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Injury Management – Communicating with employees

- June 30, 2014 by Leslie Stoll, CSP, ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

If you have an employee who is off of work due to an injury, do you or your supervisors continue to communicate with them on a weekly basis?

The key to returning injured employees back to work quickly after an injury is communication. But some of you may be afraid to contact your injured employees for fear of breaking HIPPA laws.  You don’t want to get into specifics about medical treatment; you just need to call to chat, and let them know you care about them. It is human nature for people to want to be “missed” and when they are injured; they don’t want to be forgotten. When you call and check in with your employees, they feel connected to the company and feel like they are important to you. I want to share a couple of stories with you about the importance of communication.

I have a friend who is currently off work due to a work-related back injury and he is probably going to need surgery.  He is afraid of making his employer mad, of losing his job, and genuinely concerned about receiving the wrong treatment. No one from his company has contacted him since he was injured and he only gets to speak with the insurance company claims representative. As a result, he is confused and worried.

I recently underwent foot surgery and was not able to drive for three weeks. Although I was thrilled to be able to work from home, I was lonely. I was stuck at home by myself wondering what was going on in the world. The occasional phone call from a co-worker really made a difference in improving my attitude.

Unfortunately, this feeling of confusion, loneliness and hopelessness is too common among injured workers.  Once that feeling sets in, it can hinder an employee’s recovery time and transition back to work, and they are also more likely to retain an attorney for their injury.

One way to help avoid this is to develop a procedure for maintaining contact with employees who are off work (even those off on personal issues).  This way, employees know that they can reach out without overstepping a line. Everyone will be better off if a procedure is put in place for injury management and employees know they aren’t alone in their time of need.

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