A Simple Phone Call
Staffing Safety & Return to Work Tips
When an employee is on leave, it puts a financial burden on your staffing company. You want those employees to return to work as soon as possible. However, many employees struggle during a disability and the subsequent return to work process. As such, companies need to do their part to ease this transition. One important, but often overlooked, role is that of the immediate manager.
Employees who are out of work due to disability, injury or another reason face unique challenges. They’re isolated from their work life and colleagues and may be struggling to recover from their injury or illness. To them, returning to work might seem daunting. If the injury happened on the job, they may wonder if the company is angry at them for reporting an injury. If they don’t hear from anyone at work during their time away, they may feel as if no one cares if they return. Research shows that the longer an employee is away from work, the less likely he or she will return at all.
To keep employees feeling connected and engaged while on leave, managers should contact their direct report to check in. Some companies and managers worry about violating confidentiality laws or invading the individual’s privacy when contacting them. When contacting employees out on leave, managers should:
- Wait a week or more before contacting to allow the employee to process the situation and ease into a new routine as he or she recovers; if feasible maintain periodic contact throughout the leave
- Ask how he or she is feeling without inquiring about specific health information or a diagnosis
- Ask if the employee has talked to his or her doctor about returning to work
- Emphasize that the manager and company want the employee back
- Show genuine concern and sympathy
- Remind the individual about your company’s employee assistance program, if applicable; it may help ease the anxiety and other emotions associated with this difficult transition
- Keep the individual informed of company events and workplace happenings
Return to work is truly a team effort, including the employee, manager, HR, employee’s physician and often an insurance representative. It’s important to have an established return to work program to help ease this process for employees and detail the responsibilities and role of each member.
Transitional duties or temporary job reassignments should be encouraged, and the employee should not face any loss of pay. The entire process, including the employee’s time away and return, should be handled professionally and respectfully. It’s important that all employees have a sense that reporting an injury or disability is okay, and the company cares about them and will do what it can to ensure a positive return to work and successful transition back to full duties.
Employees who undergo a successful and positive return to work experience are likely to be more loyal to the company and have higher morale in their jobs. Conversely, mishandling this process can cause employees to feel unhappy, betrayed or even not return. Maintain your employee talent and foster an environment of care and positivity by creating and operating an effective return to work program—and make sure the direct manager plays his or her key role for each employee facing a return to work situation.
Questions? Contact the ‘A’ Team.
- Safety E-Book
- Five Benefits of Return to Work Programs for Staffing Companies
- Why Not Return to Work Programs
- The OSHA Temporary Worker Q&A You Might Have Missed
- OSHA White Paper: Final Rule on Electronic Reporting
- OSHA Emphasizes Joint Responsibility Between Temporary Staffing Firms and Clients
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