Return to Work Strategies (RTW) to Make it Easier for Employees to Return to Work

Every year, workplace injuries cost US companies more than $55 billion and the most common type of accident is overexertion related to lifting, pushing, carrying, throwing, or holding. If you have employees who often do physical work, their injuries can significantly hurt your bottom line.

Employee injuries have a further financial impact on your company if you don’t have concrete RTW strategies. An RTW, or return to work program, provides a concrete plan for your employees to return to work in a capacity that is approved by their doctor.

Read on to learn more about how to create a return to work policy for your company.

Establish a Written Policy

Your HR department should have a clear RTW plan in place that is written down and available to employees. The policy should detail the process your employees should use when on leave, how and when they should contact HR and their supervisors when it’s time to return to work, and what sort of documentation they may need to return to work.

You might even consider creating an RTW coordinator position, especially if your organization is large. This person can handle all RTW plans and make sure all company policies are followed.

Get Managers On Board

A written policy is useless if the only people who know about it or buy into it are HR professionals. A successful RTW program will have buy-in from managers who will be on the frontlines of implementing the plan when employees return.

Updated Job Descriptions With Physical Requirements

Job descriptions should include the physical requirements of the position. If they don’t, it’s time to update them. If they are up-to-dated, your employees can take them to their doctor who can indicate which tasks they can and cannot do when they return to work.

Plan Ahead

What an employee will do when they return to work should be figured out well in advance. Don’t wait until the day they come back to work to try and figure this out. Bringing employees back to work, even if it is in some modified capacity, is one of the best ways for organizations to save money.

Alternative work assignments could be a combination of their traditional job duties, depending on what they are able to do, and special projects that need to get completed but have been put on the backburner.

This article helps explain the need for a clear RTW program.

Be Flexible

Returning full-time might not be feasible after time off due to a workplace injury. Be flexible in their return and allow them to come back part-time or on a modified schedule if necessary. The last thing you want to do is push them more than they are ready for resulting in another injury.

Get Other Employees on Board

If you don’t have an RTW coordinator, make sure the employees who will be working with the returning employee know what their new duties are, how long the modified duties will exist, and what they can do to make the process go smoothly.

RTW Strategies for an Effective Transition Back to the Workplace

RTW strategies should strive to benefit the company and the employees. A clear and effective RTW program can reduce the costs of employee injuries while also getting employees back to work in whatever capacity they are able.

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