Workplace accommodations are a win-win for employers and employees alike. Accommodating employees who are experiencing disabling illnesses or injuries can help them work more comfortably, boost productivity and minimize missed work days due to medical-related leaves.

Accommodations also can serve as tangible evidence of an organization’s commitment to its employees’ well-being and desire to retain valuable talent. Indeed, 83% of the employers who call the Job Accommodation Network for help with accommodations are doing so to retain a current employee.

Yet despite these advantages, providing workplace accommodations may sometimes be challenging for employers and their overloaded HR teams. Here are four ways for advisers to coach their clients on how they can accommodate their employees more effectively:

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"By employing these four best practices, advisers can help their clients work smarter—not harder—to make reasonable accommodations a reality in their workplaces."
  1. Work through a disability carrier. A client’s current accommodation process may include getting bounced around by the legal department and muddling through industry association websites. Instead, advise the client to go directly to its disability carrier, which has case managers that will research, acquire and deploy equipment, and also follow up with employees to ensure that the accommodations are working.
  2. Connect the dots between insurance, wellness and employee assistance programs. Sound solutions often require pooling the knowledge and services offered by the providers of various employer-sponsored benefit programs, including workers’ comp, employee assistance and wellness programs. While working with multiple providers may seem time-consuming, it doesn’t have to be. A client’s disability carrier can serve as the liaison and lead the collaboration among all parties, while keeping the client in the loop but out of the middle of the process.
  3. Rethink the costs. A 2014 survey of 300 HR managers conducted by The Standard found that they put the cost of an accommodation at around $1,000. In reality, there are many low-cost or no-cost options that can be easily implemented. Approaches such as job restructuring, schedule modification and even assistive technology and equipment are often fairly inexpensive, but incredibly helpful ways to help employees manage their medical conditions while at work.
  4. Have experts do the heavy lifting. By working through experts from the client’s disability carrier, the client ensures that their assessments will include the right questions to determine what is best for their employees and that the best possible accommodations are put forward.

By employing these four best practices, advisers can help their clients work smarter—not harder—to make reasonable accommodations a reality in their workplaces.

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Brian Kost

Brian Kost

Kost is the program director for Standard Insurance Company’s Workplace Possibilities program.