New survey says supervisors and managers are poorly equipped to deal with employee disability, absenteeism and productivity issues

    TORONTO, June 4 /CNW/ - A new research brief concludes that far too many
supervisors and managers in the Canadian workplace are not equipped to deal
with employee health, productivity, absenteeism, disability, and employees
returning to work after an absence. According to the survey, which involved
more than 100 Canadian organizations, this can be even more of a problem
during times of economic uncertainty.
    Shepell-fgi, Canada's leading provider of workplace health and
productivity solutions, surveyed Human Resources professionals at the 2008
Health, Work and Wellness Conference, held in Vancouver last October. The
underlying theme of many responses was that manager support for employee
health and productivity is sadly lacking. The research brief, The Missing
Link: The Supervisor's Role in Employee Health Management, was prepared by the
Shepell-fgi Research Group. According to the brief:

    -   84% of respondents said that supervisors in their organizations do
        not receive data on real-time employee absence

    -   81% said their organization does not have a structured process in
        place consistently used by supervisors to address intermittent
        problems with employee absence

    -   64% said their organization does not have a structured process in
        place consistently used by supervisors to support employees returning
        to work after an illness or disability

    -   84% said their organization does not have a structured process in
        place consistently used by supervisors to address significant changes
        or problems in employee productivity or behaviour.

    "When leaders from more than 100 of Canada's top organizations say they
do not have the basic tools to support employees in distress, it raises a lot
of concern," said Rod Phillips, President and CEO of Shepell-fgi. "This is
especially true in challenging economic times, when employee health and
productivity is a key element for any business to withstand the downturn, and
emerge from it in a position of strength."
    Phillips said employee access of EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs) in
the Canadian workplace has increased by 10% in the first quarter of 2009,
compared to last year, largely due to the economy. In February, the
Shepell-fgi Research Group released a report called Financial Distress Impacts
Health and Productivity, which showed rising rates of EAP access by employees,
especially for financial concerns.
    The survey was completed by managers, employees, and senior leaders.
About 60% of the respondents worked in benefits and pensions, human resources,
and health and safety. Others were involved in disability management, business
operations management, technology and data management, occupational health,
finance, and payroll and administration.
    "Supervisors are asking for more support in managing the whole issue of
employee absence, which includes being less than optimally productive when one
is at work, along with absence and disability," said Karen Seward, Senior Vice
President of Business Development and Marketing, Shepell-fgi.
    "Managers are on the front lines, now more than ever. They see what is
happening, but often feel reluctant or powerless to intervene. Too often,
organizations fail to fully use the tools at their disposal, including the
effective use of the manager supports and health promotion strategies
available from their Employee Assistance Program."

    Seward said organizations should do the following:

    1.  Establish preventative measures to include proactive promotion of
        EAP-based employee needs, both at the broader organizational level
        and at the workgroup level.

    2.  Establish regular and formal manager/supervisor training to identify
        and respond to declining productivity and changes in employee

    3.  Support managers and supervisors with absence data, and also absence
        trending data, so managers will know when to intervene when it comes
        to employee absence.

    4.  Support managers and supervisors with better and more consistent,
        return-to-work processes.

    "The survey data were interesting for a couple of reasons," added Paula
Allen, Vice President, Organizational Solutions & Training, Shepell-fgi. "We
set out to understand more about organizations' disability practices - what
was working, what wasn't. What we found was something even more basic. Not
only do organizations still seem to have a fragmented approach to managing
absence and disability, but many aren't measuring it at all, much less
equipping the very people they rely on to manage the problem with the tools
they need to stem the costs."

    About Shepell-fgi

    Shepell-fgi is Canada's leading provider of workplace health and
productivity solutions, including prevention-focused Employee Assistance
Programs, Health and Disability Management, Organizational Solutions, and
Training. The company serves over eight million employees and their families
across Canada, the United States, and internationally. Shepell-fgi helps
organizations maintain healthy employees and healthy workplaces.
    The Shepell-fgi Research group, a division of Shepell-fgi, has a mandate
to educate employers and business leaders on physical, mental and social
health issues as these factors impact employees, their families, and their
workplaces. The Shepell-fgi Research Group offers a precise understanding of
health and wellness trends by conducting sector and issue-based analysis.
Since 2002, the Shepell-fgi Research Group has published eighteen issue-based
reports and eight sector-based reports.

For further information:

For further information: or for a full version of the research brief,
please contact: Jerry Amernic, Phone: (416) 284-0838, Email:; Jennifer Watson, Director, Marketing & Product
Development, Shepell-fgi, Phone: (416) 355-5468, Email:

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