How to Return to Work After A Disability



Returning to work after a disability can be challenging—not only might you feel out of the loop with relationships, projects and changes at work, but you are also dealing with the emotional and physical impact of your condition. (And if you didn’t have long-term disability insurance, you might be dealing with some financial repercussions as well.) But if you are feeling healthy enough to head back, you are probably eager to get back into the swing of things and “rejoin” work life. Here are some tips to ease the transition back to work.

 

Make Sure You’ve Been Cleared

Talk to your doctor about whether you’re truly ready to return to work and make sure that she has signed off on all the paperwork you need as documentation.

 

Practice Your Job At Home

Does your job entail a lot of typing? See how it feels to do so at home. Or, do you frequently give presentations? See if there are any challenges you’ll need to accommodate for, such as being able to stand or use the video equipment. Finding the potential pitfalls in advance will help you feel more confident. 

 

Talk To Human Resources

Chances are good that you’ve been in touch with the human resources department throughout your disability, but make sure that your first stop is to talk with them about any special accommodations you need, such as a quiet room to work in, a different kind of chair, assistance with mobility or an office space that features accessible design. While you’re there, revisit any sort of discussions you need to have about benefits.

 

Initiate a Chat with Your Supervisor

Whether it’s the same manager you left or someone new has taken the reins, schedule a private meeting with your supervisor to find out what you might have missed while out….new goals, new processes, new clients. Also be open with them about sharing any limitations you might have, whether they are physical or mental. Perhaps you need to take breaks more often, or can’t be on your feet for extended periods of time. If there’s information you’d like him or her to share with your team, this is the time to ask for that.

 

Communicate With Your Team

Part of the joy of work is the camaraderie you have with your workmates. If the same colleagues are still in your department, they surely have missed you, but they might be hesitant on how to approach you. Sending them a friendly email and then having lunch or coffee with them (as appropriate for your relationship) can be a good way to open the door. They might be unsure what topics are off-limits—be open with them about what you do and don’t want to talk about. Everyone has different privacy limits so consider yours and let your co-workers know. 

 

Start Slow

As you consider a return to work, plan for a staggered schedule as you get back into the swing of things. Maybe getting up and out the door is more difficult now so a later start is preferable. It could be that coming in every other day is the best you can manage to work efficiently, or you tire easier so you’d rather work five shorter days. Whatever schedule works for you is the right one; you don’t want to rush your return or re-entry. “As frustrating as it may be to spend long boring days at home, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be ready to resume working. A too-soon return could set back your recovery and set you up for failure, creating disappointment both for you and your company,” notes mindfulness and leadership development coach Isabel Duarte, who has experience returning from disability leave. 

 

Look Into Retraining

If you’ve been out for a while, you might have lost some skills or the rest of your team might have upskilled. You’ll gain confidence by getting up to speed so look into development opportunities for specific areas, whether you seek training from a fellow team member or ask your supervisor to recommend an outside course. 

 

Take Care of Yourself

No matter what the disability you are dealing with, you have undoubtedly had to relearn a host of skills that used to be second nature. In addition, adapting to a routine with a disability can be exhausting, especially when you have to return to work. Make sure you take time for self-care, whether than entails mild exercise, meditation, journaling or art therapy. And make sure to get plenty of rest so you can wake up refreshed and ready to handle the challenges that come with returning to work after a disability.


 




How Companies Can Ensure Employees Feel Supported While on Leave


By Gene Lanzoni, Marketing, Thought Leadership, Customer Insights 
The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America


 

With the expansion of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) more than a decade ago, employers have become more aware of their responsibilities with not only how to stay compliant, but the role they play in helping employees return to work. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lost productivity due to absenteeism in the U.S. cost employers $225.8 billion annually, or $1,685 per employee. In today’s competitive labor market, many employers are looking for ways to retain their employees and adopting leave practices that help employees return to work from an extended absence due to injury or disability is becoming a priority.

As such, employers are responding with more personalized leave management and more robust stay-at-work (SAW) accommodations. Guardian’s most recent biennial Absence Management Activity Index and Study–“The Value of Leave Management Integration,” found three in four employers with a high level of return-to-work (RTW) and SAW programs reported decreased absenteeism, compared to only 40% of companies with no formal SAW program.

Guardian’s study also reveals employers are paying greater attention to the employee experience, one that offers a more supportive environment with additional flexibility, resources, and education. Employers seeking to upgrade their absence management programs to generate positive outcomes like high employee satisfaction and retention should consider the following:

Better Return-to-Work and Stay-at-Work Accommodations 

While it’s important to communicate with employees throughout their disability leave, it’s equally important to provide them with a smooth transition back to work. Employers should establish a strong RTW program that guides employees in a way that makes them feel supported. Guardian’s study indicates 70% of employees who completed an RTW program feel their employer cares about them. Additionally, companies that have four to six RTW initiatives see a 78% reduction in lost time, compared with 48% of companies that have no RTW initiatives. 

Employers have become more aware of their responsibilities under the ADA and are identifying ways to help their employees stay at work following an absence. These activities have expanded beyond traditional vocational rehabilitation to include interactive processes, transitional work plans, and worksite modifications to accommodate employees with disabilities. Providing employees with resources like nurse case management and duration guidelines can help reduce the likelihood of a relapse. Guardian’s study found organizations with the most comprehensive RTW programs appear to achieve greater success reducing lost time and improving employee retention. 


Flexibility and Personalization Go a Long Way 

Today’s technology makes it easy to communicate and inform a company’s workforce through various channels. So, it’s not surprising our study reveals that the accessibility of information has a great influence on employees when they are on leave. Every employee has a preference of how they’d like to communicate with their employer about leave, and Guardian’s study finds the majority of employees prefer to have 24/7 access to personal and mobile communications.

Employers that leverage new technology, including automated dialers, text messaging and chats are leaders in the absence management space because they demonstrate a willingness to accommodate to an employee’s schedule and individual needs. In fact, Guardian’s study reveals 21% of Index leaders use automated dialing technology, compared with 9% that lag on program improvements. The same goes for interactive voice response systems – 16% of Index leaders leverage this technology, compared with only 7% of those that rank lower in the Index. 

At the end of the day, many employees want to work for a company they feel cares about their well-being and that will help them navigate the journey through their disability. The data collected from Guardian’s Absence Management Activity IndexSM and Study supports the notion that employers who prioritize these programs see positive results in employee satisfaction and overall retention.


Unless otherwise noted, the source of all information is from the 2019 Guardian Absence Management Activity Index℠ and Study – “The Value of Leave Management Integration.




Reversing Burnout Series: Design Your Daily Personal Time Off

by Peter Atherton, AE Growth and Impact Expert, Consultant, Speaker, Author of Reversing Burnout
The Win-Win: Life Balance for High Performing Workers,  Sustained Growth for Your Organization


Personal Time Off (PTO) s great; it’s a chance to get away, to disconnect from work, and even have some rest and relaxation. Taken routinely, PTO is an effective strategy to reduce work stress, but it will not cure or help you avoid burnout by itself.  For that, we need to design ourselves a more frequent form of PTO, a daily “Personal Time-Out”.

Creating and maintaining “margin” in our day, and using it strategically, is the only way to effectively reverse and avoid burnout and live the full life we desire.  This is especially true for those of us who are high-achievers and often consumed by the demands of work and life.


Mastering Our Time

Busyness is both pervasive and invasive.  Allowed to persist, busyness chokes out and overruns much of what we desire in life.   If we want to master our lives, we need to resolve our busyness.  The first step is to take ownership and regain control of our time.  When we control our time, we can control our destiny.

Taking Control

For many, it might require we say “no” to things that we typically say yes to, and taking control when we can’t anticipate the outcome.  It means we may have to “defend” the need for some “me” time. At one point we may have known what we wanted out of work and life, but have since lost touch, track, and clarity.  Even if we have “checked the boxes” of the goals that previously drove us, most high-achievers reach a point where we can feel disconnected, discontented, frustrated, and even resentful – especially if we are in or headed toward the burnout-disengagement cycle.

Values and Urgency

As I explain in my book, Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners, many of us have invested so much in our careers that it has become our identity.   As we progress in life this becomes even more problematic as the gaps between “what we do”, “who we are”, and our life purpose drives discontent.  These gaps also impact our ability to lead and inspire others.  If we want to truly succeed, we also need a renewed sense of urgency about our time.

We never stop getting older.  The fact is, our days are numbered on this earth and we have no real control of when our time will be up.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and this should be our motivation to take action beginning today!  Time is our greatest asset in terms of achieving our goals and realizing our impact, but we can’t take it for granted.  We know that we don’t want to miss out any longer and that we may need a course correction.  But here’s the reality: We will never discover the things we value most and begin to track toward the full life we desire and our greater purpose until we slow down.  

Margin

Creating and maintaining margin is an essential component to slowing down and being able to master our time.  “Margin” is quiet time and personal “white space,” away from devices and distractions.   To be effective, margin time needs to be sufficient in length and consistent in frequency. The target for most of us should be 30 to 60 minutes per day at least 5 days per week.  Margin is not just about time to rest and relax, its foundational to the R&R 2.0 process.   


R&R 2.0

PTO and the “rest and relaxation” of our past can help us address some of the demands and stresses of work and life, but it needs to be updated and expanded if we are going to take on burnout and position us to win over the long-term. Rest and relaxation alone only address being physically or emotionally exhausted as a result of a temporary season or event.  On the other hand, burnout is a chronic condition that layers frustration and loss, and even resentment and despair, on top of physical and emotional exhaustion.   Reversing and avoiding burnout requires a deeper, more strategic, and more consistent approach.   

Once established, margin is the daily “Personal Time-Out” we need to begin to restore ourselves if we have been feeling burned-out, disengaged, and feeling like we are missing out.  This time to routinely decompress, rest, pray, meditate, listen, think, contemplate, read, journal, and reflect allows for clarity and positions us for Restoration.  Once restored, this time is then repurposed for the next elements of the process which include RediscoveryRetargeting, and Revitalization toward the life we desire.  

 


This article originally appeared on ActionsProve

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Reversing Burnout Series :: Why Sabbaticals Work

by Peter Atherton, AE Growth and Impact Expert, Consultant, Speaker, Author of Reversing Burnout
The Win-Win: Life Balance for High Performing Workers,  Sustained Growth for Your Organization


A well-designed and implemented sabbatical program is a simple and effective way to combat the growing epidemic of burnout and disengagement in today’s workplace and ensures your organization’s success over the long-term.  At least, right now, it can position you and your organization to be different, better and more attractive in the job marketplace.

 


Below are Key Benefits of an Effective Sabbatical Program:

  1. Planned Refresh Cycles

    Top organizations realize that achieving professionals are human too, and more than ever, they need routine refresh cycles… and likely need them every 5 to 7 years! These routine refreshes are needed to push off the inevitable peaking and declining phases.  They are also needed to combat the ill effects of the all-consuming lifestyle of today’s working class.

    A well-timed refresh will allow an employee to RestoreRediscoverRetarget, and Revitalize aspects of their personal and professional lives, and help them reverse and avoid the Burnout-Disengagement Cycle. Even for those who are consistent with taking their paid time off, nothing beats a well designed sabbatical; it provides the time and space for employees to take their personal and professional growth to a whole new level. A sabbatical can be up to a  four-month period of time away.  This planned time away helps to increase overall awareness and emotional intelligence… both of which improve one’s ability to connect and relate to others and their performance as employees, leaders, and client-servers upon their return to work.

    As a result, employees are able to focus on aspects of their lives that may have gone neglected.  Providing space for awareness, sabbaticals open up opportunity for employees to gain perspective as well as much needed appreciation for the lives they live and their work’s purpose. For those that take the time, it ultimately provides a gateway for living a full life with less regrets and discontent.  

    A routine sabbatical is even more critical for those who are, and have been, less diligent with either form of “PTO”.  This is where a caring and strategic leadership team can make a real difference for its top talent and for its organization.  And, while top talent is refreshing, top organizations have the opportunity to benefit, especially in the areas of resilience testing, succession planning, and internal development – areas that are often overlooked, postponed, or abandoned in our busyness.  

  2. Healthy Resilience Testing and Effective Succession Planning
    Taking a class is great, but taking one online on your employee’s own time can be even more appealing (and more realistic) for many. There are a number of free or cost-effective courses available through services like Lynda/LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, as well as “massive open online courses” (MOOCs), that you can encourage employees to check out. To expand the knowledge to the entire team, implement a “lunch and learn” where attendees share with others.
  3. Designed Teamwork and Talent Development
    Check out this link of professional associations to find something that will apply to your business. Whether it’s a national agency or local group, there are often a wide variety of development opportunities available with membership fees. There are networking events, speaker forums, and conferences. As a member, your employees get special access to proprietary events and educational materials.
  4. Differentiator in the Marketplace
    Don’t let your employees become bored on the job. Find out what skills they might want to hone and search for opportunities to let them practice them. Whether it’s on a company-wide task force or by doing an inter-departmental rotation, it will keep your employees engaged with a new challenge. Ultimately, it allows your company to operate more smoothly as your team better understands various roles.


Take Action Now + Win Top Talent

Don’t be left in the dust! The benefits of an effective sabbatical program, especially in professional service organizations, are so clear that it is just a matter of time before your competitors develop one as an essential strategy to attract, engage, develop, and retain top talent. If you don’t want your organization to fall behind, create a plan for a sabbatical program now.  An effective program can be one aspect of an organization’s overall performance management and employee engagement and development strategy.  One method that can be particularly effective in developing and refining this overall strategy is the I.M.P.A.C.T. Process. Designing systems for your best talent to be their best-selves will position your organization to be its best-self… and will position you to win in both the marketplace and the “talent war”.


This article originally appeared on ActionsProve

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Trends in Disability Insurance Claims Management

Originally posted by Ian Bridgman at The Claim Lab April 30, 2019

Last month we started a series of newsletters (February) to introduce the concept of data enrichment of claims information and we discussed how this will help us to understand what’s really preventing return to work for complex claims.

Maybe for those short term disability plans of 3 to 6 months, the duration is driven by diagnosis. In the healthcare industry, recovery is measured over a 6 month period. So by its very nature a claim that has gone on longer than 6 months has complications…

We have been told for many years in the claims world that we should not over medicalize claims, yet when claim managers get stuck, they order an IME!

We know that the likelihood is that there is something else going on: work issues, poor motivation, anxiety, depression, domestic issues, medication dependence, etc. on top of the primary diagnosis.

These are the psychosocial factors, that after the first few months of a claim, should really be driving our claim management process.

An experienced claim manager could, probably after 7 mins on the phone, start to dig into some of these issues, BUT we don’t have many experienced claim managers any more, and if we do, their case loads are too high, and new claim managers are lacking the required skills.

Just imagine for a moment, that we had developed a way of understanding these psychosocial influencers without the need for an experienced claim manager!

Click here to read the full post at The Claim Lab


The Claim Lab is an organization that has been conceived to help Disability and Worker’s Compensation Insurance companies improve claims outcomes using innovative techniques.  Learn more at www.claimlab.org.




Celebrating the Modern Dad: Transitions and Wellbeing for Today’s Family



The presence of a loving father greatly increases a child’s chances of success, confidence, resilience, physical and mental well-being.

Family Dynamics of the Past

Not too long ago, society deemed dads incapable of caring for their children.  At least that’s what the television ads would portray. Picture this: a bumbling dad burning dinner and twisting the baby’s diaper in a knot, only to be saved by dear old mom.  At the time, fathers were simply the breadwinners, and had no business in the kitchen or caring for the children.

But that was then.  

The historically significant shifts in technology, alongside the evolution of gender roles, over the past 70 years, both at home and in the workplace, have changed that.  Now, dads are just as likely as moms to say that parenting is important to their identity.  According to Pew Research, it is now less common for dads to be the sole breadwinner of the family.  In 1970, 47 percent of families were supported by the working dad alone. Today, that number has dropped to 27 percent.  Most two-parent families with kids have both parents working in some capacity.  Along the way, society has done away with stereotypes about what fathers do. 

If there is a strong evidence to prove the importance that fathers be around and be involved, then they now have a stronger argument to be home.” 
– Paul Raeburn.

The Modern Dad: Fathers as Caregivers

The modern-day father comes in various forms. Today’s father is no longer always the traditional married breadwinner and disciplinarian in the family. He can be single or married; externally employed or stay-at-home; gay or straight; an adoptive or step-parent; and a more than capable caregiver. More fathers are actually making the conscious choice to stay home to raise their children.  According to Pew Center, in 2016, 24% of stay-at-home dads reported that this was the main reason they were at home, up from just 4% in 1989.

As more and more dad’s take on the caregiver role, new studies are being conducted on the science of fatherhood that investigates the role of fathers in their children’s and families’ lives.  According to author, Paul Raeburn,  “Fathers who play with their kids have children who have fewer behavioral problems in their school years, adjust better to their transition to school from toddlerhood, and have less likelihood to be involved in delinquency or criminal behaviors as teenagers and even more as adults. This has a lifelong effect on children and it’s really only in the last few years that this has begun to be recognized.”  

The NEW American Family and the Need for Comparable Paid Family Leave Laws, Disability Insurance

As dad’s role in the family dynamic becomes more equalized with that of what the stay at home mom’s role used to be, the need for paid leave programs for all workers has come into the public and political conversation. Today, only a few states have laws requiring paid leave for various circumstances. And while many companies have their own, more generous policies, the benefit is not as widespread as you might imagine: The National Partnership for Women and Families, a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group, estimates that only 17 percent of workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers.

To help working mothers, paid parental leave – for moms and dads — may be the next frontier. Employers and governments are now talking a lot more about giving fathers a break so they can be the dads they want to be – and so the daily work-parenting load will be more equally distributed. In fact, the Trump administration has reportedly drafted a budget that would require states to offer six weeks of paid parental leave. So far, there are no signs of any progress on the plan, mostly because there are no specifics about how to implement it yet, but the fact that such a priority is even on the budget at a time of massive spending cuts is good news. 

Whether or not your state or company offers ample paid leave, disability insurance (or, as we like to call it, “income insurance”) is another benefit more employers are considering as additions to their benefits packages, and one more families should consider during their company’s open enrollment. Although fewer than 40 percent have access to personal medical leave through short-term disability insurance that is provided by their employer, most workplaces offer you the option of purchasing more. It’s a decision that can save a family’s finances should the unexpected happen.

Proactive Steps Dad Can Take for Longterm Health and Wellbeing

Outside of benefits and income protection, and as primary caregivers, it is important for men, like their female counterparts, to take a proactive approach to healthcare, something most men historically do not do. According to a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, men are notoriously bad patients. Compared with women, they avoid going to the doctor, skip more recommended screenings and practice riskier behavior. They also die about five years sooner, live with more years of bad health and have higher suicide rates. Now, with the growing recognition that treating preventable causes of death and disability could close the medical gender gap, the health-care industry is mounting a new push to get men the care they need.  

The first step is prevention. As we know heart disease the number one cause of illness and death for the American man.  Families can help the dads in their lives think about their own health and lifestyle choices and ensure they are taking the right steps to look after themselves.  The Centers for Disease Control, offers families a simple guide to help the men in their life get and stay on track with their health.  Here are some tips: 

  1. Gather for the Family Meal.
    While you are at it, have dad eat his fruits and vegetables every day.

  2. Get active!
    This Father’s Day, find fun ways to exercise together. Regular physical activity has many benefits. It can help dad control his weight, reduce his risk of heart disease and some cancers, and can improve overall mental health and mood.
  3. Don’t Forget to Breathe.
    Help the men in your life recognize and reduce stress.
  4. Schedule the Check Up.
    Men can prepare for doctor’s visits. Certain diseases and conditions may not have symptoms, so checkups help identify issues early or before they can become a problem.
  5. Know the Signs of a Heart Attack:
    • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
    • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint
    • Chest pain or discomfort
    • Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder
    • Shortness of breath
  1. Know the Signs of Depression: They include persistent sadness, grumpiness, feelings of hopelessness, tiredness and decreased energy, and thoughts of suicide.

A father’s influence has changed over the years. For example, today there are more stay-at-home dads by choice and those that are able to take paid leave for a new baby.  This has created a cultural shift placing a father at the core of caregiving. As a result, it is having long term positive effects. As the number of dads who are in the caregiver role increases, it is ever more important they take advantage of employer paid leave benefits, and at the same time, take proactive steps to maintain optimal health… not just for their own good, but the good of their families (and society in general).  

Happy Father’s Day!




How to Create a Culture of Learning at Your Workplace

How to Create a Culture of Learning at Your Workplace

More than ever, today’s employees crave professional growth. In fact, the members of the graduating class of 2019 rank it as a top priority in deciding whether they will accept a job. Creating a culture of learning can help keep employees satisfied even once they’re hired. An O.C. Tanner Report revealed that when millennials jump ship, it’s most often because they feel underutilized and stagnant at work. While professional development is of great benefit to your employees, it might be the perk that offers you the biggest bang for your buck. This is because it also benefits your organization through the new skills team members acquire. The great news is that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Below we provide some tips to help you add low-cost but effective training to your benefits menu:

  • Help Create Individual Plans
    The best way to show employees that their professional growth is important to your company is to talk to them about what they need or want. Someone aiming to do more client-focused work might need pointers on how to lead effective sales presentations. An accounting professional might want to learn more about new technological advances that can streamline their workflow. Finding out what’s important to each of your team members and communicating ways to access that training ensures that the subsequent professional development you offer aligns with their needs and interests.
  • Look Into Online Training
    Taking a class is great, but taking one online on your employee’s own time can be even more appealing (and more realistic) for many. There are a number of free or cost-effective courses available through services like Lynda/LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, as well as “massive open online courses” (MOOCs), that you can encourage employees to check out. To expand the knowledge to the entire team, implement a “lunch and learn” where attendees share with others.
  • Pay for Membership in Professional Associations
    Check out this link of professional associations to find something that will apply to your business. Whether it’s a national agency or local group, there are often a wide variety of development opportunities available with membership fees. There are networking events, speaker forums, and conferences. As a member, your employees get special access to proprietary events and educational materials.
  • Offer Cross-Training
    Don’t let your employees become bored on the job. Find out what skills they might want to hone and search for opportunities to let them practice them. Whether it’s on a company-wide task force or by doing an inter-departmental rotation, it will keep your employees engaged with a new challenge. Ultimately, it allows your company to operate more smoothly as your team better understands various roles.
  • Try a Reverse Mentoring Program
    Most companies are familiar with traditional mentoring programs. Arranging a “reverse” mentoring program creates a new and useful spin on the relationship between a new or younger hire with one that is seasoned. The win-win really happens! Newer employees will increase their institutional knowledge and proficiencies. Older generations can keep their skills current in a rapidly changing work world, as “digital natives” help them navigate project management software or various apps that can streamline their workflow.

  • Promote Individual Learning
    Every employee should value keeping their skills and industry knowledge relevant. In fact, you could encourage or incentivize team members to choose pertinent podcast series or books. You could then have them share what they’ve learned with the team. To underscore your support of these activities, consider offering a few hours a month that employees can devote to professional development on company time.

  • Follow Through
    Finally, ensure that employees are making the most of any learning opportunities by following up to find out what they learned that can be valuable for others. For example, a conference they might attend could be beneficial to another employee the following year. Perhaps they found an online training course that was especially helpful. Finding out what individual employees learned from various opportunities allows you to build a library of resources that can benefit future employees, not just the current ones.


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Seven Ways Employers Can Create Flexible Work Options

Competition for Talent Informs Trend in Flexibility as Benefit Option

HR departments know all too well the fierce competition for top talent being waged today. And as you develop appealing compensation offers and benefits packages, there is one peak benefit that employees are clamoring for—and that’s flexibility. If you are still clinging to a fixed work schedule, you may soon be left behind; in fact one survey finds this is the top work benefit employers are expecting to add in 2019, and many workers won’t hesitate to move to another company with a more attractive benefit offering.

However, even if you want to add flexibility, there is the issue that not every workplace seems cut out for it. After all, you still have clients to deal with, and work that must be completed. The good news is that it’s possible to offer flexibility without throwing schedules out the window. Here are seven ways that you could consider adding a modicum of flexibility to almost any workplace.

  1. Determine the Hours that People MUST Be There, and Work Around That
    Maybe you are in the Eastern time zone and primarily deal with West coast clients that could necessitate a longer day. Consider letting your staff come in a bit later on at least some mornings.  Another option would be to rotate the team member who stays late to cover the West coast hours. The goal? To be available to successfully manage client issues without requiring the entire team to work all the hours.
  2. Identify Work That Can Be Done from Home
    Even in a call center where employees are literally working the phones, see if there is some element of their work that they could do on their own time or at the location of choice, such as typing up reports or doing other paperwork. Employees who feel that you are keeping these types of opportunities in mind will be grateful when they are presented, even if they understand that the majority of their work must be completed on site.
  3. Let Employees Take Care of Personal Needs
    Don’t make employees feel they have to hide the fact that they’re making a doctor’s appointment or shopping for a birthday present online during a lull. Just remember chances are they are answering work-related emails on their own time, too. The lines of work and leisure time continue to blend, and your team needs to know that you understand and respect that reality.
  4. Allow Employees to Trade Shifts With Each Other
    If you work in an industry like retail or food service where employees work varying schedules, don’t make it onerous for them to trade shifts. Find an app that lets them do it themselves or create another system that allows them to trade or give away shifts. While you’re at it, talk to your employees about how they feel about the shifts they have. If you always give a Friday night shift to the same person, make sure that they are ok with it or set up a rotation. While seniority should count for something, you still want to make sure that all your employees believe the system is fair.
  5. Ask Employees What They Need
    Often employees will be reluctant to speak up because they don’t want to seem as though they are complaining. Yet there might be some aspect of their hours that are challenging and could easily be changed. For example, a team meeting first thing in the morning can be hard for a parent. If it’s all the same to you, you could move the meeting to 10 a.m., or let them dial in from home. If it would accomplish the same goal, you could also cancel the meeting altogether and have people share their updates via email or a project management software.

    You might also find that a devoted employee would work an extra hour or two after he has put his kids to bed if it allows him to leave early to see a soccer game or oversee homework time. Someone else who is a caregiver might happily cover early shifts that no one else wants in exchange for one afternoon a week off. The key is to ask your team what they need or want; let them know that you can’t always accommodate them, but you’re willing to try.

  6. Set Up Processes to Track Remote Work
    Even if your staff is trustworthy, it can be a big leap to just let employees work from home on the honor system. It’s perfectly reasonable to set up expectations that a telecommuter has to be available at a certain time, or that employees must log into the work system so that you can track their hours. Keeping the controls a little tighter when you start offers the chance to eventually loosen them if things go well. Remember, it feels much more punitive to go the other way so err on the side of caution as you explore these new freedoms.

  7. Focus on Output Rather Than “Face Time”
    The key to making it all work: Does it really matter where your team is doing their work as long as they are doing it? In some types of organizations, of course it does. But in others, the focus could shift from when and where the goals were accomplished to just the fact that they were.

 


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How to Reduce Employee Financial Stress for a Healthier Workforce… and Bottom Line

 

This content was provided by the Council for Disability Awareness Member Lincoln Financial Group®

 

Employee financial wellness is a hot topic today, and for good reason. A recent survey shows that employees spend five to 13 hours per month worrying about their personal finances while at work.  Without the necessary support, employees are more stressed, and thus more distracted. For employers, this translates into a nearly $250 billion loss in healthcare, productivity, and lost wages every year.1

Some studies show that financial stress, especially in the workplace, is at its highest level in five years.2 And, while every employee’s situation is different, many face the same financial stresses – the most common monetary challenges facing employees typically include:

  • Heavy debt
  • Vanishing pensions
  • Retirement savings
  • High student loan debt
  • Increasing healthcare premiums
  • Out-of-pocket health expenses such as deductibles, copays, and coinsurance

How Employers Can Help Employees Reduce Financial Stress

With employees spending the majority of their day at their designated places of work, employers have an opportunity to incentivize change and offer solutions to this population.  Employers can help employees better manage their concerns with a mix of financial wellness programs and quality voluntary benefits.  Click here for tips to help employees learn about how to build financial literacy.

Financial Wellness Programs

Employee financial wellness programs can help employees find balance and control over their finances, now and throughout their lifetime. Gaining in popularity, these programs have become a key workplace trend in 2017.3 because they can meet the needs of employees by educating them on how to manage and overcome personal finance issues. Some of the more popular financial wellness programs include:

  • Debt management and reduction
  • Budgeting tools and resources
  • Investing and financial market basics
  • Asset management and saving for home purchase, college, retirement, and other goals.

Employers can approach financial wellness by engaging employees throughout their lives, with a focus on guiding employees towards action. One important objective is to help employees reach their goals for every stage of their financial lives, whether it’s saving for a house, a car, college, or retirement. The key takeaway for these types of programs is to select the right financial wellness program that addresses the specific needs of employees in your business and offer them the resources they find valuable.

Organizations have every reason to want their employees to be financially sound. An effectively designed employee financial wellness program can help employers:

  • Bolster productivity, because employees aren’t distracted by financial worries.
  • Drive more predictable workforce flow throughout the organization.
  • Result in improved physical health (people with high levels of financial stress are more prone to sickness).
  • Increase employee engagement and retention.
  • Create more affordable retirement opportunities for all employees and enable career advancement opportunities for younger employees.

Having a clear understanding of the business benefits of financial wellness, integrated within the overall wellness and HR talent/acquisition strategy ensures corporate commitment and is key to a successful financial wellness program.

Voluntary Benefits

As an employer, you understand how employee well-being impacts the workplace on many levels,  and will want to ensure it is not affected by financial stress. Not every employee understands the many benefit options that are available to them. Therefore, it is worth investigating ways to help them really understand the benefits your company can offer to ensure they are equipped with the financial knowledge they need.

A thoughtful mix of voluntary benefits can help employees better manage unexpected medical costs associated with a critical illness or accident. That is to say, voluntary benefits plans are easy to implement and cost-effective for employers as the employee typically selects the plan, and pays the premium. Three of the most popular voluntary benefit product offerings are:

  • Accident
    Provides a lump-sum for a wide range of covered accidental injuries from simple fractures to third-degree burns
  • Critical Illness
    Provides a lump-sum benefit if an employee is diagnosed with a covered critical illness
  • Hospital Indemnity
    Provides a lump-sum when a covered illness or injury results in hospitalization


Voluntary benefits offer key advantages:

  • Most policies are portable
  • No copays, deductible, or coinsurance
  • Benefits paid directly to the employee
  • Employer group rates are generally lower than an employee can purchase separately.

Employers can provide employees with special financing vehicles that may have tax advantages, including: health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) using pre-tax dollars to pay eligible healthcare expenses, dependent care FSAs for eligible dependent care services, and a health savings account to help employees pay expenses in a high-deductible health plan.  Your voluntary benefit options send the message to your employees that you’re listening to their concerns and priorities. Get it right, and your benefits dollars will be well spent and will pay off in terms of employee satisfaction and retention. In fact, Sixty-two percent of Millennial and 50 percent of Gen X employees say that their loyalty to their company is influenced by how much the company cares about their financial well-being.2 Employers that implement an employee financial wellness strategy and clearly communicate available benefits resources can make a positive impact in the workplace: for employees, and for the company… a win/win.


Sources

[1] Mercer Survey. “Inside Employees’ Minds – Financial Wellness, Volume 2.” 2017. Retrieved from https://www.mercer.com/newsroom/financial-stress-could-cost-us-employers-up-to-250-billion-in-lost-wages-annually-finds-new-mercer-survey.html

[2] PwC. Employee Financial Wellness Survey. 2017. Retrieved from https://www.pwc.com/us/en/ private-company-services/publications/financial- well-being-retirement-survey.html

[3] S Miller. Is 2017 the Year of Employee Financial Wellness Programs? Society for Human Resource Management. Jan. 17, 2017. Retrieved from:
https:// www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/financial-wellness-trend.aspx

 




The Value of Disability Insurance as Income Security


By Gene Lanzoni, Marketing, Thought Leadership, Customer Insights 
The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America


The ability to earn an income is essential to modern living, yet more Americans often prioritize protecting their home, car, health, and teeth over helping protect their income with insurance. When a life event that causes a disability occurs, even in the short-term, it can disrupt an employee’s financial security, especially if they are unprepared for a work absence.  In fact, according to the American Council on Life Insurers, over 50 million Americans are without disability insurance.  Here’s why it matters:

Even a short unemployed break can cause financial instability. Given that more than half of working Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, most cannot go without one for a single pay period, let alone three or more months. Let’s put this in perspective – working adults have about $5,000 in emergency savings, which disappears quickly considering the U.S. median monthly cost for housing, food, and transportation is roughly $3,000.[1] Those who’ve had a disability leave report emergency savings of just $2,500.[2]

We recently released our latest set of findings from Guardian’s 6th Annual Workplace Benefits Study for a financial wellness report titled Income Protection: The Role of Disability Insurance in Financial Wellness,” which finds only 54% of working Americans have disability insurance. The report validates that there are still a lot of misconceptions around the value of disability insurance. For example, many adults believe the product is for people who suffer from disabilities that are catastrophic or that it’s for disabilities which happen at work and covered by workers compensation. This is where education plays a critical role in helping employees understand that disability insurance serves as income replacement should you be out of work for an extended period of time.

While a competitive salary is important, especially in today’s low unemployment job market,  candidates will also be pushing for the best options in benefits. For employers, including disability insurance as part of your overall employee benefits offering can demonstrate that you care about your workforce’s financial security and wellness. Disability insurance has benefits everyone, regardless of age, gender or profession, should consider:

  • Income Protection
    While living paycheck-to-paycheck, workers don’t save for emergencies, such as an unexpected, unpaid leave of absence or disability. Emergency savings go fast when they have to cover pay regular monthly expenses on top of medical bills. Guardians’ study found 49% of those surveyed that did not have disability insurance withdrew from savings, investments or retirement plans to pay for their injury. Disability insurance provides an extra layer of income protection, which can make it easier to take care of financial responsibilities and not have to leverage other financial sources

  • Understanding Disability Insurance

    Guardian found only one in 25 consumers exhibit a high level of disability insurance knowledge. Today’s disability insurance programs now offer a variety of features to help employees navigate and understand their benefits. Some of those features include online enrollment payroll deduction and no medical exam to enroll. Even if certain employers can’t offer employer-sponsored disability insurance, they can provide access via an employee-funded disability insurance product. That shows flexibility and commitment to employees’ long-term financial health and well-being.
     

  • Improved Worker Satisfaction

    Guardian’s study indicates offering disability insurance can enhance overall work satisfaction (71% vs. 54%), as employees feel their company truly cares about them. Companies that offer return-to-work programs see an extra boost in satisfaction, as 70% feel their employer cares for them after completing a program.

  • Integrated Absence Management

    Absences can be hard on both an employee and an employer. Integrating an absence management program with disability insurance can help employers navigate the ever-changing paid leave laws that vary by state. Consultants and benefits carriers can work together to deliver a holistic, integrated plan that will keep employers covered and deliver a seamless employee experience.  With all these benefits available, employers and employees should re-evaluate the way they think about disability insurance plans. Signing up for disability insurance is really a way for individuals to help protect their incomes.

Disability insurance offers protection and satisfaction to both employers and employees, making it one of the most valuable products in a benefits portfolio. Nobody can predict the future, but it’s always wise to prepare for the unexpected. For more details on the financial wellness paper,click here.


The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY. Unless otherwise noted, the source of all information is Guardian’s 6th Annual Workplace Benefits Study, report titled: “Income Protection: The Role of Disability Insurance in Financial Wellness (2019).

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[1] 20 Something Finance, (2019) “The Shocking Percentage of Americans that Live Paycheck-to-Paycheck.”

[2] Guardian’s 6th Annual Workplace Benefits Study, Financial Wellness Series, Part 2,“Income Protection: The Role of Disability Insurance in Financial Wellness,” (2019) p. 10.