It’s a hard truth: according to the National Safety Council, workplace injuries cost more than $200 billion per year and account for 60 million lost days. As startling as these stats are, though, they don’t add in the negative effect that an on-the-job injury can have on the wellbeing of the affected worker, other employees, and your entire company.
That’s why it’s critical for small businesses to help injured employees return to work as soon as possible. Here are five concrete steps you can take to help speed up recovery, reduce costs, and get your employee back to work sooner.
Prioritize health, first and foremost
Connecting your injured employee to the best care possible not only shows that you care, but can also speed up recovery time. By working closely with insurance providers and connecting the employee with experienced healthcare providers, you can help ensure they receive the right care, at the right time. This will also help avoid any hiccups in their recovery and provide the support and resources they need.
Create a dedicated return-to-work (RTW) program
When you have efficient processes and plans in place, a workforce injury doesn’t need to be a time of panic. A return-to-work (RTW) program built on research-based medicine, consistent communication between workers, providers, and employers—as well as a thorough assessment of worker accommodations and training—can help you and your employees get back to business as usual.
Communicate often and with empathy
Remember: despite the additional stressors a workplace injury may place on your business, your employee is the one actually experiencing the injury. They may be concerned about how the injury will affect their future job security or performance—and stresses like these can hinder recovery. Make sure you communicate regularly with your injured employee and with their claims case manager. You may even consider sending cards and updates that emphasize how much they are missed back at work.
Turn to the experts
Workers compensation (WC) claims are complicated and require expertise. Rather than trying to figure everything out yourself, turn to your insurance provider to help with managing an injured worker’s claim. A provider with a strong understanding of your operation and industry may even be able to help identify temporary jobs or collaborate with medical providers on unique return-to-work opportunities.
Embrace the transition
Keep in mind that returning to work isn’t an all-or-nothing event. Instead, you may need to embrace the spirit of adaptability that comes with any complicated transition. Your injured employee may return to work slowly, or only return to certain tasks at certain times. You may need to modify their environment or specific processes to accommodate their new needs. It may even require a role change to something less physically demanding until they achieve full recovery. Regardless of the situation, prepare yourself to be flexible.
Taking the right steps after a workplace injury isn’t just beneficial to your employee — it’s essential to your business’ bottom line. Don’t wait until an injury happens to develop clear processes that prioritize the health of your employee and the future health of your small business. For more details on helping injured employees transition back to work, check out our return-to-work infographic.
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