Our parent company, Presagia, recently returned from the 2018 Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) Annual Conference, which featured rich, enlightening, and inspiring discussions on numerous topics pertaining to the absence and disability management industry! The sessions at this year’s conference were packed with tips and strategies to help employers - from leveraging the unique talents of a diverse workforce, to proactively supporting employees who may be in distress. We’d like to share the three biggest lessons from this year's conference to help you best manage today's workforce!
1. Your Employees Need You… Now More Than Ever!
One of the biggest lessons learned at this year’s conference is that today’s workforce needs more from their workplace than a routine, ‘punch-in, punch-out’ structure. Numerous discussions emerged throughout the conference that encouraged employers to strive to be more proactive and supportive to promote the best outcomes… for employees and employers alike!
Accordingly, employers are beginning to realize the importance of mental health in the workplace, and the consequences of not supporting it, including absenteeism. Rachel Shaw’s general session, Mental Health in the Workplace: The Invisible Disability, Now Visible, addressed the need for taking care of the workforce’s mental health needs, and provided some guidance for employers.
In this session, HR professionals were advised to improve their understanding of mental illness, while also destigmatizing mental health issues in the workplace, considering that 1 in 4 adults are affected by mental health challenges each year. Ensuring there are processes in place to support mental health concerns can reduce the impact they have on employees and on an organization’s bottom line.
Fortunately, employers are well-positioned to provide support to employees in need! Shaw highlighted the importance of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), an often underutilized resource that can help reduce missed workdays and increase employee satisfaction. As long as employers are well-prepared, their support can make all the difference for employees who are dealing with mental health issues!
This year’s conference also touched upon how employers can help employees overcome challenges, such as those faced after a life-changing illness or injury. With employer support, employees are often able to return to work sooner, which assists in their recovery and restores confidence in their abilities.
In the session, Getting Back in the Game: Returning to Work After a Life-Changing Injury or Illness, athlete Keith Gabel discussed his journey after an industrial accident which led to the loss of his left foot. During Gabel’s return to work he was treated like family by his employer, aiding in his quick recovery and allowing him to return to his passion: snowboarding. Gabel has gone on to take home medals from the Paralympic Games and other sporting events, while inspiring others along the way!
2. Different Abilities = New Perspectives
Right from the start of the conference, employers were called upon to recognize the value of a diverse workforce. Keynote speaker, Nyle DiMarco, delivered an inspiring presentation to kick off the conference. DiMarco spoke to the fact that he doesn’t consider being deaf a disadvantage, despite others seeing it as a barrier. DiMarco shared his struggles and successes with the audience, including an eye-opening account of an instance when his non-verbal communication skills were far more effective than verbal communication skills.
DiMarco’s presentation left employers with the knowledge that organizations stand to benefit greatly from the experiences and abilities of a diverse workforce. Making the effort to incorporate individuals with different talents and abilities could be the key to taking your organization to the next level!
In Neurodiversity: Driving Innovation from Unexpected Places, Jamell Mitchell and Christopher Morris from EY shared the amazing results their organization saw after hiring neurodiverse individuals on the autism spectrum, only 32% of whom are in paid employment positions. The concept of neurodiversity is often used to refer to the autism spectrum, as it “considers the range of differences in human brain function and behavioral traits as normal variations.” EY found that their neurodiverse employees excelled at innovation, which led to enhancements to their overall processes.
By taking the time to understand the needs of individuals who are often overlooked by employers, EY was able to tap into their unique perspectives, leading to improvements across their whole organization. Throughout this session and the conference, employers were encouraged to look past stigma and stereotypes to see the talented individuals who are right in front of them.
3. You Know Your Employees Best
As you may already know, handling leave and accommodation internally can add a human touch back to a process that’s often necessary during times of loss, injury, family circumstances, or illness. So of course this year’s conference featured sessions to guide employers with their in-house leave and accommodation processes!
In The Digital Do’s & Don’ts of Leave Technology, Connie Moore and Melanie Payton from Pacific Resources provided guidance for employers looking to leverage technology to administer leave internally. Moore and Payton recognized that employers know their employees better than a third-party administrator (TPA), and can provide a superior employee experience.
This session showed employers that adopting a technological solution can be a win-win, allowing them to maintain personal connections with employees and stay on top of the ever-evolving leave law landscape! Employers also learned that adopting a leave management technology solution can improve their compliance, efficiency and case management. Another session, Frisco School District: Leading Leave Compliance in Texas, explored these benefits of utilizing a leave management solution, and many others!
In their session, Brenna Rose and Jessica Gilbert, from Frisco Independent School District, presented the extraordinary results of transitioning from manual leave administration to Presagia's leave management solution. They’re now confidently administering leave in a workplace with above-average leave volume and rapid growth with a personal touch, and inspired the audience at their session to strive for the same!
Check out Frisco Independent School District's full presentation here!
These three lesson make up just a handful of the takeaways from this year’s DMEC Annual Conference, which never ceases to amaze with its comprehensive coverage of strategies for managing today’s workforce! Over the course of just a few days, attendees were inspired and ready to apply their new skills to their own organizations. We can’t wait to see what next year’s conference will bring!