What makes a return-to-work program effective? Report offers perspectives

What makes a return-to-work program effective? Report offers perspectives

Boca Raton, FL — Management commitment, communication and the setting of clear expectations are common elements of successful return-to-work programs for injured employees, according to a new report from the National Council on Compensation Insurance.

NCCI interviewed three employers – a health care system based in Colorado, a school district in Texas, and a construction and transportation infrastructure maintenance company in Alaska – to learn about their experiences with their respective return-to-work program, along with opportunities and challenges each face.

The report synthesizes the perspectives, along with those gathered from previous interviews with insurers, into these attributes of successful RTW programs:

  • Management commitment needs to be foundational within the employer’s culture. Communication of this commitment builds trust between employees and management.
  • Communication and setting clear expectations are key both before and after an injury occurs.
  • Involved medical providers must understand occupational injuries and RTW programs.
  • The employer having a single source of contact to coordinate the RTW program for the injured worker, insurer and medical providers is beneficial.
  • The employer should create and maintain an inventory of light-duty or transitional tasks.

“The purpose of the workers’ compensation system is to provide a means of support for employees injured on the job, as well as for their families,” the report states. “Keeping injured workers on the job post-injury, in some meaningful capacity, retaining their dignity and pride, and ultimately returning them to full-duty purposeful work, is truly the ultimate success story.”