior colleagues to exit stage left for some time now. What may be complicating the opportunities for talent turnover involves the influence of employers needing to accommodate older workers with chronic disabilities.
Older workers = increase in prevalence of disability.
With a growing demand for younger, more technologically savvy workers, employers may find themselves less available to create opportunities for new talent given the need to accommodate age-related disability issues. Not only are employers struggling for ways to attract new hires, they also face the "brain drain" when experienced workers become disabled. As employees age, the risk of disability increases.
Aside from the impact of an aging workforce, there are other changes occurring in disability management landscape. The following list represents some of the more recently noted themes.
1) Increasing cost and number of days absent.
Statistics Canada reported that in the year 2000, the average absence per worker was 8.0 and in 2010, it jumped to 9.1 days. This increase in days absent correlates to a mounting cost burden for employers as disability from all sources (sick leave, salary continuance, short and long term disability) already represents between 2% to 3% of Canadian payroll costs. As per the Conference Board of Canada's 2012 report, the direct cost of absenteeism in businesses was estimated at $16.6 billion and the impact of the greying workforce will only continue to add pressure as a result of increases in disability related absences.
2) Greater emphasis on prevention
With the popularity of workplace wellness programs, promoting healthy lifestyles and illness prevention has picked up momentum. A growing emphasis on prevention and intervention means that employers and their service providers are taking a closer look at workplace policies, support for recovery and work environmental factors, accommodation, customized case management and supervisor training. Employers are dealing with the idea of whether they take should also assume the role of workplace health educators to create a culture where health and well-being is a priority.
3) Increased focus on claims coordination and integration
According to the 2013 Disability Management Employer Coalition and Spring Consulting Employer Leave Management Survey, 83% of employers surveyed are integrating Short-Term Disability programs with other employee leave programs. (up from 46% in 2011). Additionally, 77% of employers are integrating their LTD programs with other leave programs (up from 50% in 2011).
4) Mental health related disabilities continue to rise
According to CAMH, approximately one in five Canadians or 20% to 25% of a company's workforce may be dealing with mental health issues. Employers are challenged to face this reality head on given it is becoming the fastest growing disability type in Canada with an increasing number of cases reported for depression and anxiety. As per a Morneau Shepell survey, 66% of employees who took time off work didn't report it as a mental health issue. The associated cost to our economy from workplace losses represents more than $20 billion annually. (Mental Health Commission).
As employers continue to grapple with the pressures related to talent retention and disability accommodation in the workplace, there remain valuable ways to identify and implement areas for improvement. One of our specialities involves an evaluation of your current benefits program along with opportunities to better provide benefits information through training, mobile and in-person strategies. We invite you to contact us to learn more. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.