Among all of their other responsibilities, your clients in HR ultimately want to serve as advocates for their employees and protect their organizations’ productivity. One of the most tangible ways to demonstrate a commitment to both is by helping employees who are at risk of, or are returning from, a disability leave through reasonable accommodations. Yet, a new study shows a major gap in HR managers’ understanding of how to implement an employee accommodation.

According to recent research from Standard Insurance Company (The Standard), nearly 50% of HR managers have little to no knowledge of how to implement a reasonable accommodation. In addition, HR managers only have about eight hours per month to assist employees with disabilities. These findings highlight an important opportunity for brokers to help educate their clients on the type of assistance a group disability plan can offer.

Here are three ways you can help get your clients up to speed on reasonable accommodations:

1) Pinpoint a starting point.

The Standard study revealed mixed results on where employers turn first to implement a reasonable accommodation. Responses ranged from legal departments to professional organizations. In reality, HR managers often can start with their disability insurance carrier, which will provide recommendations and assistance in the form of either return-to-work or stay-at-work accommodations.

2) Share support options.

Often, disability insurance carriers serve as an extension of the HR team to ease the burden of implementing reasonable accommodations. Carriers often can research accommodations, implement and source equipment or any modifications and check to ensure the accommodations are meeting employees’ needs.

3) Correct cost misconceptions.

Most HR managers estimate the average reasonable accommodation will cost around $1,000, according to The Standard research. In actuality, common accommodations, such as modifying work schedules, job restructuring, temporary assignments and providing assistive technology or equipment, often are fairly inexpensive.

Helping your clients better understand the basics of reasonable accommodations can help them better serve their employees and employers. More important, it also underscores the value of their disability insurance and your position as a consultative resource.

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

The Standard is a marketing name for StanCorp Financial Group, Inc. and subsidiaries. Insurance products are offered by Standard Insurance Company of 1100 SW Sixth Avenue, Portland, Ore. in all states except New York, where insurance products are offered by The Standard Life Insurance Company of New York of 360 Hamilton Avenue, Suite 210, White Plains, N.Y. Product features and availability vary by state and company, and are solely the responsibility of each subsidiary. Each company is solely responsible for its own financial condition. Standard Insurance Company is licensed to solicit insurance business in all states except New York. The Standard Life Insurance Company of New York is licensed to solicit insurance business in only the state of New York.

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