Employers are paying more attention to absence management, and trying to get a sense of how effectively their efforts measure up to other companies. After more than 10 years of helping employers evaluate the way they manage employee leave, we have learned that certain activities almost always lead to positive absence management outcomes.

Here are the five best practices that most consistently lead to absence management success:

  1. Implementing a full return-to-work (RTW) program

    RTW programs outline the process by which employees return to work after leave. A full program should include a written RTW policy, an interactive process in which the employee meets with HR and a case manager to discuss ways they can return to work, transitional plans that help disabled employees return to work safely, and clear guidelines for the duration of the disability, based on a physician’s diagnosis.
  2. Obtaining integrated reports

    Employers who keep track of every aspect of an employee’s leave have a comprehensive view and the data to further refine return-to-work efforts. Reports should include disability and FMLA usage patterns and claimant status, and disability costs.
  3. Providing health management referrals

    When part of a disability or FMLA process, a referral system can connect employees with the health management programs the employer offers, such as their Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This adds value to the employee experience and helps employees deal with personal or medical problems that might adversely affect work performance.
  4. Centralizing the intake process

    Using a central portal for reporting both paid and unpaid leaves help to streamline administration and promote a better employee experience.
  5. Using the same resource for short-term disability (STD) and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leaves

Since many absences are due to an employee’s own health issue, STD and FMLA are often inter-connected. Centralizing STD and FMLA management can not only enhance the employee leave experience, but also help ease administration for the employer.

Do these best practices align with your current absence management program?

If they do not – and even if they do – it’s time to look more closely at how your absence management efforts are serving your employees, and your business. Guardian provides tools and resources to help create the best possible employee leave experiences while optimizing efficiency and ensuring compliance.

Learn more about absence management now.

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Unless otherwise noted, the source of all information is the Guardian Absence Management Activity Index & Study (2021).

Guardian’s Group Disability Insurance is underwritten and issued by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY.  Products are not available in all states. 

2021-120928 20230731