A white paper released by Prudential Financial has shown that employer-sponsored return to work programs work to reduce the length of disability absences, reduce costs, and boost employee productivity. Entitled Controlling the Uncontrollable, the paper concludes that a successful return-to-work program helps disabled employees return to work quicker through pro-actively identifying appropriate workplace modification and boosting employee morale by the recognition of their value to their organization. The direct and indirect costs of absences are thus reduced at the same time.
The paper recognizes the return-to-work programs already in place at many organizations but notes that they aren’t designed to receive the maximum benefits that result from a fully integrated program.
“Employers would do well to assess where they are on the Return to Work continuum and determine what next steps they can and should take,” notes Jim Porter, Vice President, Product Development, Disability Product Management for Prudential’s Group Insurance business. “The key to a successful program is the ability to track, validate and report absences. The more data employers have the greater their ability to take preventative measures that will positively impact their bottom line.”
Though 45 percent of plan sponsors have implemented a return-to-work program, most are too concerned about cost and resource-allocation issues and the potential negative reaction from employees to implement a full program.
“What they don’t realize is that employees also benefit from Return to Work in a way that focuses on what they can do rather than can’t do, with the structure to support that transition,” continued Porter. “These programs give disabled employees the opportunity to retain job skills and bring their income closer to pre-disability levels. Getting back to work sooner increases the morale not only of the affected employee but also of his or her coworkers.”