Skip to main content
Return to Absence Insights

Employer-Provider Return-to-Work (RTW) Programs Benefit Employers, Employees

Return-to-Work programs: Why they’re better for employees and employers alike.

Most employers today face tremendous financial pressures, forced to do more with fewer resources. When employee accidents and illnesses occur—both on and off the job—employers get hit twice. Not only do they pay wages and benefits during work absences, but also incur indirect costs, such as lost productivity and training new replacement workers.

The good news is that employers who take steps to implement temporary work accommodations for employees can help drive down those costs—and, at the same time, help their employees return to work.

The Impact of Illness and Absence

$576 billion
Annual cost of poor health
to the U.S. economy.

39%
Percent of overall health cost
due to lost productivity alone –
that’s $227 billion.1

The economic impact of employee illness. A recent study found that disability costs associated with a heart attack far exceed an employer’s direct costs. The estimated productivity loss per claim for short-term disability was $7,943, while the long-term disability cost was $52,473.

A Perfect Storm

Corporate downsizing, a weak economy and expansions to federally mandated laws pertaining to employee leave
have created additional financial challenges. What’s more, it’s anticipated that the incidence of injury and health-related medical absences will rise as more Americans work beyond traditional retirement age—forcing organizations to adapt.

It’s projected that the number of workers over age 55 will comprise as much as one-fifth of the nation’s workforce by 2015.3

The direct and indirect costs of poor health.

The direct cost of employee absences due to physical or mental health-related issues is a significant burden for many organizations. With skyrocketing healthcare and Worker Compensation costs comprising a big piece of worker absences, employers often fail to calculate the full impact of lost productivity.

But the fact is that the indirect costs of poor health—including absenteeism, disability or reduced work output—may be several times higher than direct medical costs.5.

It’s projected that the number of workers over age 55 will comprise as much as one-fifth of the nation’s workforce by
2015.

Over 25%: Percentage of today’s 20 year-olds who will become disabled before reaching age 67.

Sooner is usually better—for recovery and productivity.

In today’s uncertain economic climate, retaining experienced, productive employees is critical. Generally, the sooner an ill or disabled employee can be brought back to work in some capacity, the faster he or she is likely to make a full recovery.

“When organizations actively partner with their short-term group insurance provider to implement a Return-to-Work (RTW) program, they help foster a culture of healthier, more loyal employees,” says John Rogers, Assistant Vice President, Claims Customer Support for The Hartford’s Group Benefit Claims Operation.

1 Integrated Benefits Institute, September 12, 2012. http://www.ibiweb.org/UserFiles/File/Poor Health Costs US Economy 576 Billion.pdf viewed on 11/30/12.
2 Robert Lee Page, Associate Professor. Department of Clinical Pharmacy & Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Colorado School of Medicine. 11/12/12, http://newsroom.heart.org/news/heart-attack-packs-a-wallop-to-239563, viewed on 1/4/13.
3 Employer Strategies for Responding to an Aging Workforce, Department of Labor, March 2012. http://www.dol.gov/odep/pdf/NTAR_Employer_Strategies_Report.pdf, viewed 11/30/12
4 Social Security Administration, March 18, 2011. http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/factsheets/basicfact-alt.pdf viewed 11/30/12.
5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), April 25, 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/businesscase/reasons/productivity.html, viewed on 11/20/12.
6 Companies with an RTW partnership included an established RTW liaison and Hartford RTW Coordinators. Based on Hartford data closed claims incurred in 2011 for each company.

Download This Article

Click here to download a PDF version of this article.

More Absence Articles

From learning about the most recent topics in ADAAA to Return-to-Work program benefits.

Read More Articles