Employees prefer disclosing health conditions to HR, rather than their boss
- Fifty-three percent of employees in a recent survey said they were scared to bring up their health condition with their direct supervisor, largely because they fear their supervisor will treat them differently. Only 29% said they feared disclosing their impairments to HR, the Standard Insurance Company survey found.
- The Standard found that employees who worked with their HR manager to manage a health condition received more consistent communications, workplace accommodations and connections to other support programs that helped them return to work sooner from leaves of absence.
- Those who took leave after working with an HR manager had a lower leave duration (59 days) than those who worked with their direct supervisor (77 days). The Standard said it attributes this finding to HR managers' awareness of additional resources that can help support employees in their return to work, including support from their disability carrier or an employee assistance program.
When employees need a workplace accommodation but don't feel comfortable speaking up, productivity suffers. Based on the survey's findings, employers may want to strive to create a culture where employees are supported through "health events," as The Standard calls them.
Next, employers can make sure that workers know they can come to HR with any health needs. Businesses also may want to require that managers who receive accommodation requests elevate them to HR, as the survey shows that HR may be more effective in implementing accommodations.
Finally, experts often recommend that both managers and employees receive regular training that makes clear that disability discrimination (and retaliation for exercising disability rights) is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and will not be tolerated.
Follow Kate Tornone on Twitter