There are many benefits to employers for obtaining independent, objective vocational or functional assessments. These assessments may include vocational testing to assess specific job suitability or training potential and needs; or functional/ergonomic assessments to assess physical and emotional suitability and accommodation needs. If you consider that disability can account for anywhere from 4% to 12% of payroll costs in Canada, according to Stats Canada, the rationale for employers to take advantage of expertise in this area is evident.

The consequences of having an employee in the wrong job can be extreme. Employers who use vocational or functional assessments realize that the one-time cost of the assessment is a huge saving of time and money. Training an employee for a new position is a major investment for an employer and moving forward with a position that is a poor match could potentially take months to correct, affecting staff morale and of course the bottom line.

When employees go on sick leave for physical or emotional reasons related to their position or work environment, again the cost to employers is significant. Investing in functional assessments such as a Functional Demands Analysis (Physical or Cognitive) or Ergonomic Assessment will ensure the job is a good match functionally and that the employee has the accommodations and worksite changes required to avoid worsening of symptoms or a leave of absence. This type of assessment is also useful when an employee is returning to work to ensure the required changes are there to avoid re-injury or the need for more time off.

These assessments are brief and are conducted by qualified practitioners who give an objective opinion of the situation based on professional assessment criteria. Benefits are better job matches, training potential is clear, reduced absenteeism; injury prevention; faster return-to-work following symptoms, increased comfort and therefore increased productivity.

Vocational and functional assessments assist with prevention, on-going planning, appropriate accommodations, and mitigating risk, which are key areas of focus for employers. Today we understand that more focus on prevention leads to fewer days off and reducing disability claims. The end result for employers who consult with experts in this area will be improved health in the workplace and lower costs in this area.

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