The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported over 882,700 injuries in 2017 resulting in lost workdays. These lost workdays place an immense strain on businesses who are left scrambling to fill spots left open by injured workers, and keep up with productivity levels. Businesses that do not know how to properly handle employee injuries can run the risk of losing talent, opening themselves up to legal actions, and increasing operational costs. One of the best methods to help mitigate these risks is to implement a Return to Work Program to help injured employees get back on the job as soon as possible, within the guidelines set by medical professionals. This article will explain what exactly a Return to Work Program is and what benefits it provides to businesses from small too large. Let’s jump right in.
What is a Return to Work Program?
A Return to Work (RTW) Program is a workers' compensation-related program allowing employees who are injured on the job to perform their usual duties in a temporary, limited, or light-duty capacity while recovering. Employees who are disabled due to a work-related injury can be brought back to the workplace in a modified capacity or put in an alternative role until able to return to full duty. The overall goals of a return to work program are to lower costs related to employee injuries, keep injured employees engaged, and lower the risk of injured workers seeking legal representation due to adverse feelings related to their injuries.
What are the Benefits of a Return to Work Program?
Lowered Risk of Litigated Claims
Human resource, safety, and risk management professionals all know that communication is key when it comes to taking care of injured employees. There is no worse situation than an injured employee sitting at home all day with no communication from their employer on the plans to get them back to work. These situations increase the risk of injured workers becoming represented by workers' compensation lawyers which can make the employee returning to work a drawn-out and complex process. Return to Work Programs can help mitigate this legal risk by actively communicating a plan to get injured employees back to work in some capacity, whether it be light duty or part-time work. Keeping employees off the couch and back at work is the best way to keep workers' compensation claims free from legal barriers which increase costs and lower employee morale.
The more time employees spend away from their jobs the lower their motivation to return post-injury. A Return to Work Program helps keep employee morale and engagement high, which lowers the risk of employee turnover. An injured employee who does not return following an injury costs companies in more ways than one. Not only is the company still responsible for covering medical treatments related to the former employee’s injury(s), but the company must also replace the lost resource which disrupts productivity. Return to Work Programs that keep employees engaged help maintain lower turnover levels. This has a direct impact on the business’s performance and profitability.
A Return to Work plan gives injured employees the ability to contribute to the business while they recover. Even in light-duty capacity employees can contribute to their current role or be assigned a new role where productivity is not hampered. A solid Return to Work policy will get injured employees assigned somewhere within the organization where they can play a part in helping the business achieve its objectives. This greatly improves employee morale and helps prevent productivity losses. Lost productivity can be detrimental to any business, increasing costs and squeezing profit margins. In industries where profit margins may already be thin, lost productivity due to injured employees can cause significant damage to the bottom line. Return to Work Programs improve employee morale and productivity, help protect profit margins, and allow businesses to stay on target when it comes to their financial goals.
Return to Work policies and plans are a critical component of any organization's health & safety program. These processes outline plans to get injured employees safely back to work as soon as possible, in any capacity which can help the organization. They also help avoid situations where employees lose motivation or become frustrated with how their employer is handling their medical recovery. Employees are the most important asset to any organization and business leaders must make a concerted effort to put in place programs to keep these valuable human assets safe, secure, and happy. Return to Work Programs are a great resource to help businesses keep their workers engaged and assisting the business in meeting its strategic objectives for many years to come.
If your business needs assistance when it comes to implementing a Return to Work Program, please contact Work-Fit to see how our services can help your organization today!