Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 443–455 | Cite as

Employee Retention and Integrated Disability Management Practices as Demand Side Factors

  • Rochelle Habeck
  • Allan Hunt
  • Colleen Head Rachel
  • John Kregel
  • Fong Chan


Introduction Demand-side employment research on company policies and practices related to retention and absence and disability management (ADM) can contribute to our understanding of employment issues related to people with disabilities from the employers’ perspective. Aim To examine company ADM and retention practices and their effectiveness, as well as how these company policies and practices might influence hiring of people with disabilities. Method Disability Management Employer Coalition employer members (N = 650) were surveyed by internet and the survey data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, correlation, and multiple regression. Results Ninety-five participants responded to the survey resulting in a response rate of 14%. Retention practice was found to be associated with retention effectiveness (r = .39, P < .01). Items most highly correlated with retention effectiveness address the provision of development opportunities to employees at every level, seeking the ideas and involvement of employees, and assuring they know how their work and performance support the mission. ADM practice was related to improving health and managing health conditions (r = .26, P < .05) and resolving disability and bringing back to work (r = .37, P < .01). Consistent RTW procedures (r = .21), employee-oriented culture (r = .23), safety/risk prevention (r = .21), and very early intervention (r = .21) correlated with delaying/preventing employment exits related to health impairment. Retention practice, ADM practice, retention effectiveness, ADM effectiveness and disability attitudes comprised a model to predict the hiring of people with disabilities. The six-predictor model was significant, F(6, 86) = 13.54, P < .001 and accounted for 49% of the variance in hiring. However, only the disability attitudes factor (β = .628, P < .001) was found to be significantly associated with hiring. Conclusions Findings substantiate a positive relationship among retention practices, ADM practices and outcomes. Both are associated with retaining employees who develop potentially disabling conditions; but they are not directly connected to hiring people with disabilities. These appear to be two different policy and practice issues within most companies.


Disability management Retention Absence management Return to work Demand-side employment Attitudes toward disability 



The authors wish to thank the leadership, staff, and employer members of the Disability Management Employer Coalition for their outstanding facilitation of and willing participation in this research. The development of this manuscript was supported by Grant No. H133B040011 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), US Department of Education. The opinions expressed are solely those of the authors. No endorsement on the part of NIDRR or the US Department of Education is implied.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rochelle Habeck
    • 1
  • Allan Hunt
    • 2
  • Colleen Head Rachel
    • 3
  • John Kregel
    • 3
  • Fong Chan
    • 4
  1. 1.Habeck & AssociatesKalamazooUSA
  2. 2.W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment ResearchKalamazooUSA
  3. 3.Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Workplace Supports & Job RetentionVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  4. 4.Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special EducationUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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