Not only is it your responsibility to help your employee get better, but it’s also important for you to help them realize that things are going to turn out fine for them, both financially and in terms of their job security.
Here are a few ways you can help your employee who's dealing with a short-term disability.
#1 Communicate Openly and Regularly
One of the most important things you can do is to communicate openly and regularly with your employee. Check on them regularly to see how they're doing and what accommodations they may need. Be sure to listen actively and respond empathetically to their concerns.
When you communicate, make sure you keep their privacy in mind. Only share information about their disability on a need-to-know basis. Encourage them to share information about their disability as well, so you can better understand their needs and how to accommodate them.
#2 Make Accommodations
Depending on the nature of your employee's disability, they may need specific accommodations in the workplace.
Some common accommodations include:
- Flexible work hours or a modified work schedule
- Ergonomic furniture or equipment
- Changes to their workspace or job duties
- Remote working facilities
#3 Provide Emotional Support
Dealing with a short-term disability can be emotionally taxing for employees. They may feel isolated or frustrated, which can impact their mental health and overall well-being. Providing emotional support can help them cope with their disability and feel more supported.
Consider offering employee assistance programs (EAPs) or counseling services to help employees deal with their emotions. You could also designate a point person or HR representative for your employee to speak to if they need support.
#4 Offer Disability Insurance Benefits
Disability insurance benefits can provide financial security for employees with disabilities by replacing a portion of their income if they are unable to work due to a covered disability. These benefits may also provide access to rehabilitation and vocational training programs to help eligible workers and employees with disabilities return to work and regain their independence.
Providing disability insurance benefits allow employers to demonstrate their commitment to supporting employees with disabilities and help to alleviate some of the financial stress that may accompany a disability.
Check with your local regulations to see if your employee actually qualifies for such benefits. These things vary from state to state.
For instance, in New York, an employee qualifies for such benefits if they work at least 50 percent full time and have an annual salary that’s at least $15,000. As you move to New Jersey, these requirements change drastically.
In the case of short-term disability in NJ, an employee will qualify for the Temporary Disability Insurance if they worked at least 20 weeks at your company and earned at least $240 weekly or earned a total of $12,000 in the base year.
Once all these regulations are sorted out and understood, you can partner up with an insurance agency and have them find an insurer who can work with you to plan the best possible benefits package. Some agencies work across multiple states and can help you navigate all regulations if you’re operating offices in multiple states.
For instance, agencies like Dickstein Associates Agency provide services in both New Jersey and New York, along with a bunch of other states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Utah.
Employers who run multiple branches across these locations can easily stick to this one agency to cover all their employees’ insurance-related matters. Doing so will allow the employer to have a bird’s eye view of the insurance policies and costs across all states and realize how to better navigate these policies in a way that will benefit both them and their employees.
#5 Be Flexible and Understanding
It's important to be flexible and understanding when working with employees dealing with short-term disabilities. They may need extra time to complete tasks or may not be able to work at the same pace as before. Be patient and understanding, and try to accommodate their needs as much as possible.
If they need to take time off work for medical appointments or recovery, be flexible with their schedule. Offer the ability to work from home if necessary, or allow them to take a leave of absence if they need it.
#6 Keep Them in the Loop
Make sure to keep your employee in the loop about any changes or updates that may impact them. This could include changes in the workplace, upcoming deadlines, or new projects they will be involved in. Keeping them informed can help reduce stress and anxiety and help them feel more connected to the workplace.
Also, be sure to stay in touch with their healthcare provider to understand their medical needs and limitations. This can help you make informed decisions about accommodations and ensure your employee is getting the support they need.
A disability, no matter how short-lived it may be, will shock and scare the victim to their core. Therefore, as the boss, you must do whatever you can to help these employees and, most importantly, assure them that it’s not yet over for their career and their lives.