7 Ways to Make Return-to-Work a Cornerstone of Corporate Culture

One of the fundamentals in workers compensation cost containment is return to work programs. I have seen the effectiveness of these programs over and over. It was also stated in the RIMS 2010 Benchmark Survey, “as the percentage of workers who quickly return to work decreases, the chances a company would have a bad mod (over 1.1) increases an astounding 160%.


Successful Implementation Comes From the Top


Like the success of most workers comp cost containment programs, implementation needs to come from the top of the organization. Here are some tips to make return to work a part of your culture.


  • Talk about Return to Work in a positive way


Discussion should always focus on the benefits to the company, and the employee. Examples include: improving employee retention, keeping employees involved in workplace activities, maintaining employee’s full wage earning power, faster recovery, etc.



  • Make Return to Work jobs a positive experience by finding productive tasks or jobs.


Don’t punish your employees by having your transitional duty jobs be punitive. Put some thought into your transitional duty job bank and create jobs that would be productive for the employee and the company.



  • Communicate the cost of NOT implementing Return-to-Work.


Communicating the financial benefits to the employees and managers can really open people’s eyes. Use the Transitional Duty Cost Calculator at www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com as a reference.



  • Make Return to Work a mandatory requirement of employment.


The kiss of death for a program is picking and choosing which employees participate. Unfair treatment will spread throughout an organization like a virus.



  • Hold Weekly Meetings to consistently have an open dialog with injured workers.


This gives you the opportunity to discuss obstacles to return to work, assess the injury, and address any problems or concerns.



  • Send Get Well Cards for colleagues that are injured.


People appreciate thoughtful remembrances and this will help alleviate the “us vs. them” mentality.



  • Include Injured Workers in workplace activities while they are recovering.


Once and injured worker is out of work they can easily become alienated and lose social contacts, so continue to include them in workplace activities even if they are doing a partial schedule while they work toward full duty.


These are just a few ways to make Return to Work a part of your culture. As the great Zig Ziglar said, “you don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great”.



Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.



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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

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