Stefanie Garber | Improving return to work rates means re-thinking leadership in the return to work system
Return to work rates in Australia are falling. The workers compensation system needs a hero. But there’s no Captain Compensation swooping in to save the day. The true heroes of return to work are the leaders who build trust within their teams. They fly the flag of social capital, the idea that co-operation make teams more efficient. Their hair shining in the fluorescent lights, they bravely fight off bad practice and poor communication. more >>
Dr Mary Wyatt and Stefanie Garber | People respond to positive acts with positive deeds of their own. Increased positive experiences could boost return to work rates.
Imagine a return to work system where everyone worked together, helped one another and focused on positive outcomes. Sound appealing? You could help make this dream a reality by doing good deeds for others in the system. Research into a concept called “positive reciprocity” suggests that people tend to respond to generosity with even grander gestures of their own. An experiment by researcher Dennis T. more >>
Lori Boys | If an organisation has a workers' compensation function that needs to be managed in-house, how can you build the right team?
So, where were we? Well, in the first article of this series we touched on resourcing the RTW ‘team’ in a smaller organisation and some of the qualities that might be desirable in a RTW Coordinator (“RTWC”). As is often the case, smaller employers may only require an RTW Coordinator on a limited ‘as needed’ basis dependent upon the relevant legislation. more >>
Theo Giantsos | For surgically treated employees
It is no great mystery that human beings like to be appreciated. Accordingly, it comes as no surprise that making genuine and sincere contact with an injured or ill employee, particularly where hospitalisation has taken place, can make all the difference in determining the quality of the employer-employee relationship in that "brave new world" that is epitomised by the RTW process. Take the example of "Mr S", the chef who ultimately required a cervical (neck) fusion as a result of constantly lifting restaurant-sized pasta pots and large bags of flour. more >>
Dr Mary Wyatt | Poor management often leads to higher levels of employee stress and sickness.
As we frequently note here at Return to Work Matters, line managers and senior managers have a major influence on workplace culture. This influence has a significant effect on the levels of sickness absence and workers compensation cases. This Swedish study focused on the quality of management and its influence on employee stress, health and sickness absence. The study used statistical methods to remove the influence of emotional demand and employee control over the workflow in the results. more >>
The life insurance industry has reported declines in value of over $1 billion, which they attribute to trouble getting big policy holders off claims, as well as a slowing economy, Business Day reports. Six of the largest insurers have reported that profits have not reached expected targets by a combined $220 million in the past year. Depression and stress-related claims are cited as a significant portion of higher-income-protection claims. "The Australian insurance industry is suffering poor lapse rates and claims experience across the board, with industry lapse rates at a 10-year high,'' said AMP CEO Craig Dunn. ''In challenging economic times, more people are deciding to reduce their insurance cover or cancel their policies altogether.''
"It would take dozens of hours each week for a conscientious primary care doctor to read everything he or she needed in order to stay current — a dizzying and impractical prospect," writes Jerry Avorn for the New York Times. "To remedy the problem, many medical groups issue clinical-practice guidelines: experts in a field sort through the reams of clinical research on a medical condition and pore over drug studies, then publish summaries about what treatments work best." This can go awry, writes Avorn, when pharmaceutical companies push new, and often more expensive, products. Financially independent medical evaluation programs improve doctors' decision making. "The programs can also control costs over time, as they counter the influence of drug companies promoting the most expensive new drugs, whether or not they’re an improvement," observes Avorn. "But to make a significant difference, many more health care systems, both private and public, must adopt them."
New studies show that middle-class men who take on non traditional caregiving roles are treated worse at work than men who stick closer to traditional gender norms in the family. Women without children and mothers with non-traditional caregiving arrangements are treated worst of all. “Their hours are no different than other employees', but their co-workers appear to be picking up on their non-traditional caregiving roles and are treating them disrespectfully,” says Prof. Jennifer Berdahl of the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, who co-authored the study with Sue Moon from the Long Island University Post. "Both male and female employees suffer lower pay and fewer promotions after taking time off work to care for family, to extents that cannot be explained by possible skill loss, hours, performance, or ambition...What we really need is a more flexible workplace and policies that protect employees who choose to use that flexibility or not, regardless of their gender."
Two studies from the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington highlight the negative impact workplace and financial stress can have on health behaviours. The lead author urges workplace wellness and smoking cessation programs to consider such impacts as the economy sputters along. "There's growing evidence that work-family conflict is related to a range of negative health behaviours, and it's something for workplace wellness programs to take into consideration when they're trying to get employees to engage in healthier behaviours, whether it's physical activity, nutrition or quitting smoking," said Jon Macy, lead author of both studies and assistant professor in the Department of Applied Health Science at the School of Public Health-Bloomington
Allowing all employees access to paid sick days would reduce influenza infections in the workplace, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health modelling experts. The researchers simulated an influenza epidemic in Pittsburgh and surrounding Allegheny County and found that universal access to paid sick days would reduce flu cases in the workplace by nearly 6 percent and estimated it to be more effective for small, compared to large, workplaces. "Allowing all workers access to paid sick days would reduce illness because fewer workers get the flu over the course of the season if employees are able to stay home and keep the virus from being transmitted to their co-workers.”
Mandatory influenza (flu) vaccination, as a condition of employment, does not lead to excessive voluntary termination, according to a four-year analysis of vaccination rates at Loyola University Health System in Chicago. Flu infections result in approximately 150,000 hospital admissions and 24,000 deaths annually. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all healthcare personnel receive the annual flu vaccine, yet the national average for vaccination of health care professionals is only 64 percent. “Just as construction workers must wear steel-toed boots and hard hats on job sites as a condition of employment, we believe that healthcare workers should get a flu shot to work in a hospital,” said Parada, who leads the vaccination program at Loyola.