Research Summary

Research Summary: Employee Retention and Integrated Disability Management Practices as Demand Side Factors

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A Quick Look

Due to the aging workface and the diminishing pool of qualified skilled employees, employers are using retention strategies to keep employees working at the job. Additionally, disability prevention and accommodation strategies and protocols increase health and productivity, which also extends retirement age or exiting the workforce due to a disability.

Furthermore, the combination of disability prevention and absence management with the best practices to recruit people with disabilities are believed to increase productivity and the various costs—public and private—associated with disabilities. The study’s aim is to understand the relationship between: retention practices and retention effectiveness; absence and disability management practices and effectiveness; absence and disability management practices and retention effectiveness; and retention, absence and disability management, and organizational climate toward hiring people with disabilities.

Key Findings

  • Mentoring and support of new hires, professional development across all levels of employment, career advancement opportunities, feedback and ideas are encouraged, and an overt connection between an employee’s job to the mission of the company are the 5 retention strategies most highly correlated to retention effectiveness.
  • The data suggests that retention practices are associated with the effectiveness of absence and disability management (ADM) in extending work life and overall retention.
  • ADM practices need to continue to develop and grow even in the most responsive and responsible companies.
  • Effective retention practices and ADM are associate with employees’ health, well-being, and retainment.

Putting It Into Practice

  • Managers often times do not rate the 5 most highly effective retention strategies as important. Creating opportunities for managers to reflect and learn about these areas would be beneficial.
  • Look for companies that have effective retention strategies and strong ADM practices because they are prepared to support and accommodate people with disabilities.
  • Avoid companies that do not have competent ADM practices because they do pose a risk for people with disabilities.
  • Keep abreast of the state, local, and federal laws that effect ADM.
  • Find companies that value employees, who have transparent return to work policies, provide accommodation trainings to managers, and who are proactive about disability risk.

Learn More

  • Results are based on a survey of a convenience sample of 650 members of Disability Management Employer Coalition. Descriptive statistics, correlation, and multiple regression were used to analyze the data.


Habeck, R., Hunt, A., Rachel, C.H., Kregel, J., Chan, F. (2010). Employee retention and integrated disability management practices as demand side factors. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 4, 443-455. doi:10.1007/s10926-009-9225-9.

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