In the workers’ compensation and disability arena, working itself is beneficial to a person. Work is therapeutic. Besides the obvious financial benefit, working also offers valuable opportunities to socialize and be productive. Socializing, being at work, even telecommuting, forces us to interact with others. We get out of ourselves for several hours a day instead of being isolated. That can be very beneficial for someone suffering from chronic pain, for example. Time spent focusing only on ourselves without interacting with others can lead to some very dark consequences. Human beings are social – all of us – even the introverts among us have a basic need to be seen and matter to others.
After a workplace injury, advanced technology allows claims administrators to help injured employees to stay engaged and take ownership of their recovery when they are temporarily off work. It is important for examiners and nurse case managers to give employees a sustained sense of community after they have been separated from their colleagues and usual job duties. Isolation is the enemy of improvement. New claim self-service technology enables injured employees to log treating medical provider information and receive daily exercises on their mobile device to prepare for and more quickly recover from surgery. Technology can now allow employees to stay engaged and track their progress. It also better connects them to the claims management team. To learn more, see Sedgwick’s recent edge article highlighting the benefits of engaging employees while they are recovering from a workplace injury.
During the recovery process, pre-existing depression or addiction issues can be every bit as debilitating as comorbidities such as smoking and obesity. For every 10 people in a doctor’s office, seven are there seeking care for reasons related to behavioral health, according to the Maine Health Access Foundation. Behavioral health encompasses both mental health and substance abuse. Many injured employees, especially in today’s aging workforce, come to a new claim with a long history, a now questionable future and a host of complicating factors. Often, early guidance from a behavioral health specialist can help change a negative narrative stemming from physical and psychosocial issues and help keep employees on the best possible path to recovery.
Once they are back at work, employees recovering from an injury can benefit from being productive. Working by its very definition involves productivity, which is linked most to self-esteem and gives us purpose on a daily basis. People who feel useful and independent have been shown to have a higher sense of self-esteem. Completing tasks fosters a sense of accomplishment in people.