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Disability Insurance Observer: Dessert

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Disability insurance marketers at WellPoint Inc. (NYSE:WLP) recently organized a survey of 1,005 U.S. adults ages 18 and older in honor of May’s Disability Insurance Awareness Month campaign.

The marketers discovered something amazing: 59 percent of the survey participants said they would give up coffee if that meant they’d get a dream job, and 65 percent said they’d give up sweets.

That really hit home with me, because I love sweets. 

Of course, someone who has a dream job will do just about anything to keep that job. 

But then, on the other hand, yesterday, I was reading an online discussion involving government employer workers who said they had great benefits and great job security but hated their jobs, mainly because of a combination of oppressive bureaucracy, a lack of a sense of purpose, and poisonous office politics.

One participant, who worked in a prison and at least must have had some sense of purpose, wrote that the worker politics were so bad that the inmates at his prison are happier than the guards.

Of course, that kind of attitude affects disability insurance claims. Too many workers love their paychecks but hate their jobs, and see collecting disability insurance benefits as a way to keep part of the pay without having to deal with annoying bosses and co-workers.

Here are some ideas about ways to improve that situation:

  1. Figure out how to give people a broader idea of what constitutes a “dream job.” 
    Now that I live in the New York area, I find myself amazed to find that many people think that the only possible good job is a job in the arts. Many schools somehow bring up small children to think that the only workers who have good jobs are artists, writers, scientists, health care providers and government employees — soldiers, police officers, firefighters and (surprise) teachers. When was the last time you saw a children’s book about what people do that mentioned bankers, lawyers, or even sales representatives? 
    Why exactly is it that we’re so quick to worship someone who makes a film that sells 100 tickets and so slow to value someone who designs a disability insurance policy that protects 10,000 people from devastation? 
    Too many people go through life thinking they’ve failed, in some way, because they don’t have the kind of job featured in children’s books.
  2. 2. View poisonous office politics as a disease that can be treated, like Alzheimer’s, or leprosy, rather than an inevitable fact of life.
  3. 3. Develop (or, if they already exist, popularize) standardized, validated surveys or other tools that employers can use to figure out just how poisonous their office politics is.
  4. 4. Come up with standardized, widely accepted tools for figuring out what kinds of office politics actually affect productivity, absenteeism, and health and disability insurance claim costs.
  5. 5. Go into captive audience types of offices, such as government employer offices, and test different methods for getting the poison out.

Solving the problem at an acceptable cost may be difficult, but curing Alzheimer’s is also difficult, and we haven’t given up on that.

Why accept the idea that the guards in some prisons think they are worse off than the prisoners should be an inevitable fact of life?

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