WORKPLACE KEY FOR DRIVING CHANGE IN DISABILITY PREPAREDNESS
New MetLife White Paper Outlines Business Benefits of a Protected Workforce
NEW YORK, May 18, 2010
MetLife, a leading provider of employee benefits, today announced the availability of a new resource that helps employers understand the emotional and financial consequences that a disabling illness or injury can have on their employees, as well as the toll it can have on meeting business objectives. Everything Changed in the Blink of an Eye, Putting a Face on the Emotional and Financial Impact of Disability utilizes insights gained from surveying hundreds of people who experienced a disability and missed at least six months of work to illustrate how employers can more effectively maximize the value of a disability benefits program for all stakeholders.
Experiencing a disabling illness or injury negatively impacted the emotional and financial well-being of all survey participants. At least 75% of individuals said their disability had a devastating or major impact on their lifestyle, as well as on their confidence and emotional well-being. Furthermore, 80% reported that their disability had a devastating or major effect on their financial security. The severity of the effects can perhaps be explained by the fact that only two out of five affected individuals had any disability income protection coverage. Among those who did have coverage, nine in ten obtained it through the workplace.
"The numbers are disturbing. The vast majority of working Americans have not adequately protected one of their most important assets – the ability to earn an income. The MetLife research underscores the important role of the workplace in helping employees protect themselves and their families against unexpected income loss," said Paul Taylor, vice president, Group Disability Products, MetLife. "A disability income protection program can be a win-win for employers and employees alike. Improved employee productivity and retention are likely to be some of the positive outcomes afforded to employers that provide access and education to employees to help them obtain effective disability protection."
Survey participants that had disability income protection returned to work an average of three months sooner than those without. In addition, they were twice as likely to return to the same employer in the same job function. The MetLife study also shows that disability coverage can positively impact employees’ perceptions of their employers – 65% of individuals reported that they felt better about their employer after receiving benefits.
Tips for Employers
Everything Changed in the Blink of an Eye, Putting a Face on the Emotional and Financial Impact of Disability offers several tips for employers to help their employees be better protected against the effects of disability, including:
- Counter the cost barrier. 71% of employees cited affordability as the reason for not having disability coverage, so put the relatively small outlay for protection into perspective by comparing it with the potential emotional and financial costs of not having coverage. Offering buy-up options through the workplace can help ensure employees have access to enough coverage to meet their personal needs.
- Simplify and demystify with education and tools. Make sure that communications clearly articulate the protection and peace of mind disability benefits can provide, and provide calculators and other resources that can help in determining the right amount of coverage to meet employees' needs.
- Check for a compassionate and efficient service experience. A positive claims experience for the employee can yield positive loyalty and retention return for the employer.
- Create a return-to-work culture at the workplace. Make a difference in employees' reintegration into the workforce with careful planning and management of the process. Foster a supportive return-to-work culture that permeates the entire organization.
- Encourage wellness at work. Disease management and wellness programs are growing in popularity, but are still underutilized, as ways to help employees stay healthy and productive.
MetLife's Study of the Emotional and Financial Impact of Disability was conducted in March 2010 by Zeldis Research Associates, and surveyed 300 people, ages 25 to 55, who had experienced a non-workers' compensation/ non-pregnancy disability that prevented them from working for six months or more but have since returned to work. The disability they experienced occurred in the past 10 years.
MetLife is a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), a leading provider of insurance, employee benefits and financial services with operations throughout the United States and the Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific regions. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife, Inc. reaches more than 70 million customers around the world and MetLife is the largest life insurer in the United States (based on life insurance in-force). The MetLife companies offer life insurance, annuities, auto and home insurance, retail banking and other financial services to individuals, as well as group insurance and retirement & savings products and services to corporations and other institutions. For more information, visit www.metlife.com.