Wellness: Think Different, Return-to-Work

By , On , In General

This article was published in the  October 2017 issue of Business Examiner – Thompson Okanagan.


WELLNESS – Within employment, there is a growing effort to reduce the number of unnecessary absences and their associated costs. The reactive perspective of return-to-work that is currently failing employers relies on a biomedical model and a “sit and wait” mentality.

Employers fully rely on medical care providers who know very little about employees’ work duties to provide medical information, which in many cases, is too vague for return to work planning. Researchers, practitioners, and employers have expressed the need for a more effective approach to the Return-to-Work (RTW) / Stay-at-Work (SAW) process in order to reduce costs and achieve sustainable results that satisfy all stake holders.

In 2012, Diversified Rehabilitation Group (DRG) set out with the goal to develop a model that employers can use to design and implement effective RTW / SAW programs. Through collaboration with skilled professionals in the fields of Disability Management, Return-to-Work, Human Resources, and Vocational Rehabilitation, DRG developed the Client-Focused Return-to-Work (CF-RTW) Model.

This model uses evidence based predictors of successful Return-to-Work and is grounded in theory from the Disability Management literature. The CF-RTW Model uses a proactive approach that enlists the bio-psycho-social model. Employees and their direct manager start Return-to-Work planning from the date of injury or illness.

The medical care providers work collaboratively with the employees, their Return-to-Work Coordinator as well as the employer in assisting the employee to Return-to-Work in a safe and productive manner. The employees’ medical information is fully protected. The CF-RTW Model has been used successfully in over 15,000 client cases with diverse and complex needs since its development.

The Client-Focused Return-to-Work model has proved its economic benefit in small, medium, and large companies. Based on data collected by DRG in 2013 / 2014, applying the CF-RTW Model reduced the number of days missed and increased employer’s savings.

One mid-sized company (600 employees) found they lost 2147 hours due to stress-related absence in 2013. This translated to a $64,410.00 cost to the company. After DRG applied the CF-RTW Model within this company, the number of hours lost due to stress-related absence went down to 896, a 58 per cent decrease, the cost was then only $26,880.00 (42 per cent of the original cost). In the two years following, hours lost due to stress-related absence remained between 850 and 950 hours.

Another larger company (over 1500 employees) found their employees missed 3103 days due to injury or disability in 2012. This cost the employer $698,175.00 that year. DRG implemented the CF-RTW Model and the total days absent the following year decreased by 52 per cent. Days lost due to injury or disability increased only slightly the following year which demonstrates the sustainability of the program. The company’s cost due to absences in 2014 was half of what it was in 2012.

The CF-RTW Model is successful because it provides an integrated, flexible and personalized approach to Disability Management that engages the employee and their direct manager. This approach is applied through four layers of action and four phases of progress that ensures safety, accountability, support and high quality of medical and RTW Rehabilitation.

Putting this model into practice requires commitment from the entire organization and knowledgeable team members to implement effectively. DRG has created a hassle-free tool that employers can use to apply the CF-RTW Model within their organization in the form of an annual membership.

It removes the headache of dealing with disability and injury claims while meeting employee’s needs and fulfilling employer’s legal obligations. Employers can choose between Return-to-Work services based on their organization needs with memberships split into three levels, Gold, Silver, and Bronze.

For more information on the Client-Focused Return-to-Work Model or the Disability Management Membership options, we encourage you to attend our webinar on November 24, 2017. You can register for the Think Different; Return-To-Work webinar by contacting our office at info@diversifiedrehab.ca.

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