Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that job accidents cause about three million injuries to US workers each year. Whereas some were found to be minor cases, one-third and above were deemed risky, requiring the victims to seek primary medical treatment. In such cases, a worker will require enough sick leave days to get the needed medical care, after which they’ll have to resume work. (1)
This return-to-work period can be very challenging. Many people may find it difficult to focus again and meet their daily targets. As an employer, there are ways you can support such workers to improve their recovery process. This builds a good relationship between you and your staff and contributes to their excellent performance.
With that in mind, below are four ways to support an employee returning to work after an injury.
Develop a medical recovery plan
Your role as an employer in return-to-work care extends to developing an effective medical recovery plan. This requires the joint efforts of the injured worker, insurance company, physician, and you as the employer. There are health clinics like myMatrixx that you can partner with to ensure the victim receives maximum support in their journey to full recovery. A medical recovery plan is vital because:
- It ensures constant monitoring of your worker’s health progress
- The victim gets access to professional medical advice in case of any concerns
- You can know when your worker is fit to resume full duty
- It helps your employee regain self-trust and confidence in the workplace
- Your worker learns about safe work practices
That said, having a plan ensures a smooth recovery.
Modify the assigned duties
Depending on the severity of the injury, a worker is highly likely to be less productive during the early stages of recovery. Before your worker regains enough strength, it’d be best to reduce the workload and working hours to spare them some resting time. You can even start by giving them transitional work for a specific period before restoring them to their regular duties.
Also, keep in mind that the injured staff may have medical restrictions as the doctor can advise the victim to avoid some tasks. In that case, you should assess the nature of the tasks you intend to assign them and determine whether these conform with the doctor’s recommendations. If your employee can’t totally do their original job, consider doing a job rotation for alternative work. This allows the worker to perform in a different capacity rather than becoming unemployed.
Communicate with the victim
Communication is critical during the return-to-work period as this is the best way to understand your worker’s needs. It’s natural for a victim to develop the fear of another injury. This is where you come in as the employer. Communicate with your worker about their safety and how best to prevent work-related injuries. That includes:
- The safety concerns
- The safety precautions you have put in place to reduce exposures to risk
- The need for safety training programs
- The strategies the worker can propose to help them feel safer (2)
Remember, this isn’t a one-time conversation, so try to conduct enough meetings to determine how well the victim is progressing. These conversations should also involve other colleagues as they interact daily. Let them know their role in this transition process. Also, note that many injured workers experience mental and emotional struggles, especially when they encounter tragic accidents. Therefore, it’s advisable to have a professional counselor in the workplace in cases of trauma.
Provide the essential resources
Depending on the type of injury, you might have to provide specific items in the workplace that are convenient for the injured. For instance, in case of physical impairments, you should support the worker by providing equipment like comfortable chairs, an accessible ramp, and other relevant accommodations.
Also, you may need to step in and provide financial help in the form of an advance or partner with the bank for a loan. Financial support is crucial, mainly if the injury contributed to a tremendous loss of income. Depending on the line of duty, some employers are required by labor organizations to have work injury compensation schemes to provide benefits to workers in case of an occupational injury. This mainly applies to high-risk jobs like construction, mining, military, and transportation of heavy machinery. (3)
Injuries can take a toll on your employees, and they might have a hard time when they return to work. As you want your workers to remain productive, it’d be best to support them in their recovery journey until they’re back to full action. You can do that by developing a treatment plan, modifying duties, communicating with them, providing the essential resources, and arranging training programs. By doing this, you’ll create a conducive working environment that motivates your workers to explore their full potential even after an injury.
- “How to Avoid Workplace Injuries”, Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-avoid-workplace-in_b_9858238
- “How to Maintain Workplace Safety”, Source: https://www.wikihow.com/Maintain-Workplace-Safety
- “Occupational Injury”, Source: https://www.britannica.com/science/occupational-injury