The approach that software giant Microsoft Corp. (with 46,000 employees domestically) has to employee behavioral risk is exemplary, as revealed in an interview with Teresa Melcher, senior manager for U.S. benefits.
The company has integrated the oversight for many programs into one unit, responsible for the strategy, design and end-to-end management. These programs include disability management, leave of absence, time-off, workers' compensation, safety compliance, parenting, employee assistance, severance and unemployment administration.
The scope of services is also very broad. Parenting programs, for instance, include day-care discounts, family backup care, summer camps and, per Melcher, "many more." The employee assistance program even runs marital counseling classes.
The employee assistance program is well used--with a 10 percent to 11 percent participation rate among workers. Microsoft is benchmarking with EMPAQ (Employer Measures of Productivity, Absence, & Quality). Organized by the National Business Group on Health, EMPAQ compares employers, apples to apples.
The software giant uses a mix of internal resources for managing some programs like short-term disability, and also uses up to 15 vendors for other aspects of the program, such as employee assistance, workers' comp and long-term disability.
Melcher's team is always on the lookout for better tools to manage presenteeism and absenteeism. One focal point: better ways to work with psychological causes of lost-time claims. Melcher, originally in the employee recruitment field, has been with Microsoft for 11 years. She migrated from recruitment to managing leaves of absence, and then was promoted into her current job.
June 1, 2007
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