3) Create A Return To Work Workflow Guide
Return to work program improvement number three is to have a workflow document that is circulated to all employees and hopefully updated on an as needed and regular basis.
What this workflow document does is explain exactly what happens when an employee gets injured, what the process is for both notifying for initial notifications, getting that injured employee taken care of immediately, and then the process of bringing them back into the business, and timetables for what that may look like.
Again, with every injury, with every employee, situations are going to vary, so this isn’t a set in stone type of document, but it certainly gives everyone from peers to management an understanding of the process and what should be expected and the various stages that an injured employee is going to go through, both from the time of injury to the time they come back to a modified function, to backed up, to full operational employment.
Again, it’s all about creating a culture where people are understanding of injuries and accepting of employees coming back into the business at different time tables with different percentages of full functionality and it limits animosity.
It limits frustration and misunderstanding and helps facilitate communication inside your company.
4) Include Supervisors In Return To Work Planning
Return to work program improvement number four is get the supervisors of that employee, any supervisor who’s going to be working with that injured employee when they come back on a modified basis, get them involved in the re-acclimation process as early and as thoroughly as possible.
You want them to understand what this person’s injury is, what things they’ll be doing when they come back.
Maybe they have some input into how that person can be as productive as possible while still operating inside the nature of their injury.
By getting supervisors on board early and often, you get their buy-in, you get their input, and you ultimately turn them into ambassadors for that injured employee as they start to re-acclimate into your business.
5) Early Contact With Injured Workers
Return to work program improvement number five, contact the employee early with an understanding of what their injury is.
Obviously different injuries are going to give people time depending on the type of injury. But as soon as is appropriate, reach out to that employee, get a feel for how they are, let them know that the organization is thinking about them, considering them.
Let them know that the organization wants them back in and is going to help them as much as they can become part of the business again.
When you’re injured, oftentimes all that you want is to get your life going again, and you don’t want to be sitting at home. You want to be part of the team.
You want to feel like you have purpose and meaning.
When a company can reach out early and let that employee know that they want them back in a very appropriate way, it improves the process in general because everyone gets aligned and starts pushing in the same direction.
6) Have A Return To Work Program Owner
Return to work program improvement number six, have a return to work program owner, someone who just owns this process, all these documents that we’ve talked about, all these communications, whether it’s someone in the HR function, someone in the management function.
For smaller organizations, this may be something that is part of someone’s job.
Maybe they’re a team, maybe there’s a committee that handles return to work stuff. It all depends on how frequently injuries happen at your place of work, but maybe a committee gets all the documents initially done and then an individual is able to handle things on an ongoing basis.
But having someone or a group of people who are responsible for this program greatly improves its effectiveness and efficiency.
7) Information Exchange With Healthcare Provider
The last return to work program improvement number seven is having information exchange and open comms with healthcare providers, regardless of what type of care is being done for that injured employee, that injured worker, understanding who their doctors are, who their physicians are, who their healthcare providers are, being able to exchange information with them, get them any documents they need, and vice-versa, understanding what that person is capable of, helping understand what their limitations are.
These types of communications greatly improve the process as a whole because there’s no misunderstanding as to what a worker is capable of.
It also reduces any potential adversarial nature in these relationships.
Again, it’s all about creating a culture of acceptance, understanding, get people pointing in the same direction.
From our experience here at Rogue Risk, in the vast majority of cases, what everybody wants, the injured employee, the business, healthcare providers, family members, what everyone wants is to get that injured worker back to 100% of their job functionalities as quickly as possible, and having a smooth, consistent, documented return to work program can get that done for everyone.
I know this is complex stuff. I know it seems like a lot. I hope it helps you.
Please download that sample worksheet that I suggested above.
If your current insurance professional has never addressed issues such as total cost of risk or return to work programs with you before, then I’d encourage you to reach out to us today.
I look forward to introducing you to a new way of viewing your insurance program.