Six Essentials Skills for All-Star Return-to-Work Coordinators

One of the greatest predictors of a successful return to work is having a designated Return-to-Work Coordinator – someone who coordinates all activities and communication among team members. In this article, we will be talking about essential skills that Return-to-Work Coordinators should have in order to be effective and successful in bringing employees back to work

The Return-to-Work Coordinator is the team leader in the return to work process. They provide one point of contact across all stakeholders to ensure consistency, quality and accountability. Although this role is sometimes filled by an occupational therapist or human resources professional, their professional background is not as critical as their skills and knowledge. For a Return-to-Work Coordinator to be effective, they should possess the following qualities:

  1. Skills in clinical interviewing

Return-to-work assessment and planning often involves many in-person and phone conversations with clients. Excellent communication and interview skills can help the Return-to-Work Coordinator establish rapport and trust with the client so that effective planning and problem-solving can occur.

  1. Ergonomic and workplace assessment

The Return-to-Work Coordinator should have detailed and accurate information about the job and workplace requirements. It is important for them to understand the specific demands of the workplace and if they meet the individual limitations and abilities of the worker.

  1. Social problem solving

Return-to-Work Coordinators need to strike a balance between the employer’s focus on productivity, the medical provider’s focus on protecting their patient and the employee’s motivation to participate in meaningful and safe work. Social problem-solving skills ensure all parties are being represented and feel that they are heard.

  1. Workplace mediation

Situations where an employee is absent from work can become tense and strained if communication is poor. RTW Coordinators with skills in workplace mediation can help to overcome disagreements between employee and employer so they can both come to a conclusion that works for them. RTW Coordinator must do this carefully without taking “sides”.

  1. Knowledge of business and legal aspects

Understanding the “business case” for having an employee return to work can help the Return-to-Work Coordinator build credibility with the employer and other stakeholders (union representatives, insurance companies, etc.).  As well, a thorough understanding of the employer’s legal responsibilities under WorkSafeBC and the Human Rights Code protects all parties involved and saves companies from unnecessary expenses.

  1. Knowledge of medical condition

Employers only need to know about their employee’s fitness to work, which is why confidentiality and privacy is an important part of return-to-work planning. The worker’s physician has their medical information but they are not familiar with the demands of the job. Therefore, a Return-to-Work Coordinator acts as a gate keeper who has knowledge about the medical condition and can make informed decisions about the job accordingly.

The presence of a Return to Work Coordinator has been shown to consistently predict successful client outcomes. Depending on the size and needs of your company, you may want to select an internal coordinator or a third-party provider. Whether you hire someone internally or look to an external provider, it is important to have the right person with the right skills and qualifications to ensure your employee’s success.

Diversified will be a hosting an workshop on April 27th, 2018 in Vancouver for Return-to-Work Coordinators and employers who are looking to set up a return-to-work program. You can register at Register soon as there are limited spots available.

Contact us at 1-888-402-8222 or for more information on effective Return-to-Work Coordination.

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