Accidents and injuries happen every day, some of which unfortunately can remove employees from the workplace for several weeks or months during recovery. Developing a back to work program can be beneficial for both employee and employer when it comes time to welcome an injured employee back into the workplace. This program should be well thought out before you have to face an injured employee; plus, if it’s planned in advance, you can add it to your employee benefits package.
Companies of all sizes should be able to plan and implement a back to work program. It starts with ensuring that all rooms in the workspace are handicapped accessible and that there’s a positive, supportive environment across all teams. When injured employees do return, they should feel welcomed and accepted rather than burdensome.
If an employee does get injured, his or her manager should stay in close contact to monitor the healing process and plan the employee’s return. Obviously, a return should not occur until the employee’s doctor has approved it. During recovery, a manager can have discussions with the employee about his or her abilities. Sometimes a worker can return to his or her normal job after recovery, while other times a worker may need an alternative role.
Whatever the case is, the returning employee will need a bit of flexibility upon returning. Perhaps he or she needs to work half days for a few more weeks to prevent putting too much strain on the injury. Or perhaps the worker would prefer a few full days per week. Whatever a returning employee’s capabilities, he or she should have the opportunity to continue making positive contributions to the company. This flexibility allows the worker time to properly heal and prevents the business from losing a seasoned, valuable employee.
It’s also important for managers to stay in constant communication with the rest of the team to let them know how the injured employee is progressing. During this time, other employees may be required to take on a bit more work. Continue to praise them for jobs well done and cut everyone a bit more slack than normal to keep spirits up during the added stress. As you plan the injured employee’s return date, let other employees know how much longer they can expect to keep up with the heavier load.
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