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Getting Your Injured Employee Back to Work

When an employee returns to work after an injury or illness, their employer’s support can vastly improve that employee’s recovery time. Returning to work can often be awkward for employees; they might be embarrassed about the event that caused their injury, or worried about getting hurt or sick again. There are a lot of factors that can impact an injured employee’s return to work, but your support as an employer will make their transition back into the workplace much easier. Here’s a couple tips that can help:

Know What’s Expected from You
As the employer, your job will be to coordinate the return-to-work process with the insurance payor and the provider from Worker Care, all while keeping the employee informed. While the payor and health care provider take care of developing an effective treatment plan, they will need information from you about specific workplace policies and job demands so that they can develop the best plan possible.

For example, if an employee is injured, you’ll need to inform them:

– What the employee’s official job description is.

– Whether transitional work is an option.

– What the employee does, and how it can be adapted.

– What the employee’s work environment is like.

– What support is available for employees returning to work.

By assisting with these steps, the employee will have a much better idea of what to expect, and can return to work in a safe and timely manner. Then, when the employee returns, you will need to ensure that the agreed upon plan is followed through.

Be Flexible
Flexibility is essential to provide a safe return to work for your employee. Their transitional period won’t last forever, but the workplace should manage some modifications to their job duties or hours before the injured employee is back to full function.

Even if a return-to-work plan has already been established, the modified work might seem too difficult for the employee at first. The mental and emotional struggles related to the injury can also hinder recovery. Help find a flexible arrangement that fits well with their lifestyle, but also meets the needs of their role and the business.

Keep in mind, being flexible doesn’t mean being a pushover. Show the injured worker that while you’re willing to support them throughout the recovery process, they still need to make progress toward resuming full work duties.

Communicate Often
Fear is a common obstacle to full recovery. The injured employee can fear re-injury, another accident, or unfair treatment from their co-workers. This is where you step in. Make it clear that you won’t hold the injury over the employee’s head, and that you don’t expect them to be fully recovered when they initially return to work. Communicate how you’ll work with them and Worker Care to make the transition safe and efficient.

This conversation shouldn’t be limited to just the injured employee either. Communication should extend to any members of the workforce affected by the employee’s return. Provide training to the employee’s supervisor or manager to help them understand their role in the return-to-work process, explain any policies in your employee handbook, and set the expectation in your workforce that employees will return to work as soon and as safely as possible.

Provide Resources and Adjustments
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations (aka necessary changes or adjustments to job duties) to a qualified employee – “qualified” meaning they have a physical impairment that keeps them from performing essential job functions.

Some examples of accommodations: an employee might just need a chair while working, an accessible ramp, or less time in front of a computer.

Stay Positive
Returning to work after an injury is a challenge for everyone involved, but it’s harder for the injured employee to feel confident upon return if their employer treats them negatively. Let your employee know how glad you are to have them back, how confident you feel about their potential for full recovery, and how supportive you’ll be throughout the transition. Being positive can aid in a smooth transition.

It can be a lot of work to get an injured employee back to full-time, so if you need any assistance or advice, please contact us. And if you don’t have a return-to-work policy established, please don’t hesitate to give Worker Care a call. We’re always happy to help assist employers getting their workforce back to full capacity.

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