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Claims Management

3 Key Functions of an All-Inclusive Return-to-Work Program

Collaboration is the key to a successful return-to-work program, which can lead to reduced costs and better outcomes. Here are three elements to include in your approach.

July 3, 2023

Ask yourself the following questions. Are you wanting to lower costs in your business? Are you wanting to reduce employee turnover and eliminate the time and cost of hiring a new employee? Do you agree that healthy employees lead to a healthy business? Yes? Now, answer the following questions. Do you have a solid return-to-work program when you have an injured worker? Do you assign a field nurse to assist the injured worker (and the adjuster) in the return-to-work process?

Studies show that when workers do not return to work as quickly as possible, they become increasingly unlikely to return later. To mitigate this potential outcome, it is important to design an effective return-to-work program that addresses the physical and emotional needs of the injured worker.

“A great initial approach is to consider what the injured worker’s current abilities are, rather than focusing on the current disability,” said Carol Franklin, Medical Manager at Safety National. “This perspective serves as a guide to creating a strong, solid, all-inclusive return-to-work program, which will help the injured worker with improved recovery, build up their stamina, and increase their mobility.”

Here are three elements to include in a collaborative return-to-work program:

1. Consider creating a hybrid approach. Have a flexible schedule and consider alternate duty jobs. Identify other locations where your injured worker would feel productive based on their current abilities. Be creative.

2. Consider work plans that are individualized. What are their current work abilities? Listen to the injured worker. They know their bodies better than anyone. Work with this injured worker and determine a plan that makes you both comfortable.

3. Consider obtaining feedback from all involved in the return to work for your injured worker. This would include involvement from your HR department, the injured worker’s supervisor, the injured worker, and the treating physician.

Once your plan is established, provide clear communication to anyone involved. This could include the employee, managers, your insurance carrier, healthcare providers and, if applicable, labor representatives. Provide these stakeholders with plan details and other additional key information.