The Prudential Insurance Company of America (PRU), one of the world’s largest long term disability insurance companies, recently issued a press release regarding their return to work strategies. In my opinion, when Prudential or any long term disability insurance company discuss “return to work strategy”, this is tantamount to saying how quick can we stop paying a long term disability income claim. It’s no secret that Prudential can make a lot more money if less people are paid long term disability. No employer wants to see their employee miss work due to a disabling condition, but it is is scary when a long term disability company thinks they are qualified to make decisions about when a disabled person can return to work. Unfortunately, many long term disability insurance companies rely on computer programs to tell them how long a person should be out of work based upon a specific medical condition. Prudential and many other long term disability insurance carriers attended a national conference to discuss “effective return to work strategies”.
For more information about the meeting check out dmec.org.
Prudential’s August 26, 2010 Press Release states as follows:
NEWARK, N.J., Aug 26, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) – Kimberly Mashburn, vice president of Strategic Partnerships for Prudential’s Group Insurance business, a unit of Prudential discussed the critical role of managers and effective return to work strategies at the annual Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) conference, August 1- 4, 2010 in San Diego, Calif.
Workplace absence can be very expensive. Costs and consequences of absence can include direct costs like disability premiums, benefits paid to disabled employees, continuing employee benefits, and wages to replacement workers. Also, indirect costs like reduced productivity, increased overtime, increased supervisory time, increased stress & pressure, recruitment and training of replacement workers, increased medical costs, and administrative cost all add up. While many disability absences are out of a manager’s control, some may not be.
“Some disability absences are driven by subjective feelings about work, so managers should make sure they are building an environment that breeds commitment,” said Mashburn. During her August 1 workshop, she provided the following actionable steps that managers can take to enhance prompt return to work and boost productivity:
- Create a positive work environment that employees want to come back to;
- Prepare for planned absences by discussing how to cover the work with the employee going on leave;
- Keep personal and professional connections when employees are out of work;
- Plan for the return to work using all the options available at your company; and
- Monitor the return to work to help ensure additional absence is mitigated.
“New laws, escalating costs, fewer employees, and health and productivity issues are the challenges of the post-recession economy,” said Joe Wozniak, Certified Professional in Disability Management and Chief Financial Officer of DMEC. “This year’s conference allowed attendees to learn best practices and proven solutions that help employers return workers to productive employment from peers and thought leaders like Prudential.”