During the course of business, employers will find that all employees are not the same. Speaking differently to each employee in order to get the same result is normal and necessary to keep business flowing steadily each day. It only stands to reason that the same approach should hold true when working with employees to get them quickly and safely back to work after a worker’s compensation claim.
Different Return to Work Approach For Different Employees
There are many different return-to-work programs that can be utilized, but they should be matched with specific employees’ personalities to get the most successful results. While one employee may respond well to several phone calls a week, another may find that to be too intrusive. Finding the balance is the key to getting employees back to work.
There are primarily four different employee personality types ranging from fully satisfied to completely unsatisfied. The four types of employees:
Satisfied-Active– one who is happy and needs no coercion or prodding to return to work.
Satisfied-Passive– one who is happy, but complacent with staying out of work.
Dissatisfied-Passive– one who is unhappy, but does not willfully concoct schemes to stay out of work. However, they may take advantage of the system to stay out longer.
Dissatisfied-Active– one who is very unhappy with his/her situation and will actively attempt to take advantage of the system.
The majority of employees will fall under one of these description categories and will respond similarly to different return-to-work strategies. Handling each situation according to the personalities of the employees is the best tactic.
Suit The Personality Of The Employee
For example, a satisfied-active employee might be someone who has not missed a day of work in 10 years, plays on the company softball team, and is always looked to as a go-getter. A workers comp claim might be perceived as a setback to this type of individual and little or no interaction from the employer will be necessary in order to get him to return to work. A recommended strategy is to send a get well card and work in partnership to provide a productive transitional duty position; activity such as aggressive surveillance can have the opposite effect and make the employee unwilling to return to work.
An active-dissatisfied employee in the same situation will take a completely different approach and have a higher likelihood to abuse the system. Employers of active-dissatisfied employees will need to take a much more agressive approach including implementing fraud prevention measures, hiring investigators, and having almost constant contact with the employee in order to get him back to work.
Without using a different return to work approach to suit the personality of the employee, the employer can inadvertently stall the process.
Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.