A comprehensive Disability Management Program (DMP) provides employers with human resource and risk abatement strategies to prevent lost time and assist injured or ill employees to return to work as soon as possible. The DMP consists of specific methods and materials (components) that are applied to shape a timely and satisfactory return to work. The DMP integrates benefits both the employer and employee value by reducing absenteeism, maintaining productivity, and transitioning experienced, trained employees to work reasonably, quickly, and practically.
Essential to the DMP process is integration of aggressive prevention and early intervention initiatives, such as Health and Wellness Initiatives, Employee Assistance Programs, and Conflict Resolution Strategies. These programs are a direct message to loyal and experienced employees that they are valued in the organization, and once hired and productive, they will be maintained.
The core concept on which the DMP is planned and operated is that there is critical distinction between the terms “impairment” and “disability.” Although physicians diagnose and treat impairment, only employers interacting with employees can determine disability based on essential job functions and workplace accommodations.
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Essentially all of the best-managed companies in the country have DMPs. The reason is that a DMP is the only way employers have to control their dramatically rising Workers' Compensation Costs. Employers who have not recently looked at their workers' compensation and other disability costs may have a shock coming.
Studies by a number of entities --employers and insurance carriers-- show costs associated with workplace disability to be an average of 8% of payroll. This is a significant amount of money regardless of the size of the payroll.
In addition to controlling WC costs, DMPs are used to:
- Control outlays for medical treatment of non-occupational accidents and illnesses
- Control associated lost-wage payments for accidents/illnesses
- Upgrade the hiring process for the purpose of identifying better employees
- Demonstrate to employees that they are valued by management
- In short, DMPs are a critical bottom-line issue, and they require the attention of any employer interested in the best possible management of his/her organization.
The Disability Management Needs Assessment: A Practical Tool for Employers (No Cost)
All employers deal with the "disabilities" of their employees to one extent or another. Ostensibly, some companies have developed more comprehensive, and more effective, programs to deal with these matters. The common wisdom in business administration is that all "well managed" companies have DMPs which operate as an essential aspect of interest in cost containment and valuing employees.
The purpose here is to offer employers a generic tool to assess their DMPs. Ultimately, the definitive needs assessment must be customized to meet individual company interests and operational policies. Therefore, companies may modify this generic needs assessment to accommodate their unique situations.
The Assessment is offered to employers at no cost and may be printed at will. Companies that do not feel that they presently have the resources available to carry out a needs assessment given these guidelines, or who want more details, may contact CEC Associates, Inc. for assistance. email@example.com
Questions to be Addressed in a DMP Needs Assessment
What level of support from senior management is needed for a DMP? Is the commitment documented? Does the commitment include a general management policy of returning employees to work after an illness or injury (as opposed to outsourcing)? Is budget support available for at least some level of development? Has responsibility to perform the assessment been assigned? Do the individuals assigned the responsibility to operate a DMP have the training and skills to do so?
Is there a procedure in place to collect data on absenteeism (cause, duration, type of impairment, lost time, etc.) and ascribable disability-related costs? Are these records accumulated in a data base for meaningful analysis?
Does the company have a comprehensive set of Job Descriptions geared more to the "essential functions" and based on Job Analysis methods as required by the ADA? Are staff members trained in executing job analysis, including physical measurements for all tasks, assigned to a specific job? What are the minimum educational-level requirements for each job and how are they determined? What environmental factors impact each job?
Is there a Safety and Wellness program in place? Has consideration been given to formalizing and documenting risk management strategies?
Does the company have a return-to-work program? If yes, is the RTW program developed as "transitional?" (A transitional return-to-work program is one that is carefully developed to re-introduce the employee to productivity through incremental steps.)
Are there provisions for the company to have Work Performance Evaluations and/or Functional Capacities completed for individual employees by qualified professionals?
Disability Management Programs are a critical bottom-line issue, and they require the attention of any employer interested in the best possible management of his/her organization.
Our knowledgeable staff is on hand to assist you.
A number of well-managed companies have implemented a policy of returning to work employees who have been injured. This commitment to "return to work" stands in direct opposition to the traditional process of outsourcing employees who were injured.
Over the past several years, comparative studies of these distinctively different approaches to workplace injuries have shown that a Return-To-Work (RTW) program is by far more effective for employers than traditional outsourcing. In fact. A Return-to-Work program in a medium size company reduces lost-time indemnities by 20-40%. In addition to these significant cost-of-doing-business savings, RTW programs:
Provide an opportunity for the employee to be productive while he/she is recovering
Accelerate reintegration into the workforce and help the employee feel positive about his/her life
Preclude employers from becoming "disability hostages."
To assist employers who are not presently sponsoring a Transition-to-Work program in their work organizations, CEC Associates, Inc., offers a comprehensive set of materials that:
Guide the development of this kind of program and actually
Provide the forms that are used to create and operate the program.
To create and operate a DMP, employers will need to understand, at minimum, the following aspects of disability management in the workplace. With a working knowledge of these individual components of the process, employers can plan and implement a DMP, or review/evaluate an existing program for comprehensiveness.
Copies of the content for each of these DISABILITY MANAGEMENT modules are available from CEC Associates, Inc. These how-to materials are designed to guide in detail the development of a DMP. The cost of each module is $5 or $60 for all 13 modules. To receive a copy, e-mail Dina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Selling Management on the Benefits of a DMP
Creating and Empowering a DMP Team
Designing and Activating a Data Collection Process
Creating and Operating a Transition-to-Work Program
Understanding the Principles of Learned Helplessness/Learned Optimism as the Psychological Basis for Return to Work
Understanding the Role of the Vocational Evaluation and the Functional Capacity Evaluation
Using Vocational Testing In Return-To-Work Decisions
Creating a Medical Care Plan to Guide the Injured Worker through the Treatment Process
Implementing Medical Care Coordination for Cost Containment
Initiating the Case Management Process as an Essential Return-to-Work Strategy
Creating Job Descriptions Based on "Essential Functions" as Determined by Job Analysis
Developing Safety and Wellness Programs
Training Staff in Managerial Mediation Methods
Understanding Managerial Mediation and Its Significance in Preventing Workplace Accidents
"Unmanaged employee conflict is arguably the largest reducible cost in organizations today. It is estimated that over 65% of work performance problems result from strained relationships between employees --not from deficits in an individual employee's skills or motivation."
These observations from Dr. Dan Dana, whose Mediation Training Institute (now affiliated with the Center for Conflict Dynamics at Eckerd College) has been recognized as the world's foremost source of Managerial Mediation training and certification, state succinctly the scope of a problem that faces all employers. Resolving disputes in the workplace before they become critical is the single most effective way open to employers to control their medical and lost-time costs.
Many employers have recognized the value of training their managers and supervisors in managerial mediation techniques. The federal government, under legislation such as the Family Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as an oversight agent, has also recognized the value of Alternate Dispute Resolution, and its oversight organizations such as the EEOC and the Department of Justice now require that disputants --generally employers and their employees-- engage in Mediation before litigation will be sanctioned.
All managers can be trained in the methods of Managerial Mediation. These methods have been documented in materials created by CEC Associates.
The creative job descriptions of the past are risky business for any employer who still relies on them.
Litigation in employment issues is based almost entirely on the "essential functions" of a job that were determined (and documented) prior to the critical moment in question in the suit. These essential functions are determined through Job Analysis and are a comprehensive record of the individual tasks an employee is asked to perform.
The job analysis considers the physical requirements of a job, the frequency and duration of each task, the environment in which the tasks are performed, the equipment used to complete the function, etc. The job analysis is conducted by individuals who have been trained in analyzing jobs in this controlled and structured manner.
Once a job has been described in detail in terms of the specific functions of that job, the list of those functions (the Job Description) becomes the basis for:
• An assessment of return-to-work capabilities when a worker is receiving medical treatment
• A record used to establish common ground between the employer and job applicants on exactly what is required of the job
• A record of agreement between the employer and incumbent employee of the specific job functions
• Job performance evaluations after time on the job
• Prima facia evidence in court cases