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Paving the way for improved recovery and return-to-work outcomes

When an employee is unable to work due to an illness or injury, early communication is key to improving recovery and return-to-work outcomes. In fact, research in Australia suggests that when contact is made with an injured worker within the first three days post-injury, their return-to-work outcomes increase substantially by up to 63% for psychological injuries and up to 26% for physical injuries.

Back to work sooner and healthier

WorkSafe Victoria, the second largest Australian jurisdiction, is currently running a major campaign to reinforce this message. The campaign includes access to a toolkit providing guidance on how to start and maintain conversations with ill or injured employees. Additionally, Australian regulators have tailored their websites with similar guidance – providing employers with simple and adaptable tasks to support a positive recovery and return-to-work experience.

A recent report states that when an injury notification and claims lodgment is raised quickly, the overall recovery and return-to-work process is more efficient. Whereas in cases that involve a delay, the employee is more likely to need an extended period away from work. In circumstances where an injured or ill employee received early support from their employer and colleagues, the employee demonstrated lower levels of concern in raising a claim. Furthermore, employees who are not concerned about making a claim are more than three times likely to return to work.

A shared purpose

What’s encouraging for both employees and employers is that there are countless resources available for ill or injured workers. As technology improves, digital platforms can promote a higher degree of connectivity and engagement. MySedgwick and smart.ly are two examples. To assist businesses in simplifying the recovery and return-to-work process, our self-service portal, MySedgwick provides clients and injured workers access to claims status, payment history, claim documents and more — by tablet, computer or smartphone. Smart.ly integrates forward-thinking technology behind the scenes so that the intake process is simple to the end user.

People-first approach

As Australia continues to experience skilled labour shortages across many sectors, we have a renewed focus on keeping the workforce healthy, well and productive. This includes supporting those who experience an injury or illness in their recovery and return to work. When a people-first approach in absence management and workers compensation is properly implemented, employers are able to improve employee health, recovery and return-to-work outcomes for a relatively low investment. Sedgwick’s Direct Health Solutions (DHS) 24/7 nurse triage service offers real-time injury or absence notifications to enable early contact opportunities. A service that will be part of the Sedgwick claims model in Australia.

In Sedgwick’s Direct Health Solutions (DHS) 2019 survey capturing responses from 104 organisations across Australia, respondents were asked to provide data based on all unplanned absenteeism, including personal leave, workers compensation leave and unauthorised leave (paid and unpaid). The results show absenteeism increased by 1.5 days — to 11.2 days per employee per annum compared to 2017. Absenteeism is estimated to cost the Australian economy over $35 billion in wages and lost productivity. Also worth noting, 85% of respondents indicated they were focused on managing absenteeism in their organisation, an increase of 12% from our 2017 survey.

While there are always evolving challenges related to return to work, creative thinking and the use of the latest technology can help us find solutions and exceed expectations. Whether an employee needs to take time off work for an illness or other life event, or a person is injured on-the-job, on a client’s premises or by their equipment or products, the Sedgwick team in Australia and around the world is here to take care of each of them. To learn more about improving return-to-work outcomes, contact shane.odea@au.sedgwick.com.

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