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The Pros and Cons of a Return-to-Work Program

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July 3, 2014

Creating a solvent, profitable enterprise is a priority for all organizations across the country. Having comprehensive insurance solutions in place is one key part of that, and without coverage a small problem could turn into a large cost.

Specifically, employers rely heavily on workers' compensation insurance as a way to protect the health of both their companies and staff members. Accidents, injuries and illnesses can appear at any time in the workplace, and without indemnification those expenses can be quite high. Even so, mismanaging out-of-work employees can be just as costly, so many businesses are looking for effective ways to control injuries and ensure that workers get back on the job as quickly - and safely - as possible.

As a result, return-to-work programs have gained popularity across the country. As an employer yourself, here are a few pros and cons that can shed some light on these transitional work programs:

The company needs to adapt
When a worker gets injured, they soon begin to take a toll on the company's workers' comp insurance. The longer they are away from the job, the higher the costs, resulting in an increased likelihood of lost productivity in the workplace. Therefore, it becomes a priority to find a way to get them back - or replace their output in a cost-effective manner for a short period of time.

A return-to-work program can provide relief for employers, but their companies must be willing to adapt in order to implement such a strategy successfully. According to the American Society of Safety Engineers, problems can arise if modified job openings aren't in place for injured workers. The heart of a return-to-work program is bringing back employees in lighter roles for a short while, helping them transition from off the job back into the workforce. This will prevent them from taking a toll on insurance, but the positions need to be there in order for this to happen.

In addition, company culture may be against a transitional duty program. For example, some people may feel that bringing workers back too early can lead to more severe injuries, but this is rarely the case, according to the ASSE. The longer they are away from the job the more likely they are to never come back.

Moreover, some employers may feel that all staff members must be operating at 100 percent capacity. However, it is better to have workers be somewhat productive instead of simply sitting at home on the couch.

RTW program can provide benefits
If a company is willing to implement a return-to-work program, there is a chance they can experience a number of benefits they otherwise would have missed out on. Primarily, they'll be able to cut insurance costs, but they can also find other ways to boost the bottom line.

According to WorkersCompensation.com, one of the biggest pros of this type of program is the ability to ease workers back into the job. An injury can be tough on a person's mindset, and letting them be productive and stay involved can help them stay motivated and positive. Better yet, bringing them back in a limited role can remove the need to hire temporary staff members to fill the void, saving money at the same time. 

Furthermore, WorkersCompensation.com explained that a return-to-work program is a good way to improve boss-employee relations. While an injured person is learning the ropes again, the business owner can stay involved in the process. In many cases, this level of personal contact can be hard to come by.

With these pros and cons in mind, you may want to evaluate your existing business to determine whether or not a transitional duty program is the right choice for you. 

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