Return to Work Programs: Positive Outcomes for Employers and Employees?
In 1998 a group of researchers decided to embark on a scientific literature review of experiments related to assessing the effectiveness of modified duty and return to work (RTW) programs. The researchers looked at literature related to modified work as well as phased techniques in which injured workers are gradually reintroduced to their jobs through increasing hours and responsibilities. Supported employment was also explored, in which employees return to work with a coach or an employment specialist. Reaching back to 1975, the researchers evaluated 13 studies related to the topic, and shared their summary findings. These included:
- Return to work programs cut the number of lost workdays by 50 percent. For HR as risk managers, this translates into lower cost of injuries overall.
- The longer injured workers are off work, the less likely they are to return at all. The study found that long-term disabilities accounted for the majority of workers' compensation costs (Krause, Dasinger, and Neuhauser 1998).
There is more that needs to be done from an academic perspective to understand the efficacy of RTW programs. These researchers found a surprisinglack of high-quality studies within this HR domain, particularly from the perspective of the injured worker. In fact, only 13 of the 29 studies originally sourced were included due to lack of validity issues. Areas to consider for future research ...