YOU PROBABLY know someone whose family has been financially devastated by disability, be it from a car or motorcycle accident, a back or neck injury, complications arising from pregnancy/childbirth or as a result of disease.

Nearly every worker in your organization and most of your applicants could introduce you to at least one family that’s been affected. This is why employees tend to place a high value on employer-provided disability income insurance: They know they’re at risk themselves.

Nearly half of the talent pool out there considers disability insurance to be a “must-have” employee benefit when it comes to deciding where they are going to work.

According to the “15th Annual MetLife Employee Benefit Trends Survey,” 45% of respondents considered long-term disability insurance to be a must-have, and 43% felt the same way about a group short-term disability plan.

Disability insurance isn’t ranked as high as major medical plans or dental insurance, but it is quite a bit more important in today’s marketplace for top talent than other programs like accident insurance, identity theft protection and legal services coverage.

According to the Society for Human Resources Management, 72% of employers surveyed provided group long-term disability insurance as an employee benefit as of the first quarter of 2017,  while 65% of employers surveyed offered short-term disability insurance.

Many workers and employers assume that employees receive disability insurance coverage via their workers’ compensation insurance.

This is a mistake because workers’ compensation only covers injuries or illnesses that are directly related to the workplace.

This amounts to only about 5% of disabling injuries or illnesses. Ninety-five percent of the time, a newly disabled worker will not be covered by workers’ compensation insurance.

Social Security only provides benefits if the worker is nearly totally disabled – and the benefit is barely enough to maintain a subsistence level income.

Building value

If you provide disability insurance, make sure your employees understand the value of the package.

If possible, you can point to disability benefits received by people within the company, like former employees who have been affected by accidents and illnesses, who had to leave their jobs, and who were saved from having their homes foreclosed on or being otherwise forced into destitution thanks to the company group disability insurance plan.

Disability insurance can help prevent presenteeism. Many times, workers will show up to work even if they are sick or hurt, simply because they need the money.

But, workers trying to “work through” a disability are less productive, and can be a drain on company profits.

Worse, they may pose a safety hazard both to themselves and to others around them: Too often, workers report to work while taking powerful medications like codeine and OxyContin, and create a significant safety risk while driving to and from work and while operating machinery at work.

A good short-term disability plan, especially, can help reduce the tendency of employers to keep coming to work while trying to recover from significant medical events or while taking narcotics or other powerful medications.

Other benefits

Disability insurers work with patients, employers and care providers to get workers back to work and off the claim.

Carriers generally provide case managers to help arrange occupational therapy and other forms of treatment to help the employee transition back to the workforce.

The employee’s case manager can maybe help you design a plan to start them working from home, or working part time while they gradually regain the ability to work full time.

The key benefit to the employer is the boost in employee loyalty and morale that comes with being an employer that provides this vital coverage for their workforce.