The crucial role of the Supervisor or Team Leader in the return to work (RTW) process
Injury and return to work management is a coordinated and managed process intended to facilitate recovery and restore an injured worker to their pre-injury work capacity.
This process requires the close working of a number of parties to assist in maximising a recovery and return to work outcome for the injured worker.
While the role of the RTW Coordinator is critical, the role of the Supervisor or Team Leader is equally important in ensuring the successful return of the injured worker to the workplace.
Supervisors have an intimate knowledge of the range of jobs available at the workplace as they can provide modified work, interpret corporate policies and facilitate access to corporate medical resources.
By having a close relationship with the worker supervisors can easily monitor the worker’s health and capabilities on a daily basis while communicating a positive message of concern and support.
Communication is the key – if there is no communication the worker can feel isolated or feel they are a burden on the workplace. Communication helps let the worker know they are valued, creates a strong workplace culture and improves morale. However, communication is only one part of the pivotal role of facilitating the return to work process.
Supervisors / Team Leaders can facilitate the return to work process by;
- Communicating openly
- Being proactive
- Listening to a worker’s concerns
- Having an open door policy
- Responding to their concerns as soon as possible
- Acknowledging the impact of the worker’s injury
- Remaining positive
- Taking responsibility for the worker’s rehabilitation
It is important the Supervisor or Team Leader does not;
- Lose patience with the worker
- Display aggressive behaviours
- Make the worker feel like a nuisance
- Question the worker’s every action
- Go against the worker’s request for work adjustments