4 steps to starting a disability program

Among the many hats you wear each day, counseling clients about how to effectively use their benefits programs may be one of the most important. One of the primary aspects of this role is implementing the program and onboarding the client. Unfortunately, this process does not receive the attention it deserves.

I’ve attended dozens of implementation meetings and have learned that they can make or break a company’s use of its disability program. They can often define the program’s success as well. Implementation meetings are the opportunity for your client and the new carrier to learn about one another, understand processes, and — most importantly — help your client’s organization learn how to deliver the assistance client’s need to return to and remain at work.

When you’re able to start your clients off on the right foot with disability program implementation, it can help alleviate future headaches for both you and your HR manager clients alike. The job isn’t done after a disability program is selected; using a program to its fullest potential takes plenty of communication and understanding.

Also see: “What lawn mowers and retirement plans have in common

Here are four steps to take when advising clients on the importance of implementation meetings, so that both your client and carrier can get the most out of their new partnership:

Get a baseline understanding of the client’s culture
Every organization is different, and the client’s current disability process should be understood by all parties, including the carrier. Before a meeting takes place, carriers will want to understand the employer’s current disability process, who are the important internal stakeholders and if there are common problems or health conditions that are arising within your workforce. Offering solutions is much easier when you understand from where the problems may have arisen.

Recommend multidisciplinary attendance
Encourage clients to identify all key stakeholders who would be involved if an employee were to experience an illness or injury and then have your client get them together in the same room. HR managers shouldn’t be the only ones informed about the program; Implementation meetings should include management, executives, coordinators and facilities services to ensure everyone is working toward a common goal.

Also see: “10 states with the worst healthcare.”

Encourage benefit vendor cooperation
Sometimes more cooks in the kitchen can be a good thing. Help your clients maximize the resources they already have through other providers, like employee assistance, wellness or disease management programs. Heightened communication between programs means more efficiency and greater benefits utilization overall.

Be present
Attend the initial program implementation meeting and the follow-up so that you can stay in-the-know. Ask questions, stay on the same page as your clients and help set the groundwork for a successful program.

By taking these four steps, you’re on your way to ensuring your clients are getting the most out of their disability program. Of the many hats HR managers must wear, implementing a solid disability program can protect clients from the hardships of life — like it’s meant to do.

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