Each day, we work with human resources representatives and health and safety managers to provide the support and guidance needed for their absence management programs. Our day-to-day contacts want to know that their absence management provider is a partner who operates as an extension of their company, working with them to improve and simplify the absence process for all stakeholders. Good communication is a key part of our success. Providing information about all pieces of the program, including specifics regarding any complex or concerning active claims, is essential.
In many cases, our day-to-day contacts are not the final decision makers. Members of the leadership team often have the final say but can typically only dedicate a small amount of time to assess their absence programs. When they do have the time to review, we’ve found that there are specific factors that rise above the rest in the hierarchy of importance. They need to be able to grasp the strengths and the opportunities of the absence management program, while keeping in mind the medium- and long-term objectives.
Poor performance can make it difficult to justify program investments, which can lead to further deterioration, and programs that are difficult to manage. Benchmarking against a peer group ensures you are on the right track and promotes further progression with absence programming. Especially when it comes to workers’ compensation performance, leadership team members want to ensure their program is outperforming their competitors, where possible, to control costs and provide employees with a safer workplace.
While every organization may have a slightly different focus, here are the top seven factors we find leadership team members want to review when evaluating their absence management programs:
- Measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): KPIs are essential for program success and alignment with organizational goals. Your absence strategy should have defined and measurable outcomes that positively impact cost and absenteeism in both the short and long-term. Measurable outcomes require optimal, clearly defined goals that report on reductions in the actual number of days of absence taken by employees, the dollars spent on overtime costs for staffing shortfalls, and the administrative costs of managing all employee leave issues. In order for the leadership team to be able to measure these outcomes, well defined KPIs need to be readily available and up to date for assessment.
- Employee and manager experience: Whether its an ill or injured employee, or the manager or HR working with that employee, a good program ensures that all stakeholders have a positive experience throughout the entire absence continuum. If employees and managers are satisfied, employee engagement and satisfaction rise because disabled employees are being treated more equitably, resulting in improved return to health and productivity.
- Cost reduction and containment: At the end of the day, managing and reducing costs is always a business priority. Leaders want to achieve a positive return on investment in their absence management programs through documented cost reductions so that they can quantify when and how to invest.
- Technology: As the world becomes more digital, organizations increasingly have technology goals. Absence technology is becoming a must-have for innovative organizations. Superior absence management technology not only ensures privacy and data protection, but it also improves the employee and manager experience throughout the absence process. Everyone wants automation. Employees need to be able to submit claims and provide updates online in real time; and managers need to be able to run reports, upload documents, and receive claim updates on demand.
- Mental Health: Over the past decade, mental health has become an increasingly important factor. Organizations have started monitoring and investing in mental health initiatives to increase the overall health and productivity of their employees. Although the full absence picture will still outweigh the specifics, leaders are increasingly open to investing more time and resources to mental health claims and preventative tools.
- Integrated Absence Management: Models that separate occupational and non-occupational absences require additional resources and time from management to evaluate and understand the separate programs. Integrated models allow for one program for all absence types, providing lower costs and higher returns, and supplying leaders with the opportunity to review their absence profile as a whole, rather than piece by piece. With an integrated program, leadership team members can be provided with a quick snapshot that highlights what areas are impacting them the most, whether it is their workers’ compensation claims, their short-term disability claims, or maybe even a specific claim type or location.
- Preventive Initiatives: Strategic planning should include linking cost drivers to workplace initiatives, such as customized return-to-work programs, to prevent future absences. Too often, organizations put programs in place that don’t target the right problems. Projecting leading causes of absence based on the future sociodemographic profile provides your leadership team with a map of where and when to invest to generate the most beneficial return for the long run.
At the end of the day, different organizations may vary slightly in their priorities, but a sustainable absence program is always a worthwhile goal. With limited time to manage their absence management strategy, leadership team members want to be confident that their provider will optimize and manage their programs, so they don’t have to. At ReedGroup, we work hand-in-hand with our clients to report on the most important metrics and ensure your leadership team gets information that lets them plan and invest effectively.
Information provided on this blog is intended for general educational use. It is not intended to provide legal advice. ReedGroup does not provide legal services. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this or any other topic.