Do employees know where to go in a health crisis?
When talking to employers about their disability programs, I often ask, “Who do your employees go to first for assistance when they have a health condition?”
If I ask that question of a direct supervisor, it’s met with a quick response of “Me!”, which is quickly followed with the statement, “My employees know that my door is always open and I’m here to help them!”
Sadly, this is not true. The Standard recently surveyed employees who experienced a health condition in the workplace and asked that same question: Who did you go to for assistance? The responses varied.
For example, we found that at midsize companies with 100 to 499 employees, it varied:
· 44% went to their HR manager
· 33% went to their direct supervisor
· 18% went to their HR manager and direct supervisor
· 5% went elsewhere
What this shows is that many employers don’t have a consistent process in place for addressing employees with health conditions. This confusion or misunderstanding about whom to approach for assistance can create an inconsistent process for your clients and their workforce — potentially resulting in a negative experience for employees and lost productivity for employers.
Based on the survey findings, employees who worked with their HR manager tended to have a more positive experience and felt more valued and productive after speaking with them about their health condition.
For instance, 54% of employees felt uncomfortable discussing their health condition with their direct supervisor, versus only 37% of employees who went to their HR manager. In addition, 73% of employees who worked with their HR manager felt they knew how to provide the right support for their condition versus 61% of employees who worked with their direct supervisor.
There are several reasons why working with an HR manager can be more beneficial for employees, and ultimately, your clients. Typically, working with an HR manager can lead to more communication while an employee is on leave. Our research shows employees who worked with an HR manager were more likely to receive communication on leave and returned to work 44% faster than when they worked with their direct supervisor.
HR managers also are usually more aware of available resources and how to connect employees to necessary programs to help treat their condition. HR managers who engaged their disability carriers saw a 22% boost in employees’ use of workplace resources, such as an EAP, or disease management or wellness program, when involved in a return-to-work or stay-at-work plan.
This connection to additional resources is essential, as it can help employees receive holistic support to manage their health condition — whether it’s financial wellness support, connection to mental health resources through an EAP or one-on-one sessions with a health coach. HR managers also are usually able to better engage their disability carrier to provide tailored accommodations, which can help aid in stay-at-work or return-to-work plans.
Providing your client with these findings can help them understand the importance of creating a disability process that puts HR as the main point of contact. Not only does this create a consistent experience that helps provide employees with the support they need, it can improve employee morale and reduce turnover.