man with hand on wheelchair wheelBalancing the right way to help employees either return to work orstay at work and be productive can be easier with the rightdisability carrier.


Organizations are impacted every day by employees' health conditions. Whether an employee isexperiencing chronic pain, or an individual needs time offto treat a mental health issue, you are being challengeddaily to provide ways to properly support an employee whileensuring the business remains productive. Balancing the right wayto help employees either return to work or stay at work and beproductive can be easier with the right disability carrier.


May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, making it agreat time to take a critical look at the way your disabilityinsurance program addresses employee absences and disabilities. Isyour program reactive? Does it require employees to prove they aredisabled before providing help? Does it treat health conditionswith a siloed approach?


If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want torethink how your program handles employee absence and disability. Agood disability carrier should try to help you address thesequestions, while also trying to help prevent delayed recovery, orthe lengthening of an employee's medical condition, which can oftenhinder a return to work. Delayed recovery can be caused bytreatments not going as expected, comorbid (or multiple) conditionsbeing present at the same time, financial concerns, complex familyissues, or child- or elder-care concerns.


Related: Long-term disability insurance gets littleattention but can pay off big time


Some disability carriers take the approach of looking at all ofthese potential factors as part of the employee's entire situation,which may better address the employee's needs and help in recovery.This approach includes engaging with an employee to help learn moreabout the medical condition as it pertains to the job and any otherrelated external factors he or she may face.


By adopting a holistic approach that considers other factorsthat could affect an employee's recovery, you can offer morecreative accommodations and coordinate other program benefits toensure an employee gets the assistance they need to be productiveor return to work. Look for a carrier with a comprehensive programthat supports these four important actions:

Identifying the person in need of assistance

While many employers are unsure of how to identify and supportan employee with a medical condition at work, they aren't alone. Anorganization's disability carrier should try to understand anemployer's organizational culture, integrate with theorganization's internal benefits team and provide managers with theinformation they need to identify an employee in need ofstay-at-work or return-to-work assistance.

Interacting with the employee

Comprehensive disability carriers often have consultantsavailable to engage an employee in conversation and betterunderstand what factors may be contributing to delays in theirrecovery. A consultant may be able to talk with an employee tobetter understand the outside issues that may be impacting him orher and consider the right resources that could help them.

Integrating programs to treat employees

While a disability carrier may be able to offer robustassistance to help an employee with a stay-at-work orreturn-to-work plan and accommodations, it also may be able tointegrate other benefit resources to help them get the full rangeof support they need. This can include support to help navigate thehealth care system during treatment or recovery through referralsto other benefits vendors, including disease management, wellnessand employee assistance programs.

Improving outcomes for your organization

A comprehensive approach that treats the whole person may helpan at-risk employee stay at work and may also allow an employeewith a disabling condition to return to work more quickly. Yourcosts may be lowered when employees can return to work more quicklyand be productive upon their return.


A more comprehensive approach to disability management helpsaddress the diverse reasons that may influence or slow down anemployee's recovery process. And proper proactive support, whetheremployees are experiencing chronic pain or need time off to treat amental health issue, can help ensure your employees stay healthyand productive at work.


Increasing employee productivity can have a far-reaching impacton your organization. Fully functional employees can help boostemployee engagement, as employees want to contribute and feel likethey're making a difference in their work. Not only that, butengaged employees are generally more productive, which can helpboost your clients' bottom line.


Jung Ryu is the national accountspractice leader for The Standard and is responsible for developingcomprehensive disability management solutions that address thewhole person to meet the needs of the most complex clients. Heprovides recommendations in all aspects of benefits ranging fromcore to ancillary products, and is focused on providing strategicdirection and advising stakeholders on the latest benefitstrends.

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