Establishing a Successful Return-to-Work Program

June 30, 2022

Employee accidents, injuries and illnesses can occur at any time in the workplace, and these events can cause expenditures that are costly to businesses. Consider the following ways an effective return-to-work program can ensure employees are able to return to the job quickly and safely after an incident.

Adapt the Culture
When a worker becomes injured or sick while on the job, their situation may soon take a toll on the company's overall costs. The longer the injured worker is away from the job, the higher the total expenses, resulting in an increased likelihood of overall lost productivity in the workplace.

An effective return-to-work program can provide financial relief for employers — but the company must be willing to understand and adapt the culture in order to implement such a strategy successfully.

Welcoming current employees back in a limited or modified role can remove the need to hire temporary staff. Some employers may fear that allowing workers to return too early might lead to more severe injuries; however, this is rarely the case, according to the American Society of Safety Professionals.

Know Your Options

Many return-to-work programs focus on bringing injured employees back to work as soon as they are medically able. Without sacrificing quality care, this type of program facilitates productivity and contains costs by allowing an employee to contribute within their abilities until they can return to their full-duty job. Options for a successful return-to-work program may include:

  • Modified work – a return to the job with duties modified
  • Transitional work – a return to the job with different duties
  • Alternate work – a return to the company within a new role

Understand the Benefits
Businesses can experience a number of benefits from an effective return-to-work program, including minimizing insurance costs and improving their bottom line. According to, one of the major benefits of a return-to-work program is the ability to ease workers back into the job:

  • Enabling employees to remain productive can help them stay motivated and maintain skillsets
  • Return-to-work programs can help employers reduce absenteeism, which exceeds $40B a year
  • A return-to-work program can improve employee relations — while an injured person is learning the ropes again, the business owner or manager and team should stay engaged in the process

Effective return-to-work programs can help reduce insurance costs, ease workers back into the job, remove the need to hire temporary staff, and reduce the length of injury-related absences.


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