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4 keys to an effective absence & disability management solution

4 keys to an effective absence & disability management solution

June 12, 2020

Let’s say you’re a Benefits manager or HR leader responsible for tracking absences and managing a disability or occupational claims (WCB) program. If you identify with the problems below, it’s time you started to look for a better solution:

  • Too much time wasted on administration – e.g., filing out forms, manually updating spreadsheets, using interoffice snail mail to connect with stakeholders (employees, physicians, case managers, etc.).
  • Not enough actionable data – When you provide reports for the higher-ups but are asked for a deeper dive into the data, you don’t have it. For example: a demographic analysis on who’s absent, when and why.
  • Not enough time for strategic work – return-to-work (RTW) planning for employees on sick leave, analyzing absence patterns and how they’re changing over time, identifying hot spots for early intervention with at-risk employees, or even benchmarking against industry data.

If you have these problems, you’re not nearly alone. Today only 36% of Canadian organizations track absences, and of those that do, many rely on outdated solutions from the technology Stone Age: spreadsheets, paper forms, everything that makes life miserable for administrators and users alike.

The process of looking for and evaluating any new solution takes some time and investigating. Here are four key issues to keep top of mind:

  1. Software – there’s a reason Uber, Airbnb and other innovative companies are so successful: they leverage software and digital technologies to radically transform the service experience for program users and everyone behind the scenes, e.g., administrators. You really need to consider how today’s technologies like mobile apps, responsive design websites, and online dashboards can improve your situation.
  2. Capabilities – specifically, what should your new solution deliver?
    1. Ease of administration – delivered via digital portals and other time-saving and efficiency features that automate dozens of tasks and trigger actions within structured workflows. This will help to free up case managers to focus more on supporting people. You need to get rid of the paper (digital and print), manual spreadsheets and the lengthy to-do lists on the desks of case managers. 
    2. Better data management and reporting – generating reports in real time that provide people leaders and plan sponsors with, for example, access to up-to-the minute claims data. The goal is timely, easily accessible data that to help with strategy and planning.
    3. Improved program outcomes, including reduced costs – How, for example, would a new solution improve your in-take process? Or the speed of WCB form filing? And will it truly reduce the time case managers spend on administration? These and other criteria are all part of reducing your average absence duration, which in turn has the potential to reduce your program costs in a big way.
    4. A great user experience – bottom line is, your program is there to serve and support your people who need help. Users should have access to everything they need – claim forms, medical records, modified work plans etc. – in one digital home, pre-populated as much as possible, and accessed with the click of a button on a phone or computer at home. We now expect this ease-of-use and interactivity in all aspects of our lives.
  3. Deployment – how flexible is the solution? Do you have to buy, install and manage a complex software suite on your own, which means more work for your IT team? Can you outsource some or all administrative functions to the solution provider, enabling you to reduce your cost structure over time? Can you implement a co-sourcing model, where you maintain control over some administration functions while the provider manages others? The point is, how easily can a new solution be configured and deployed for the unique needs of your organization and workforce culture?
  4. User experience – Most of us understand this intuitively: when it comes to adopting a new solution or technology, the experience and expertise of the provider is a huge factor. The fact is, for anyone who has spent any time in corporate or institutional life, we all know that new technologies take time to mature and be adopted. So when you start looking around, look for the track record – the facts of success – behind the value proposition.