Small Business Brief


What Are the Benefits of Using a Return to Work Program for Employees?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nonfatal workplace injuries in the private industry were 2.8 million in 2017. Additionally, there were about 5,147 fatal workplace accidents in the same year. Injured or ill employees lose significant workdays.

Injured employees perform their jobs as required. However, it is often prudent to take back a worker after recovery. Some companies have a formal return to work program. 

Return to work programs have advantages for both employers and employees. If you’re considering implementing a return to work program, you’re in the right path. Here are undeniable benefits of back to work programs. 

1. Lowered Cost 

One of the benefits of a return to work policy is cost-saving for the company. Employers don’t need to consider new hires as it can be quite expensive. On the contrary, workers’ compensation is more cost-effective. 

If an employer doesn’t plan on a return to work strategy, hiring a replacement means an investment of money and time. You will have to go through a tedious and costly hiring process and possible training. Bringing the entrant up to speed might also take months, which will mean the company has reduced income.

On the flip side, the injured worker might not take too long to recover. You can consider part-time working or work-at-home as a cost-saving mechanism. Your employee can still contribute to the company’s success despite having to pay the worker disability benefits. 

2. Better Employee Engagement 

A return to work program improves employee engagement. Workers who are sure they will return to their jobs after an accident make better preparations. They feel more confident in their careers.

A return policy shows the extent to which the management values the workers. Consequently, employees feel empowered. It wouldn’t be surprising for such workers to feel engaged and to put more effort into their work.

You should consider a return to work program that has your team’s best interest. It would help to invest in software that makes the entire process easier. The benefits of this program will be worth every investment. 

3. Increased Employee Morale 

It can be devastating for employees to know they are as useful as long as they are healthy. Nobody would fancy the idea of being dismissed from a job due to illness or injuries. Yet, some employers prioritize immediate benefits and waiting for a worker to recover is almost untenable.

The best thing you can do for your trusted employees is being there in their time of need. An illness or injury leads to significant financial losses. You need to assure workers that they will have their jobs back when they are ready. 

Showing that you care will increase your workers’ morale. They will have more enthusiasm for their work. The seemingly small validation can be vital in enhancing trust and staff morale, which ultimately influences productivity.

4. Reduced Risk of Litigation

Most states have clear laws on how to go about employees injured at the workplace. Some employers dismiss employees, especially if they file a workers’ compensation claim. You need to make some adjustments to try accommodating an injured worker.

Failure to adhere to these laws can land you in trouble. If a worker gets an experienced workers’ compensation claim attorney, you might end up spending significantly in legal battles. To avert such scenarios, it would help to have a back to work program. 

Harassing the worker to leave the job can damage your reputation besides exposing you to possible lawsuits. A business owner must provide the right equipment and a modified schedule at work to suit an injured worker. You will lower the litigation risk, which can be costly for your company.

5. Lower Rate of Staff Turnover 

Within the next year, about 32% of employees won’t be in their current jobs. Turnover is too costly for a business. If you don’t have a proper return to work program, high turnover is imminent. 

Hiring employees increases the rate of staff turnover as new hires might find the tasks overwhelming or unfulfilling. It would help to strategize on how to go about retaining your current workers. Unless a worker is fully incapacitated after an accident, returning to work should be an employer’s priority.  

Turnover makes a company lose some of the most talented and experienced staff. Within a short while, the company will face reduced performance, ultimately affecting job productivity. It is crucial to ensure that your workers return to work after an accident as days off work can have debilitating impacts.

6. Return to Work Program Helps in Employee and Employer Alignment 

A workers’ comp return to work policy improves the alignment between an employer and employee. It is vital to have a business that has its values aligned with those of the workers. Consequently, employees experience more satisfaction in their roles.

The return to work policy is one way to demonstrate your company’s values. If you show support to your employees through such a policy, they will embrace consistent values. The result will be a company where the management and the staff work towards the achievement of an organization’s goals.  

Employers who don’t have a policy favoring workers such as a return to work plan might fail to appeal to their staff. If your workers can’t identify with your company’s value, you ought to re-strategize. You need to establish values that prioritize the well-being of your team.

7. Sustaining Social Connections 

In a typical work setting, employees spend more than 40 hours in the workplace. Therefore, workers tend to interact with their colleagues for a significant amount of hours throughout the week. Being away from work following an accident or sickness has adverse implications on social connections.

People can remain intentional in maintaining social connections if they’re confident they will return to their workplaces. These relationships make workers have a better sense of purpose. Once they return to work, it will be easier to resume the spirit of teamwork.

The relationship with your worker should be central. A return to work policy will ensure that you have continuous interaction with your team. This connection will guarantee that you have highly motivated and dedicated employees. 

8. Relieves Uncertainty and Stress

In three decades, employee stress levels have increased by 20%. Most of the polled workers reported increased cases of stress due to management. However, a significant number cited the threat of losing a job as a cause of stress and uncertainty.

If you don’t have a clear work return program, your employees might be working in uncertainty. They wouldn’t be sure if they can still be part of the organization after an accident. This insecurity can affect your team’s zeal. 

Employees who get into accidents might keep wondering how they will pay their bills if they don’t return to their jobs. One might be at crossroads on whether to job hunt or reach out to the boss. These worries can have negative impacts on a person who is recuperating.  

Creating a Return to Work Program 

Now that you’re familiar with the benefits of a return to work policy, implementing it in your organization should be the next step. You need to ensure that all team members support the program. Having a receptive culture is the first step towards having a successful return to work program.

You ought to notify all the stakeholders about the policy through informational sessions, emails, posters, and newsletters. Involving your team makes the program acceptable across the board.

Consider establishing job descriptions for each position. Highlighting the job duties makes it easier to draft an appropriate return to work programs. Clear job descriptions make it possible to assign tasks to workers who get into accidents. 

Your company needs to comply with federal and state laws on workers’ compensation. You need to be familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act and OSHA standards. With the guidelines set by the agencies, it will be possible to make reasonable accommodations. 

Communication is probably one of the essential elements when implementing a return to work policy. As an employer, it is vital to maintain contact with an injured worker. It would be great to assist your employees in filing a workers’ compensation claim. 

Continue supporting your worker after returning from recovery. Ensure that you adjust the job functions appropriately. More importantly, you need to foster a culture of safety to ensure that you don’t deal with constant cases of workplace accidents. 

A Return to Work Program Has Significant Benefits for You and Your Employees

Workplace injuries are not a new phenomenon. An injured employee faces social, emotional, and economic challenges. Further, the company experiences several setbacks after an employee suffers an accident that forces them to stay at the hospital or home.

Return to work programs allows workers to reintegrate into an organization in a planned way. A return to work program can help a company and the employee in the issue. You will save costs and maintain your top talents.  

If you don’t have a back to work program, it’s high time to consider one. The benefits of the policy are worth the investment. 

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