Return-to-work (RTW) coordination programs are successful in reducing long-term work disability. But they vary a lot from one employer to the next.
What doesn’t vary is why employers undertake them: to save money and boost productivity. And they do save money: 94% of savings coming from reduced medical expenditures, with even a modest effort at coordination.
Coordination is the key–not medical training or medical assessment. Caring, job accommodation, communication and conflict resolution are part of successful RTW coordination. It’s about problem solving much more than diagnosis and treatment.
It’s well known that a brief psychological intervention can reframe a person’s impression of the heart attack they just had, and make it less severe: fonder, in a way.
It’s less well known that functional restoration significantly and consistently reduces sick-leave days, much more than for physical therapy for chronic back pain.
Or that cancer interventions for RTW are being seriously studied.
Absence (short term disability, long term disability, workers’ compensation, Family Medical Leave and absenteeism) is even more of a hot button with job insecurity rampant in America.
Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and many of those who have had a long absence want to return to productivity. And their employers want them to.
The core questions are “What will most help them do so, cost-effectively?” and “How should employers keep employees healthy and safe at work, so they don’t become disabled?