One of the best ways to tackle this issue is to implement a disability management program (DMP) to reduce the occurrence and effectiveness of illness and injury on workforce productivity, promote employee engagement, and ultimately help prevent the risks that cause these absences.
Prevention is one important component of disability management. Companies should consider the importance of an Employee Assistance Program and wellness programs, occupational health and safety legislation and standards, special working arrangements, and emergency and business continuity plans.
When an employee becomes ill or injured, the expectation is that they return to work upon full recovery. We are now seeing that the longer one is away from work, the less likely they are to return.
To help your company create a disability management program aimed at returning experienced, trained employees to work sooner, I have outlined a few key components worth considering adapting into your DMP.
- Create a healthy work environment by developing programs that speak to your employees’ needs, leading to a more positive work environment; research shows that a healthy workplace results in reduced absenteeism
- Boost employee engagement by supporting workplace well-being initiatives, which have shown to generate higher levels of employee engagement, and in turn leads to higher-performing companies
- Offer part-time return-to-work options to gain short-term productivity and maintain the relationship with employees who may otherwise be slow to return to work
- Implement streamlined methods to reduce paperwork and additional costs. Streamlining could help to reduce or even prevent employees from experiencing any additional stressors. Waiting for medical appointments, medical note charges, or requests for more medical details may delay the return to work
- Track reasons and frequency of absences in order to determine causes for absenteeism and then target programming and interventions to reduce them. You can work with your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) providers, use employee health risk assessments, anonymous employee surveys, or data from short- and long-term disability claims to gain a better understanding of the health issues facing your employees.
Absences are more likely to increase as employees age, and by being proactive and looking at patterns and causes, your company can put effective and targeted policies and programs in place to reduce productivity loss.
Do you believe your company would benefit from a structured absenteeism system? If your organization is currently tracking absenteeism, have the wellness programs offered changed as a result? I look forward to your feedback.