Integrated Absence Management: Supervisors Are Key

DMEC Staff@Work

Supervisors: Key to Managing and Preventing Absence

SupervisorsBy Glenn Pransky, MD

Scientific Advisor
Lincoln Financial Group

By Tawnya Goertzen

Director, Clinical Vocational Operations
Lincoln Financial Group

Preventing and managing work absence is increasingly becoming a priority for many organizations. In today’s complex, high-tech workplace, it’s harder than ever to replace the skills and experience of a valued employee. To help with this, some organizations are turning to external vendors for medical management, early contact with disabled employees, and return-to-work (RTW) coordination. These services are effective in long-term disability, but do not prevent work absence or address the critical early phase when workplace issues affecting RTW are most important.

Studies show that unsupportive supervisor responses lead to more and longer work absences. Workers are likely to be out longer if they expect penalties for missing work, no RTW accommodation, or denial of their disability claim.

When a worker first comes to their supervisor with a health condition affecting their ability to work, they expect genuine concern, support, and problem-solving assistance. Studies have shown that positive workplace responses are key to successful RTW. These responses are credible only if they come from within the workplace — not from third parties.

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