How to Help a Sick or Injured Employee Return to Work

Posted on

June 26th, 2018


woman in wheelchairWhen an employee is absent for an extended period due to an illness or injury, how their employer handles their return to work is critical. Mismanagement of an employee’s recovery process can lead to a delayed return and relapses. Employees may be anxious about returning to work or feel worried about falling ill again. How an employer communicates with the employee during an extended absence can make or break the employee’s return to work.

The Employer’s Responsibility to the Employee

Employers may think their job is done when they finish processing a worker’s compensation claim, but that’s not the case. Employers need to work with the employee and the employee’s doctor to develop a successful treatment plan. Part of that plan should include:

  • An overall assessment of the employee’s work setting
  • What available support exists for the employee
  • If transitional work is an option
  • How to adapt the employee’s job if possible

By addressing the above, employers can know what to expect when the employee returns. The employer can also help facilitate a safe return with a suitable timeframe.

Establish Frequent and Open Lines of Communication

Sick or injured employees are often afraid to return to work full time. If the last time they spoke to their boss was their first day off work, their anxiety will likely be through the roof. Employers should touch base with sick or injured employees often to keep up to date with their progress as well as any setbacks they encountered. Employers should also work with the sick or injured employee’s direct supervisor to make sure he or she understands the employee’s needs when returning to work.

Flexibility is of the Essence

When a sick or injured employee returns to the workplace, they aren’t likely to be at the top of their game. Expecting them to be at 100% of their previous productivity is unrealistic and likely to result in a setback. Some examples of return-to-work flexibility include allowing the employee to return on a reduced schedule, decreasing the employee’s number of duties, or allowing the employee to work from home a certain number of days per week. That being said, while it’s important for employers to support the employee as they return to work, they shouldn’t let the employee walk all over them either. Employees returning to work should be able to make measurable strides toward resuming their original workload.
Establishing a unique return-to-work plan for a sick or injured employee can help set the employee up for success and diminish the likelihood of a relapse. If your company’s return-to-work policy is lacking, Actec can help. Contact us to learn more about managing employee absences.

Absence Management Article Published

Posted on

January 31st, 2013


Actec recently published an absence management article to one of the most highly regarded online journal/article repositories in the world. Here’s an excerpt:

According to many leading industry organizations, Absence Management Programs are implemented to help control absences due to illness or injury. The goal is to target and mitigate unexplained, unscheduled or excessive absenteeism. Some of these management programs cover a broad array of absences, often referred to as “Total Absence Management”, while others focus on rapid response for a narrower scope of absences, often called “Day One Absence Management”. Casual absence management (dealing with brief illness and non-illness related absences) also plays an important role in both types of programs.

To read more, use this link: For more info, contact us.