If your company doesn’t already have a policy regarding a return-to-work program for employees who have been injured on-the-job, you should consider putting one in place. An effective program can show the returning employee you care about them and save your company millions of dollars in fines and penalties, as well as reduce workers’ compensation costs, retain your experienced employees, and improve morale and productivity in the workplace. That sounds like a winning combination, so let’s consider how to get this done…
Reach out to the injured worker and let him or her know that you care about their illness or injury. If all the proper forms haven’t been filled out, make sure you let them know what kind of paperwork they need to complete and where to send it. Once that’s been done, discuss the benefits with your employee and let them know what medical benefits they can receive while their claim is processing. Let them know their job will be there for them when they’re ready to return and stay in contact with them until that happens.
As we mentioned in a previous blog, cross-training your employees gives your staff skills that can help rescue productivity when someone is absent. It’s beneficial for the company and the employee when someone returns to work after a long absence if they’ve already been trained in another job that they may be able to perform more easily than their regular job. Likewise, if another employee knows how to do the returning employee’s duties, this benefits your company greatly by reducing downtime.
Either before your employee returns to work, or immediately upon their return, you should discuss with him or her the essential functions of their job, including whether it demands a lot of standing or lifting, or pushing or pulling. Once you have this in writing, talk about which functions your employee is comfortably able to perform, and which may need modifying. It may be that you will have to provide accommodation or remove a non-essential function of the job.
Better yet, develop a list of detailed, functional job descriptions before any of your employees have to miss time for an accident or injury. Use this information when you cross-train your employees, so that those who have more rigorous roles understand how to do the jobs of those with fewer physical demands.
When someone has been out for a while, returning to work can be a tough transition for them. Depending on what kind of injury or illness had them away from the job and how long they were gone, you may want to make some temporary concessions. You may be able to get your employee to return to work sooner if you offer more scheduled breaks (with the understanding that things will return to normal eventually), shorter workdays, or a part-time schedule.
Statistics show workers who stay out of work with a job-related injury for more than twelve weeks have less than a 50% chance of ever coming back (New York State Workers’ Compensation Board). So, it’s better to offer a relaxed schedule upon their return than it is to lose your employee altogether.
Hiring a new employee will cost your businesses roughly $4,100. The Society for Human Resource Management says it takes around 42 days to fill open positions. And during that time, either the work doesn’t get done, or other employees pitch in to pick up the slack. And if those workers aren’t compensated for the extra work, that can breed animosity in the workplace. It’s fiscally and energetically less expensive to invest in the employees you have than it is to find and train new employees.
Of course, the bottom line is important; it’s why you’re in business. If you’re not turning a profit, you can’t stay in business. If you go out of business, you have to lay off your staff. But, being respectful of your employees will also work for that bottom line. Show your employees they are your most important investment by treating them with respect.
At Normandy Insurance, we provide workers’ compensation that works for you. We make it easy to safeguard your employees and protect your business. Click here to get a quote if you want workers’ compensation insurance with no hidden fees and handled by experts in claims management.