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Employee Return-to-Work Program

All employees are not the same. To keep your business going each day, do you find that you speak and approach each employee differently. That same method may hold true when you are working with employees to get them quickly and safely back to work after a worker’s compensation claim.

Return to Work Approach One Employee at A Time

Just as tasks and duties are matched to each employee so to should the return-to-work program. There are many different return-to-work programs that can be utilized. Matching the program to the specific employees’ personalities to get the most successful results. While one employee may respond well to several phone calls a week, another may find that to be too intrusive. Finding the balance is the key to getting employees back to work quickly, effectively and as a benefit to your business.

There are generally, primarily four different employee personality types ranging from fully satisfied to completely unsatisfied. The four types are:

Satisfied and Engaged: One who is happy and needs no prodding to return to work.

Satisfied and Non-engaged: One who is happy, but complacent with staying out of work.

Unhappy and Passive: One who is unhappy, but does not willfully concoct schemes to stay out of work. However, they may take advantage of the system to stay out longer than needed.

Unhappy and Active: One who is very unhappy with his or her situation and will actively attempt to take advantage of the system. This employee does not want to return, concocts schemes to stay out longer and is actively working on a plan to never return to work.

The majority of employees will fall under one of these description categories and will respond similarly to different return to work strategies. The key is to handle each situation according to the personalities of the employees.

Suit The Personality of the Employee

For example, a satisfied and engaged employee might be someone who has not missed a day of work in years, goes to company events, and is always looked to as a go-getter. A workers comp claim might be perceived as a setback to this type of individual and little interaction from the employer will be necessary in order to get him to return to work. In this case, a recommended strategy is to send a get well card and work in partnership to provide a productive transitional duty position. Employer actions in this case such as aggressive surveillance can have the opposite effect and make the employee unwilling to return to work. With a satisfied and non-engaged employee, a more interactive approach can be used. For example; inviting the employee to seminars or training events prior to the return. This will provide an introductory stage to the return-to-work program.

An engaged and unhappy employee in the same situation will require a completely different approach. This type of employee is usually trying to not return-to-work. Employers of engaged and unhappy employees will need to take a much more aggressive approach including devising and implementing fraud prevention measures, surveillance procedures, hiring investigators, and having frequent constant monitoring type contact with the employee. Without igniting the process of returning to work, the employee will stall it forever.


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