Overcoming Transitional RTW Program Development Challenges

DMEC Staff@Work

What’s Holding You Back? Overcoming Transitional RTW Program Development Challenges

By Tori Weeks, CEAS

Regional Dir., Health and Productivity Analytics
Prudential

Unplanned absences are a leading cause of frustration for U.S. employers in all industries, small and large. Employers know they will have unexpected absences from their workforce, yet most employers do not consider how to plan for them. Employers continue to find it challenging to holistically track the reason as to when, why, and for how long their employees are absent or expect to be absent from work. In short, a significant cost of doing business is largely unmeasured and unmanaged by many employers.

To remedy this gap, new technologies have the potential to simplify the absence management process for employers. Over the past decade, absence tracking has improved through cloud-based human resource information system (HRIS) platforms. Many employers have expressed interest in moving toward a “total absence management” model. But to implement a comprehensive system inhouse entails significant cost and can drain an organization’s information technologies (IT) and HR staff time that was already budgeted for other corporate priorities.

This reality forces many employers to seek new vendor partnerships or request technical support from their current vendor partners. These employers want to track and manage several key cost areas, including: Family and Medical Leave Act leaves, short-term and long-term disability, workers’ compensation (WC), and state- and municipality-mandated leaves.

Although vendors can reduce the barrier of startup costs, employers must still attempt to quantify the total cost opportunity from tracking and reducing these leaves to plan for a new program initiative. But if employers cannot quantify when their workforce is absent and for how long, how can they quantify their total cost of planned and unplanned absences? And if employers cannot answer this question, it is very likely that absenteeism has not appeared as an issue on the radar for upper management.

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