March 11, 2021 | By Mallory Glessner
Workplace injuries cost companies billions of dollars per year. Some companies shoulder more of this burden than others such as construction companies. Because construction work is more dangerous than other types of work, workers' compensation premiums and direct costs of employee injuries are much higher than the premiums for a white-collar office job.
However, there are ways to reduce these costs. One of the most effective ways is to establish a return-to-work program. A return-to-work program establishes guidelines and milestones for injured employees to come back to work, whether in the same capacity as before their accident, or in some reduced manner. Having an established program in place makes it easy for injured employees to understand what comes next.
For small- and mid-sized companies, there are many benefits to establishing a return-to-work program. Following your established policy, you can help your employees return to work faster and safely while also saving money.
Workers' compensation insurance coverage can be expensive, especially in certain industries. When you have an employee injured on the job, they may receive workers' compensation benefits. This will increase your premiums the longer the employee receives benefits. By getting your employee back to work quickly, you reduce the amount of workers' comp benefits your employee receives, reducing the amount that your premiums will increase.
When employees suffer injuries, your company may suffer gaps in work. Even if an employee is working in a reduced capacity, that is better than having them not working at all. Staying at home and not being active while recovering can have deleterious effects on your employee’s health. When they are productive, it helps both you and them. It also keeps your other employees from being overloaded.
When an employee suffers an injury on the job, they may never return to work. Not because they are unable to, but because they do not want to return. The longer employees spend away from work, the less likely they are to return. By reducing the amount of time your employees spend away from their work, you reduce the likeliness that your company will see turnover.
When your injured employee returns to work, even part-time, it helps increase morale of other employees. Not only are your other employees concerned about their colleague's health and well being, but seeing their colleague back on the job reduces their own stress. While the injured employee was out, other employees likely had to cover the work missed by the injured employee.
Now that the employee is back, they can help contribute towards a common goal and work as a team. This helps increase morale.
Also, employees want to know that you will keep caring for them even after they suffer a workplace injury. Having a program dedicated to their recovery will help raise their morale as they see more evidence that you really care about them.
Small- and mid-sized businesses can reap serious benefits from establishing a return-to-work program. These benefits not only help retain your employees and keep them productive, it also helps your company's bottom line. By reducing the amount of workers' comp benefits that are paid out and reducing the likelihood of employee lawsuits, your company can retain revenue.
Developing a return-to-work program can be time-consuming and challenging. Many people do not even know where to start. When establishing a return-to-work program, you also need to ensure that your policy is compliant with federal, state, and local labor laws.
Your best option to establish a compliant return-to-work program is to partner with a trusted HR outsourcing partner who can help you draft your policy and show you how to follow the steps to ensure maximum employee productivity and business compliance.
Mallory is a Six Sigma Black Belt and Continuous Improvement leader at Questco. Her areas of focus include gap analysis, project management, and training & development.