Absence Management

5 Reasons You Need a Return to Work Program

Ella Baker
5 Reasons You Need a Return to Work Program
Reading time 6 Mins
Published on Jul 13

Helping your injured employees rejoin your workforce sooner

Your employees are your most important asset. By facilitating the earliest return of injured workers to the workplace, you are setting up both your employees and your business for success. Providing return-to-work (RTW) programs allows you to retain valued employees and enhance the productivity of your workforce. RTW programs are an essential part of a business’ strategy for long-term employee retention and workers’ compensation management. Here are five reasons you need an RTW program at your company.

What is a return-to-work program?

RTW programs are a means of returning injured employees back to active employment as soon as possible, while allowing for job modifications or alterations that take into account each workers’ unique injury. By accommodating the restrictions imposed by your employee’s doctor, you are facilitating the safe and timely return of workers to the job, while minimizing their number of lost work days.

Retain experienced workers

It’s always a little scary when an employee is injured. As a business owner, you have to worry about not only the health and safety of each employee, but also the continued vitality of your business. Losing an experienced worker can mean serious shakeups to the productivity and effectiveness of your business. RTW programs can help you retain experienced workers, instead of losing them to permanent disability or another company.

Injured workers who remain out of the workforce for six months have a 50 percent chance of ever returning to gainful employment. At one year, the likelihood of returning to the workforce falls to 10 percent. You employees receive temporary total disability payments while out of the workplace, but these are a fraction of their regular pay and may only contribute to a sense of helplessness and listlessness that prevents their ever returning to work.

Getting your injured employees back into active employment as soon as they are released for light or modified duty by their physician gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to their long-term health and recovery and to retaining experienced employees. In business few things are as valuable as skill and experience. Don’t let injuries mean the permanent loss of your most valued employees.

Reduce Turnover

Hand-in-hand with retention, RTW programs allow you to reduce turnover amongst your staff. This reduction in turnover also helps you avoid the cost of hiring and training new or replacement workers, a process that can prove costlier to your bottom line and morale than you know.

A successful RTW program can result in decreased turnover throughout your company, not just of employees who experience an injury. RTW programs demonstrate a commitment to your employees and their well-being that helps to build employee engagement and loyalty. The risk of staff turnover decreases with the tenure and building a rapport and supportive working environment can help you ensure that your employees stay with you long-term.

Better employee relations

RTW programs are a concrete means for you to show your employees that you care about their welfare. By offering them greater odds of successfully returning to work, you are providing injured workers an opportunity to reconnect with their career and their colleagues. That kind of commitment to your employees will pay off in improved employer-employee relations.

Too often, workers are made to feel like cogs in the wheel that drives the production of a company. By showing your employees that they are valued and appreciated, you are able to foster an environment that creates a better overall work environment. Employees will feel more comfortable coming to you or their managers when they have a problem or see potential safety issues because they will know that you have their best interests in mind.

Better productivity

It may seem obvious, but an injured worker in the office is more productive than one that is at home on temporary total disability. Your employees want to help contribute to your company – that’s why they chose to work for you. RTW programs offer them the ability to return to gainful employment while contributing to the overall success of the company, even if it’s not in their pre-injury role.

The knowledge and experience of injured employees can be useful and vital in other areas of your company, giving new insights into areas of your business that you may not have previously considered. In construction for example, an injured construction worker may be able to offer valuable insight into how your estimators can better draft bids for new projects that take into account factors that the estimator may not be aware of because that person isn’t involved in the day to day physical labor of the company.

Reduced costs

Monetarily, the largest benefit of RTW program is the reduction in costs of workers’ compensation benefits. The longer an employee remains out on disability, the more money is being paid to them through the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and the more experienced modification points your company accrues, which translates into higher premiums.

In the first 12 weeks of missed work, the BWC pays temporary total disability (TTD) benefits at a rate of 72 percent of your injured employee’s full weekly wage, subject to statewide maximums for the injury year. After the first 12 weeks, BWC may pay 66 2/3 percent of an injured worker’s average weekly wage, based on the employee’s last 52 weeks of income prior to injury.

Once back in the workplace, your employee will begin drawing their regular salary again, so you’ll no longer be racking up costs with the BWC. Your employees benefit by drawing their regular salary, rather than a fraction of it through the BWC. These two factors make RTW programs a win-win financially for both you and your employees.

RTW and Sheakley

Getting your valued employees back to work as soon as possible can mean significant cost savings for your company and retention of experienced workers. An effective and well-managed RTW program can help you achieve those goals. Sheakley’s workers’ compensation experts can help you develop and administer your RTW programs, taking each individual injured workers’ needs into account along the way.

Claim your no-cost analysis today from a member of the Workers’ Compensation team. Stay up-to-date on all things Sheakley by subscribing to our blog and following us on social media. Join in the discussion by commenting below.

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