Nearly one million individuals with disabilities received vocational rehabilitation services in 2016 — and over half of them subsequently found employment, according to the Rehabilitation Services Administration.
Putting people to work, including those with short-term disabilities, is one goal. Another is to help employers gain access to qualified workers. Although employers may incur limited costs when providing vocational rehab and workplace accommodations, doing so often pays dividends in the long-run, enabling you to hire and retain employees who help your business thrive.
What Is Vocational Rehab?
Vocational rehabilitation services are designed to help people with physical or mental disabilities prepare for, obtain, keep or regain a job. This includes individuals who have suffered on-the-job injuries and are trying to return to date-of-injury positions or to secure new jobs with comparable compensation. Vocational rehab includes a variety of services, from skills analysis and testing, job site assessment and accommodations and assistive technology and devices to vocational counseling and evaluation, resume and employment application assistance and training and education, along with job placement.
According to the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion, each state has a vocational rehabilitation agency funded by the United States Department of Education that serves all disability groups, helping individuals meet their own unique employment goals. These services enable individuals to pursue meaningful careers and achieve their maximum potential.
What Are the Benefits of Vocational Rehabilitation Services?
Employees benefit from vocational rehab because they’re able to pursue or regain employment as quickly as possible. And when employers invest in these services, they in turn benefit from increased employee satisfaction and retention. This equates to fewer dollars spent on hiring and training new staff. Employers that provide these services may also experience other benefits, including:
- Improved corporate image
- Improved productivity
- Reduced absenteeism
- Reduced insurance premiums
- Reduced litigation costs
- Reduced sick pay costs
In cases where a worker is injured on the job, these services can help that individual get back to work as soon as possible, restoring productivity and frequently resolving workers’ compensation cases in a timely manner.
That said, employers may incur costs for providing employee training, purchasing assistive technology (such as ergonomic equipment, hearing aids or voice-recognition programs) and rendering physical therapy (for employees with carpal tunnel syndrome or lower back pain, for example). However, many of these costs may be minimal when compared with the long-term benefits listed above.
What Are Signs That an Employee Could Benefit From Vocational Rehab?
There are several indications that an employee might be a good fit for these services. Consider the following questions:
- Did an employee recently sustain injuries on the job or outside of work?
- Is an employee frequently absent or not as productive as possible due to a chronic illness or pain?
- Did an employee recently undergo surgery?
Affirmative answers to questions like these mean that vocational rehabilitation services are worth looking into. They could be just what your employees need to make their fullest contribution to your business. And while vocational rehab may come with certain costs, the results can make it a true win-win.
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