As a disability consultant, I hear the same questions about employee health and wellness from benefit managers time and time again. Many — especially those at smaller companies — have never had to help an employee with an accommodation at work or help chart their path back to work after a disability leave. They just aren’t sure where to start.

Some disability carriers offer consultants to help guide busy benefit and HR managers through the process. These consultants can advise about everything from at-risk employees to coordinating benefits from multiple carriers. Here are some of the common problems they can help with.

An employee is dealing with some health issues and might need to take a disability leave. How can I start helping this person now?

Start by reaching out to a consultant from your disability carrier to talk through that exact employee’s issue. This consultant can help with preventative measures such as ergonomic accommodations or temporary job placement, which can help ward off additional injury or strain that may be exacerbated by the employee’s job role.

If the employee is out on a disability leave, a consultant also can assist with return-to-work plans. Ideally, this can help make the employee’s transition back to work smooth, as it can provide the best possible solution for the employee, taking medical limitations or restrictions into account.  

Also see: How might the ACA affect disability claims and employee absences?

How can I make the most of my employee wellness program?

Chances are you’re providing extra resources to help your employees stay well — and stay at work. Employee assistance programs and wellness/disease management programs are some of the most common.

To get the most from these programs, match at-risk employees with the right resources or survey your employees to see which types of resources would be most beneficial for them. If you’re stuck, a disability consultant can ask the tough health-related questions for you. He or she can help encourage employees to connect with the appropriate resource and might even be able to direct employees to benefits offered by other carriers in your benefits package.

My employee needs help with the claims process, but I’m confused, too. How can I help him/her?

Navigating the claims process isn’t always easy. And with dozens of tasks on your to-do list, you may not have time to guide an employee through the process. A consultant can help an employee navigate the claims process, working with an employee’s doctor to deal with a health-related concern and help recommend the best approach to keeping them at work and productive.

Here’s a phrase we’ve all heard before — two heads are better than one. With a third-party consultant to help solve these common issues, you may be able to reduce the instances of disability in your workplace.


Brian Kost is the program director for Standard Insurance Company’s Workplace Possibilities program. Brian implements and coordinates several on-site programs that allow employees to get back to work more quickly and maintain productivity, and develops and maintains the metrics that monitor companies’ success.

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