Many psychosocial strategies can be used to bring a growing caseload of injured workers in need of return to work plans under control.
From tailoring the return to work program to the individual’s preference to engaging the worker in the workplace to supporting the supervisor in engaging with the worker, the goal is to get away from the standard medical treatment approach and focus on individual needs and outside influences.
1. Tailoring the return to work program to the individual’s preferences
Sit down with the client and ask them what they like most about their job.
- Find out what they value in their teammates, company, or working environment.
- You should also ask them what they think they’re good and what they’re interested in pursuing.
- Similarly, you should find out if there’s anything they don’t like about their job.
2. Engaging the worker in the workplace
Spend some time assessing the workplace to determine valuable ways the worker can continue to support the team and the business.
- Ask the supervisor about jobs on the to-do list that haven’t been completed because of lack of extra hands.
- Get a calendar of team meetings and social events the worker can continue to attend.
- Find ways to keep the worker engaged with the team and to demonstrate the worker’s value to the company.
3. Supporting the supervisor in engaging with the worker
Be sure to check in with the supervisor to make sure they’ve been keeping in contact with the worker and will continue to do so.
- Have them outline a full communication and engagement plan.
- Make sure the supervisor is inviting the worker to any activities the rest of the team is participating in.
- Present the worker’s incapacitation as a benefit to the supervisor by demonstrating the worker’s ability to help with menial tasks that have been overlooked for too long.
Why are these such important aspects of return to work programs, and how can they help bring your caseload under control?
What if a worker’s favourite part of his job was to chat with his friends at lunch and leave at 3pm to pick up his children from school?
If the return to work plan has him arriving at 1pm and leaving at 5pm, it will likely hinder motivation.
A better plan would be having him arrive and leave at times that fit his preference.
The amount of hours worked will be the same, but the motivation is much higher.
This helps him move through the plan more quickly, thereby shortening the timeline of your case.
And you wouldn’t have known about those favourite parts of his job if you didn’t take the time to learn his individual preferences to build them into the plan.
Similarly, what if a professional athlete is injured? Do they just stay at home to recover?
Of course not. They’re sitting on the bench at every game - they attend every training season.
They support their team and remain involved. The same should hold true for injured workers. Even if the worker cannot perform all their duties, there is plenty they can do to remain engaged, and you need to take steps to ensure that engagement is happening.
Finally, lack of communication is seen as lack of care.
When a worker is injured and the supervisor assumes the worker doesn’t want to be bothered at home, they’re sending the message they don’t care about the worker returning to the job, or worse, they don’t care about the worker as a person.
The truth may simply be the supervisor isn’t sure they should call or what they should say, so you should encourage them to take the leap and help them navigate the conversation.
All these strategies have obvious benefits for the client, but benefiting the client benefits you. The better the return to work plan, the more manageable your caseload.
In an industry where the biggest hurdle is the growing number of lengthy caseloads, failure to maximise your efficiency is not an option.
Want to share your workplace health and wellness expertise? Join our LinkedIn Group.