How to Aid Employee Recovery after Psychological Injury
Returning to work after psychological injury is a critical part of the recovery process.
According to Comcare, work is the most effective way to boost the wellbeing of recovering workers, along with their families and communities.
Yet employers must walk a fine line, encouraging timely return to work while avoiding pressure to return too soon.
The 9-step path to positive outcomes
Employers seek a smooth, successful return to the workplace following any injury impacting a worker’s health and wellbeing.
Drawing on icare recommendations, this guide helps employers to play a mindful, positive role in worker recovery.
It also helps you fulfil all your legal obligations concerning workplace rehabilitation management.
- Be proactive
It’s important to contact your injured worker within 48 hours of notification. You need to show genuine concern, putting aside any discussion or dispute over facts.
Offering your support during this initial window can significantly improve return to work outcomes.
- Allocate a buddy
Keep the injured worker connected to the workplace throughout their recovery.
This can be done by teaming up the worker with a ‘buddy’ they know and trust. The injured worker can then stay in touch with colleagues and feel less isolated during the process.
This can involve physical meet-and-greets, along with other forms of contact by phone, social media and email. Instruct the buddy to keep their messaging friendly and affirmative.
- Stay in touch
Stay in regular touch with the injured worker. This will help them feel valued and remind them they have a supportive workplace to go back to.
Engage in positive discussions about return to work, airing any concerns the worker might have about resuming former duties. Emphasise worker strengths while remaining flexible about modifying the worker’s role, if necessary.
- Plug workers in
Your employee still has an active role to play in workplace relations.
Inviting them to birthday functions, special events and team celebrations can boost morale, enhance recovery and reduce the likelihood of a ‘cascading’ series of claims.
- Encourage wellbeing
Successful recovery from injury depends on all-round health and wellness, especially when the damage is psychological.
That’s why it’s important to encourage your recovering worker to look after themselves holistically – nurturing physical and mental health through diet, exercise, mindfulness, supportive social engagement and community pursuits like volunteering.
- Maintain finances
Be sure to keep regular salary payments flowing throughout the worker’s recovery.
Anxiety about finance will only add to the stress the worker is already feeling, slowing the journey back to work. Continuity of pay also ensures the employee can access any activity or pursuit they need to make a full recovery.
- Celebrate victories
Monitor the progress of worker recovery and join them in celebrating any milestone moments.
Maybe they’ve completed a course, had a psychological breakthrough or are just another week or month closer to resuming work. Whatever it is, congratulate them on progress.
- Consider work transition
Investigate the best way to help your employee ease back into the workplace.
This might involve dropping in one day a week, returning on a roster of light duties or a phased return where duties are gradually added back in.
So, don’t overload the employee when they’re still not ready. Consider a suitable role for your returned worker, allowing them to gather speed and confidence as they gradually return to full capacity.
- Show belief
Let the insurer take care of the factual details, including attribution of responsibility. Concentrate on showing you have faith in your employee and intend to support them in the workplace.
Workers with psychological trauma can often be misunderstood by employers and colleagues, because their injury is less tangible than a broken leg or arm. Don’t add to the burden. Be a positive force for change. It will be noted by colleagues, helping to boost morale and productivity throughout the workplace.
A specialist in workplace rehabilitation can help you protect workers, manage interventions and improve return to work outcomes.