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Do you feel frustrated and powerless when a worker who’s been injured isn’t making a good recovery? This isn’t an uncommon concern we see when working with employers after a work injury has occurred.

As an employer you have important obligations. In brief, these include a legal obligation to have Workers Compensation insurance, to provide a safe workplace for your employees and additionally, to assist employees injured in the course of work to recover.

The financial costs of downtime, lost productivity, staff retraining and replacement following an injury can impact significantly on businesses and employers. The length, cost and complexity of the workplace injury impacts on the cost of the claim. Longer durations off work and prolonged, ineffective treatments often means insurance premiums rise.

It’s no surprise that an employer’s frustrations can occasionally be on display when we enter the workplace to assist an employee return to their work duties.

On top of running a successful day to day business, managing workers recovering from injuries can present real challenges, particularly when the individual is taking much longer to recover than was medically predicted. Some employees recovering from injury are reluctant to participate in work as they fear pain or re-injury. Some don’t fully recover, and fall into a chronic pain cycle with secondary psychological factors impacting their recovery.  

You may be unaware, but relieved to know, that as an employer you’re able to contribute to your employee’s recovery. In fact, studies clearly demonstrate that a manager or supervisor’s attitude is one of the greatest influences on return to work! It’s very powerful to understand how the right approach from the outset, your Early Intervention, can influence the outcome of your team members’ recovery. Here are three simple ways to positively impact the recovery of your employee:

1. Acknowledge

Whether you agree or disagree with how the injury occurred, or the background of the employee leading to their point of injury, it is important to acknowledge your employee has been impacted. You may have heard the term ‘psychosocial factors’ - an individual’s beliefs about pain and expectations of their treatment and work, greatly influence their recovery journey. As an employer you can’t control all these factors, but you can control how you manage your relationship with your employee after their injury and what happens immediately after their injury.

Acknowledge their injury, their loss, their challenges. Offer them confidence that you can help them recover at work. A few reassuring spoken sentences will greatly influence the attitude of your team member and the entire direction of their injury claim.  

2. Understand

Having a thorough understanding of your employee’s injury cannot be underestimated. Speak to your Rehabilitation Consultant, ask questions to help get the clarity you need. The expectations you have of your employee’s recovery process will be more accurate if you educate yourself on their diagnosis. In addition, take time to understand the evidence behind the benefits of an early return to work. Medical evidence suggests that helping an employee return to work early can:

  • Improve the rate of their recovery
  • Affect their ability to manage their pain
  • Help them to maintain their fitness
  • Provide important social and wellbeing benefits

An effective recovery will mean the employee with an injury will resume normal activities as soon as practicable in their recovery - getting out of the house, moving, socialising and continuing to be as productive as possible, within their recommended medical restrictions. 

3. Activate

Preventing injuries is much easier than responding to injuries. Encourage employees who have experienced a workplace injury to join your organisations’ OH&S committee. Use their experience to guide safer workplace practices. Why not encourage your employees to maintain their general fitness and wellbeing through encouraging them to be active at work? Workplace Wellbeing Programs are a powerful way of building the health, resilience and performance of your team, while building fitness and comradery. Why not have a health tip or challenge for the week? 

The possibilities are endless, and Altius Group offers a digital wellbeing platform and mobile app, AltiusLife, that enables employers to support their employees to realise their health potential. This digital, evidence-based platform provides health information and advice on wellbeing and healthy lifestyle choices, and encourages users to track and improve their physical and psychological activity. 

An employee who feels valued is an employee who will be on board with a positive recovery. Great injury management commences well before an injury occurs. In the event an injury does occur however, you might like to use the Acknowledge, Understand and Activate steps to improve outcomes. The timeline from injury to recovery for your employee, and the success or otherwise of the outcome, are greatly affected by you as an employer.

For rehabilitation support and further information visit Rehabilitation Services by Altius.