Did you know that there are millions of non-fatal injuries each year? That pans out to be about 3.2 injury cases per 100 employees — and that’s not even including the events that happen outside of the workplace. As if that wasn’t shocking enough, the report also noted that an injured employee is nearly 50% less likely to stay after six months if they do not get back to work.
The solution to these problems lies in having a solid return to work program. Here is an overview of what it is, the advantages your business will gain by having one in place, and how outsourcing your return to work program can be your best option.
What is a Return to Work Program?
A return to work program is an essential solution to getting injured employees back to work safely, efficiently, and promptly. It consists of close collaboration between employers, employees, and their physicians to ensure that the employee can return as soon as possible without sacrificing their health and safety.
This will reduce the chances of your injured employees moving on to different opportunities while showing that you still care about their healing and wellbeing. Its most significant importance lies in reducing the impact and hardships an injury has on both employees and employers. This way, disruptions at work and employee distress are minimized.
Return to work programs often include:
- A written policy consisting of short-term responsibilities adjusted to fit temporary limits due to injury, documents needed to return, payroll information, the roles of everyone involved, etc.
- Have all the forms (incident report, Functional Abilities Form (FAF) with cover letter for healthcare providers, and Offer of Accommodation) you need ready for signing, including important information like start date, work hours, the timeline for accepting the agreement, etc.
- A clear and transparent process for reporting injuries, such as who, how, and when to contact a leader. This helps reduce the time employees are delayed or away from work and can even minimize confusion that sometimes causes employees to leave their positions.
What are the Advantages of a Return to Work Program?
No business wants to believe it’ll happen to them, but the truth is, injuries can impact any business — even those where it is low-risk. It can happen in or outside the workplace. Either way, you need a plan of action to keep your company running smoothly.
Like Winston Churchill once said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”
Here are the advantages of planning ahead with a solid return to work program for employees that get injured.
Minimize Workers’ Comp Costs
A workers comp claim impacts premiums through loss history. Getting cases resolved quickly will play a significant role in reducing worker compensation costs.
Employees are more likely to stay when they aren’t stuck at home when injured. Getting them back to work as soon as possible is key to retaining your injured staff and decreasing employee turnover. This may not mean putting them back to their typical duties, but it can include short-term responsibilities that are ideal for their current limitations and circumstances. These duties are often referred to as ‘transitional duties’ and can be a great way to boost productivity and contribution.
Having an RtW program in place increases employee morale by getting injured employees back to work and being productive. Staying home can deter their motivation and feelings of importance at work, which can also deter their healing process. On the other hand, being at work and contributing as much as possible can help boost their confidence. In fact, 80-90% of workers prefer to get back to work over staying home to collect disability.
Having an employee on light duty is more productive than having that employee be paid to stay at home. They can also take the stress off a new hire who is temporarily helping with the injured employee’s position. Even more importantly, light duties can take the pressure off current staff working overtime to make up for the employee’s responsibilities while injured.
Creates a Sense of Normalcy
When employees are back at work, they can get into their regular routines and habits. Being at home can create a new normal for employees that encourages them to consider opportunities outside your company. On the other hand, coming into work while transitioning back to their normal responsibilities will enable them to stay.
It also makes things more normal for co-workers who are used to seeing the employee, allowing them to continue to build connections that keep your staff happy and loyal to the company. One study even found that 62% of workers would reject a job offer because they have one to five friends at work.
Should you outsource your Return to Work Program?
Whether you should outsource your return to work program depends on the ROI of outsourcing RtW versus structuring and maintaining an RtW program in-house. The ROI for HR outsourcing rises as it becomes more comprehensive. The most comprehensive HR outsourcing solutions have an average ROI of 27.2%.
A Return to Work program is a crucial component of any business. It prepares you and your employees for those unexpected injuries no one can foresee and ensures that returning your employees to work is as seamless and efficient as possible. A great Return to Work program can minimize worker comp costs, increase productivity and morale, reduce turnover, maintain normalcy in the workplace, and more!