The supervisor is usually the key to a successful return to work. Supervisors must act in tandem with the employee and case manager and be open to exploring return to work alternatives. And to make all of this happen, supervisors must have an adequate support network to help them handle these various responsibilities. Be sure to address these questions for your supervisors:
Supervisors can assist the employee with their transition back to the work place by reaching out to them and following up with them for any needs they may have during their initial days back to work. Employees must see that there is a corporate culture that values them and their abilities, not one that forgets their contributions if they are no longer around.
Successful employer disability management programs make a point of contacting the employee early and regularly during their disability absence. The results of this are beneficial to the employee and the employer because:
This contact can be a simple "how are you doing" phone call or even a card to say "hello." If your company has a Return to Work Coordinator or a case management program, the earlier they contact the employee, the better. A corporate culture that values all employees is key to laying the foundation for communication and early return to work.
The earlier the employee is contacted during their disability absence, the better.
This sounds like a broken record - the employer must take the initiative to create a sense of value among all of their employees. This is not something that can be accomplished via a communication blitz.
This kind of culture won't happen overnight. But by encouraging trust in employees and their contributions to the company, companies can achieve a balance of providing resources to help their employees to assist their return to work with effective use of the company's money.