At the 2016 DMEC Annual Conference, a panel talked about Walmart’s experience shifting to a vendor to manage their Accommodation Process. The speakers were:
- Herminio Vargas – Senior Manager Integrated Absence Management – Walmart
- Ben Cormack – Senior Manager Integrated Absence Management – Walmart
- Shawn Johnson – SVP Client Services – Sedgwick
According to a 2015 DMEC Leave Management Survey, 82% of employers manage their ADA accommodation process internally. In 2013 Walmart initiated a process to move their return to work accommodation process to Sedgwick. Today Sedgwick administers approximately 80% of Walmart’s program.
Walmart is the largest employer in the United States with over 1.4 million employees across over 5000 locations. They have over 6000 different job descriptions. There are 7 Walmart associates managing their accommodations program in addition to over 50 Sedgwick colleagues supporting the program.
The central goals of Walmart’s leave program are to:
- Provide reasonable workplace accommodations that enable disabled associates to safely and productively remain in, or return to, their current position.
- Provide accommodation leave when a qualified disabled associate needs leave as a reasonable accommodation.
- Provide job reassignment to a vacant position if the disabled associate cannot be accommodated in their current position.
Walmart’s goals in pursuing a vendor partnership for their accommodation program were to enhance the employee experience, provide management relief so their staff could focus on other duties, and to ensure ADA compliance.
Key considerations in selecting a vendor partner included:
- Flexibility to meet the needs of your business.
- Understanding your business.
- Openness to develop custom programs and training.
- Willingness to share software and other tools.
- Reporting capabilities.
- Ability to provide ongoing project management and support.
- Subject matter expertise.
- Commitment to innovation.
Utilizing a vendor partner to manage your ADA compliance can be very complex due to the level of coordination with other parties and the process of determining and providing reasonable accommodations. Walmart addressed these challenges by having a dedicated team for vendor support, having weekly team meetings with their partner, and training their partners so they better understood their needs. Walmart and Sedgwick worked together to develop an accommodation job process which included detailed accommodation tools and resources. They also created reference tools of job adjustments and job accommodations.
The lessons learned from this outsourcing exercise included:
- Develop detailed feedback look for escalations from associates, operations, and legal.
- Spend the time to develop reporting tools and metrics before implementation.
- When you believe you have trained enough, train more.
- Make sure there is role clarity between all parties.
- Develop a quality review process.
- Develop a process to make sure all program changes are well documented and understood.
- Trust and verify that training was effective and claims are being processed to expectations.