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Liberty Mutual Survey: Employers Track Absence Data, Don't Use Information to Lower Costs

Posted on 17 May 2011

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Results from a Liberty Mutual survey of 300 human resource and benefits professionals show employers fail to leverage the absence data they collect to manage the bottom-line impact of employees being away from work.

When asked to rank absence-related issues of concern for their organizations, 53 percent of respondents ranked compliance with state and federal leave laws as of greatest concern; yet almost 50 percent did not know the cost of absence in their respective companies. Even among employers that outsource Family and Medical Leave Act administration, 46 percent did not know the cost of absence.

"It’s impossible to effectively manage a program and its related costs without knowing the impact on the organization," notes Heather Luiz, disability product manager for Liberty Mutual Group Benefits, the area of Liberty Mutual that provides group disability, life, and leave administration services. "While employers are clearly aware of how important it is to comply with leave regulations —and are therefore tracking these leaves—many haven’t taken steps to use the data they collect to proactively manage absence and control the total financial impact on their companies."

And that impact can be significant. In fact, absence costs employers $100 billion per year, according to 2009 data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Liberty Mutual has published a white paper—The Missing Piece of Absence Management—Turning Data into Dollars—highlighting these survey findings.

This whitepaper and associated digital resources on disability and absence management are now available on the insurer’s Disability Insurance Education Center website: .

"Employers already have the data in hand to remain compliant with state and federal regulations," notes Luiz. "We’re encouraging them to use this information to better understand and control the cost of absence in their companies."

The survey was conducted in April 2011.  Respondents were human resource and benefits executives and managers at companies with more than 500 employees, and represented a broad cross section of industries and geographic locations.