Many health insurance agents and brokers are trying to sell more group disability insurance these days because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care (PPACA), and many producers who already sell group disability benefits are trying to diversify that line by selling more absence management services.
Of course, you already know the basics, but how do you boil those basics down from small business owners, human resources managers and benefits managers who may not have thought much about the topic and may barely have enough time to read the word “absence”?
I think the best approach is to talk about the 4 fundamental components of an integrated absence and disability management program.
When your client’s employees are absent from work, so is their productivity. For instance, incidental and extended absences alone add up to 8.7% of payroll, according to a 2010 Kronos/Mercer survey. And with employees still trying to do more with less manpower, preventing absences and keeping employees on the job — while being productive — is at the top of employers’ priority list.
Some of the common causes of employee absence today, such as mental health conditions (anxiety and depression) or chronic physical ailments (back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome), don’t always necessitate a disability or leave of absence (LOA). In fact, they can often be prevented by proactively integrating absence and disability management and including a prevention component.
Vehicles for addressing these concerns include:
- Employee assistance programs (EAPs).
- Health advocacy solutions.
- Job accommodations.
- Absence management solutions.
Here is an example of what you could tell employer clients about these types of programs.
1. Employee assistance programs (EAPs).
EAPs have long been used as a resource to help an employee deal with personal problems that can adversely impact his or her work, health and overall well-being. They tend to be an underutilized benefit, however. In today’s workplace, employers are up against lean staffing, which can have implications for mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Also, the uncertain economy has created a reason for more distraction at work with concern over finances, job security and more. When all of these problems add up, it can mean employee absence or decreased productivity on the job.
When possible, at a larger employer, one way to maximize EAP usage is to actively place an on-site consultant in the workplace as part of an integrated absence and disability management program.