PHILADELPHIA, January 18, 2012 - Every year, more than three million American workers take family and medical leave because of difficulty with chronic conditions such back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome1. As part of Cigna's ongoing effort to help customers prevent injury or illness and stay healthy on the job, the company created the Vocational Support Services program. The program can help people prevent future workplace absences or make it easier for employees to return from medical leave sooner.
The Vocational Support Services program is available at no additional cost to employers who use Cigna Leave Solutions®. By monitoring medical leave requests and claims for employees currently on leave, Cigna can proactively identify individuals who may benefit from assistance. Once an employee voluntarily joins the program, a nationally-certified Cigna vocational counselor evaluates an employee's capabilities, the required job functions, and the working environment. The counselor then coordinates with both the employee and the employee's manager to create a personalized plan, which can include workplace accommodations, such as providing ergonomic equipment.
"It's not uncommon for employees to report musculoskeletal issues, such as back pain, and then because of the nature of their job, to request intermittent time off from work," said Dr. Robert Anfield, chief medical officer for Cigna's disability programs. "However, time away from work doesn't always resolve the underlying health issue. A preventive, hands-on approach can direct the customer into the right program or supply the kind of equipment needed to avoid a longer absence."
NextEra Energy, a leading clean energy company, employs approximately 15,000 people with varying job characteristics - from sedentary to standing, and from lifting heavy equipment to sitting at workstation typing on a computer.
"At NextEra Energy, we take the health and well-being of our employees very seriously. That's one driver of our business' success," said Alyssa Coleman, Benefits Consultant, NextEra Energy. "Employees who are healthy are more productive, which in turn improves their ability to deliver excellent customer service. Cigna's Vocational Support Services help us by identifying employees who can benefit from this type of counseling, and makes recommendations to prevent injuries that might lead them to miss work."
NextEra Energy used Cigna's Vocational Support Services to help employees achieve greater comfort in performing their daily work responsibilities. Best of all, the accommodations paid for by Cigna helped employees avoid a leave of absence to help deal with their condition.
As an example of the program's strengths, a power line crew foreman was diagnosed with cancer and hypertension, and had had a surgical hernia repair. His job requires prolonged standing and he experienced fatigue and pain in his feet. A Cigna vocational counselor recommended a standing mat and insoles for his work boots. The counselor also advised the customer to take microbreaks and perform regular stretching during the work day, as well as making sure he uses proper lifting techniques. As a result of these simple actions and vocational counseling, the customer reported less fatigue and felt much more comfortable performing his duties.
Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, and other related products including group disability, life, and accident coverage. Cigna has sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, with approximately 70 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit www.cigna.com.
1 US Department of Labor RFI - FMLA 2007 Update; 2 - U.S. Census Bureau, December 2005