Worksite Report Card

The State Of Employee Health And Talent Management Today

Companies’ report cards on absence and disability management practices reveal below-average grades

New research from The Standard highlights opportunities for employers to retain talent in a competitive job market

March 11, 2019 — PORTLAND, Ore.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sixty percent of employers earned a grade of C, D or F for their efforts to manage employee absence and disability in the workplace, according to the new Absence and Disability Readiness Index created by Standard Insurance Company (The Standard). The Standard’s findings — which assign a letter grade to employers’ practices and confidence in managing employee absence and disability — expose key gaps in how today’s employers are approaching employee health and talent management.

Overall, employers earned a grade of B- because their confidence managing employee absence and disability is higher than actual practices. While employers have basic practices in place and are confident in their abilities to help employees, The Standard found there are big gaps in their approach and few industry leaders. Only 25 percent of HR decision-makers report their programs are very successful. Midsized companies are particularly at risk, with lower reports of successful programs.

The Retention Equation

“The impact of poor disability management could be damaging for organizations seeking to retain high-quality employees in a competitive job market,” said Dan McMillan, vice president of employee benefits at The Standard. “Poor absence and disability programs can lead to lost employee productivity, a greater need for robust recruitment efforts and legal complications due to mismanaging accommodations requests — all of which prevent employers from carrying out their vision.”

The Readiness Index results show employers are experiencing challenges in three key areas:

  • Program measurement — Only 31 percent of employers benchmark their absence management programs, and only 33 percent benchmark their disability programs.
  • Legal compliance — 61 percent of employers say that constantly changing disability laws and guidelines make it difficult to properly support employees.
  • Accommodations support — More than half of organizations don’t have formal processes in place for return-to-work and stay-at-work programs.
Our findings show that employers with comprehensive disability programs are seeing profound benefits in terms of employee retention and overall productivity...

The Standard, however, found that employers who have formal disability management programs in place reported greater success in boosting employee engagement and controlling costs. Among employers with formal programs, 32 percent reported lower absenteeism and 37 percent reported better employee retention. Ninety-two percent said that disability programs help control costs and reduce exposure to risk.

Return To Work /Stay At Work

“Our findings show that employers with comprehensive disability programs are seeing profound benefits in terms of employee retention and overall productivity,” said McMillan. “Introducing a disability approach that includes return-to-work and stay-at-work support is essential for employers who want to ensure the health and well-being of their workforce — both of which are crucial for employers who want to face today’s talent challenges head on.”

For additional insights into employers’ challenges around managing employee absence and disability, view our infographic or download the full report.




About the Absence and Disability Readiness Index
All insights are from an online survey of 501 participants conducted by Versta for The Standard in April 2018.
About The Standard
The Standard is a marketing name for StanCorp Financial Group, Inc. and subsidiaries. Insurance products are offered by Standard Insurance Company of Portland, Oregon in all states except New York. Product features and availability vary by state and are solely the responsibility of Standard Insurance Company.
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