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Departmental competition challenges absence and disability management: Speakers


LAS VEGAS — The biggest obstacle to holistically managing absence and disability for many employers is getting different departments to coordinate with each other, speakers said Monday at the Disability Management Employer Coalition's 19th annual conference in Las Vegas.

Integrated disability and absence management programs that include multiple departments — such as workers compensation, short- and long-term disability, and medical leaves of absence — can lead to cost savings, comprehensive data and enhanced employer compliance, among other benefits, said Loyd Hudson, Columbus, Ohio-based manager of integrated disability at American Electric Power.

Mr. Hudson spoke about the essentials of disability and absence management along with Adrienne Paler, Seattle-based human resources manager of leaves and accommodations at Inc., and Mike Moses, Portland, Oregon-based ADA case manager of integrated disability management at Kaiser Permanente, during the pre-conference “learnshop.”

However, Mr. Hudson said, getting stakeholders — including risk management, human resources and employee benefits — to work together can be challenging.

“What I see is these little turf wars between these silos, where risk management owns workers compensation and they're not going to let it go,” he said. “HR owns FMLA and they're not going to let it go. So the biggest obstacle to integrated disability is being able to take the leadership at a very high level in the organization and say we're no longer going to operate as siloed individual departments.”

The goal is to move to a coordinated approach where departments are communicating and working together, or a fully integrated approach where all employee absence is managed in one place, Mr. Hudson said.

“There are pieces of the pie that other groups don't have information for,” he said. “Without coordination, it's easy to get focused on what your job is and answer the questions you need to ... without understanding the bigger picture of what's happening with the individual (worker).”

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