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Integrating absence, disability management creates efficiency

Posted On: Oct. 28, 2015 12:00 AM CST

Integrating absence, disability management creates efficiency

Terri Rhodes, CEO of the San Diego-based Disability Management Employer Coalition, said integrated absence and disability management can help employers streamline their processes for workers compensation and non-occupational disability leave while improving employee wellness.

Ms. Rhodes spoke of the advantages of integrated absence management during Business Insurance's sixth annual Workers Comp & Safety Virtual Conference on Wednesday.

Successful integrated absence management strategies tie together various programs, such as workers comp, short-term disability, long-term disability, and the federal Family Medical Leave Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as group health and overall wellness programs, according to Ms. Rhodes.

“Employers who employ this method of managing employee absence and disability have seen significant savings in costs, as well as administrative efficiencies,” she said. “Some employers have reported a savings as high as 40%, but typically around 25%. They see reductions in frequency, severity and costs.”

Ms. Rhodes said integrated absence management has been difficult to implement for some employers because workers comp and human resources professionals don't often collaborate within their companies. She recommended that comp professionals meet with their human resource counterparts to discuss return-to-work goals for employees and case management for health conditions that can be either occupational or unrelated to work, such as musculoskeletal injuries.

“Integration of risk management and HR increases talent efficiencies, while joint cost containment programs drive increased expense control, accelerate employee wellness, and improve productivity,” she said.

Ms. Rhodes also recommended that employers take incremental steps to implement integrated absence management programs if they haven't used such strategies before.

“My point here is that there is no one size fits all program,” she said. “The best program is one that fits with your organization's culture with the ideal that you integrate programs for a better employee experience, reduced time away from work, increased productivity and a gain in administrative efficiencies.”

To view Business Insurance's 2015 Workers Comp & Safety Virtual Conference online, click here.