What is Early Return to Work program?

By Abhishek Kathpal | Updated 10 August, 2022

An employee might be injured, and when such happens, they will be unable to work. The workers and the employers will benefit from the need to get them back to work as soon as possible. The employee's recovery is essential to the organization's productivity, and organizations usually have an early return to work program to aid the recovery.

What is Early Return to Work program

Early Return to Work program meaning and definition

An early return to work program is an initiative (either internally or externally) to help workers incapable of working for a long time due to injury return early to work. It involves giving the injured employees reduced hours or roles to ease them back into the workforce. Sometimes, the employees need new equipment to return to their former organizational roles. Procurement of these instruments is through the early return to work programs.

Companies adopt the early return to work program because employees will find it hard to return to work the more they spend time away from it. Most of the time, external expertise is needed to provide an early return to work program. Through the programs, identifying the stumbling block preventing the employees from returning to their former work is possible. Employees are granted access to the necessary professionals, such as physiotherapists and psychologists, to aid their early return to their former job.

The Benefits of Early Return to Work for Employers

Dealing with an off-duty employee can be complicated, especially when they are expected to be out for a while. Companies tackle the situation's complexity and help reacclimatize workers through the early return to work program. Employees returning to work early benefit the employer in the following ways:

  1. Reduces Cost and Saves Time: The employer will save much money from lower employee compensation costs once the employees return to work as there will be no need to hire a new one. Before hiring a new employee, some processes require time, such as going through their resume, interview, and training. Also, going through all those processes will require money. Before a newly hired employee can be up to speed, it may take many months. Thus, the early return to work program will eliminate the need to hire new employees, thus saving time and money.

  2. Reduces Staff Turnover Rate: The risk of staff turnover reduces with the early return to work program since there will be no hiring of new employees. In addition, there would be no time and resources spent on training programs. The position and the industry are the major determinants of the cost of turnover. According to some estimates, hiring and training a new worker for mid-level to executive jobs can cost the amount paid as salary for that position between 9 months to 2 years.

The Benefit of Early Return to Work for Employees

Whenever injured employees return to work, the job the employer offers them is light to show that their wellbeing is vital to them. The morale and productivity of the worker improve when they keep getting in touch with them by practicing the early return to work when they are injured. Returning to work is difficult for employees when they are out of work for an extended period.

Also, there is a reduced risk of an attorney getting involved. The program helps assure injured employees that the organization will not dismiss them. Furthermore, they will be eased into their work schedule when they return to work. Thus, there is little potential for problems, and the early return to work program improves an organization's employee retention rates.

How to Make an Early Return to Work

Employees returning to work early is facilitated through communication with the medical provider. The medical provider determines the level of work the employees can handle, their health condition, and their functional capacity. Although injured employees have transitional opportunities, the physicians are often unaware. Therefore, the employer must facilitate the early return to work program and provide the physicians with a list of light-duty work the employees can do. Thus, the physician's recommendation will be accurate for the employee to return to work early. Some of the light-duty recuperating employees can do include:

  1. Data entry

  2. Internal mail distribution

  3. File organization

  4. Housekeeping

  5. Inventory management

  6. Telephone operation

The purpose of the early return to work program is to save cost and decrease disruptions by giving employees light work duties temporarily and transitionally. The recuperating employees will feel connected to the workplace, and their frustration will minimize when they return to work early.

What Should A Return-To-Work Program Include?

Examining the steps below will help with the implementation of the early return to work program:

  1. Obtaining support from higher management positions

  2. Create a coordinator

  3. Workers' and team members' training

  4. Establishing modified choices of duties and responsibilities

  5. Create a return to work culture

  6. Design a written policy and process

About the Author

Abhishek Kathpal

Abhi is the co-founder at Longlist.io. Funded by US based OnDeck, Longlist is currently enabling 50+ businesses to increase their candidate and client reach outs, automating the workflow across stages.

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