Imagine if you will a person within a company that, while not managing specific claims or files, can coordinate all benefit activities, including the administration of workers' compensation. They would have direct access to all employees out on leave or off the job, regardless of whether the issue is FMLA, ADA or workers' comp. They would be able to access payroll records, human resource files, and have direct communication lines to carriers, vendors and TPA's to help answer questions, provide solutions and coordinate benefit delivery for employees in need.  

Such a person exists at networking giant Cisco Systems. An embedded employee of Sedgwick, her position is serving to break down traditional silos that exist in many other companies. 

Cisco reviewed their absence management program in a presentation Tuesday as part of the DMEC Annual Conference here in San Francisco. I was generally impressed with the full integration of workers' comp into their general benefits and leave management program, and I was very impressed with the concept of an internal benefits consultant. It was interesting to note that the position was placed through Sedgwick because the Cisco program manager did not have the budget to hire a new person, but did have the budget to pay their TPA for the project.

Dilbert is alive and well in corporate America, folks. 

Still, it was a creative solution that has introduced a concept worth considering. What they have really done is designate a person to communicate and simplify very complex issues for their employees in need of assistance. By incorporating workers' compensation, they are streamlining information and guidance for all of their people, which can only help produce better results for their occupationally injured employees. This was part of a broader approach towards integrated disability management, and a dedicated effort to focus on the Cisco “employee experience” surrounding matters pertinent to the subject. 

I hope to write more about the employee experience focus in the weeks to come.

There were several sessions here at DMEC showing that, for some employers at least, the traditional firewalls between Benefits/Leave Management and Workers' Compensation are beginning to break down. The two groups have much to learn from each other, and this is a trend we should continue to encourage. For employers there is only an upside, as there are common skill sets in both groups that could produce far better results in a coordinated environment than they ever will in their individual compartmentalized roles. 

The concept of a benefits consultant is simply an example of what can be produced from a blending of those talents.

Wednesday is the final day of DMEC, and I am taking a few days off while out west to relax and visit family. While I'm gone, take a peek outside your workers' compensation silo. The world of benefits administration and disability management is an increasingly complex and challenging one, and they could use your input. Likewise, we could benefit from theirs.  

Who knows, you might wind up building yourself a benefits consultant, and improving your own employee’s experience. 


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