Team Building...literally - Part 2

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.

Regardless of which criterion is appropriate it is prudent to appoint a RTWC that has an appropriate level of seniority and the competencies required to undertake the role.

And seniority doesn’t necessarily relate to the position held within the organisation; it is more about the ability and authority to act and make decisions throughout the return to work planning journey.

Nominating and appointing a Return to Work Coordinator

So how can a smaller company ensure that they have the right person in place at the right time when needed to undertake the role? Therein lays the dilemma of effectively resourcing the RTWC role.

Here’s a thought to ponder: it might be worthwhile to consider from a ‘hit the ground running’ perspective to always have an up-skilled RTWC ‘nominated’ within your organisation. That way in the event that return to work activities need to commence it could ensure that the process starts quickly and runs more smoothly as the RTWC already has some knowledge and/or training.

And as there is already some understanding within the company that this person is the ‘go to person’ for assistance with return to work, this could then help reduce any barriers or hurdles that might occur in the early stages of the return to work planning.

I often try to put myself in the position of the injured worker: how I would feel if I had worked with colleagues over a period of time and then when injured, I had to deal with a RTWC that I had never met and never built a relationship with, and yet I would be expected to trust them and rely upon them.

A level of trust or the very least, visibility, can go a very long way toward the worker building confidence in the RTWC and in the ultimate return to work process.

But who could the RTWC be? Well, let’s revisit the ‘shared role’ scenario.

A problem shared is a problem halved

We mentioned previously HR Generalists, Health & Safety Managers etc. but there might be other employees within the organisation that could undertake or share the RTWC role.

Draw on other internal resources if you can. Maybe someone in the office, warehouse or factory that might fit the bill but hasn’t been approached? You never know until you ask.

And getting Supervisors/Leading Hands/Production Managers on board and having them undergo RTWC training would be a great approach.

Maybe you are fortunate enough to have an organisation that supports RTWC training for Supervisors?

A large division of an organisation that I worked with had a requirement that every supervisor attend accredited RTW Coordinator training and also set expectations on their involvement in the return to work process.

Now I know that this sounds like nirvana and might be hard to achieve across some organisations. However if you can successfully influence senior management to implement this approach and sell them on the long term benefits, the results will speak for themselves.

Speak to your Agent about tailored RTWC training and/or group discounts. You can find out more about the training offered by RTW Matters here: /products/training-program-managing-return-to-work-for-supervisors.htm

Building an effective RTW platform

Not wanting to preach to the converted, I can only offer some suggestions on what I have seen during my workers' compensation journey. Every organisation is different and so are the requirements in each State/Territory. How each organisation should best approach their RTW resourcing needs might differ, however here a few key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Return to Work Coordinator nominated and/or appointed 
  • Displays the desirable qualities, seniority and competencies
  • Appropriate training provided 
  • Management are on board and supportive
  • Useful and simple tools/templates/checklists are available 
  • Knowledge and understanding kept up to date          
  • Has access to support, advice, information and help  
It’s a free-for-all!

So what help is out there?  

  • Reach out to the Claims Manager - they can assist in helping to understand the RTWC role and responsibilities and the additional support, information and services that are out there.
  • Ask the Agent’s Strategic Injury Management Advisor for guidance and assistance.
  • Do you utilise the services of Occupational Rehabilitation Providers? If so, they too are a font of knowledge and experience. They also have a strong network that you might be able to draw on.
  • Check out the Statutory Authorities in each State and Territory as they have extensive information and services available on their websites. And, they update their sites regularly, so if you haven’t been to their website for while give it another visit. Even go to the ones that aren’t relevant to your region – you will still find information that could be customised to meet your needs.
  • Participate in National SafeWork Week and other such events held in your region. They deliver many valuable information sessions and seminars. Convince other colleagues/supervisors/managers to attend – a sneaky way to keep them up-skilled and ready to ‘help me help you.’ The best bit – most of them are free.
  • Find out if your company is a member of any organisations in your State or Territory that might have resources available? E.g. VECCHI, CCIQ, Self-Insurer Organisations etc.
  • Reach out through your own professional network. All of us working in this industry know others that do the same role and can therefore fully understand and appreciate the complexities of what we do on a daily basis. When I worked in the banking industry we started an ‘unofficial’ workers compensation banking forum of likeminded professionals – people that we could reach out to that undertook similar roles and faced similar situations.
  • And of course, RTW Matters has a wealth of information, tools and advice only a few keystrokes away.

Getting your RTW Platform right really is the key to helping ensure successful and sustainable return to work outcomes. Choosing the right person, providing them with support and making sure that they are provided with the necessary and ongoing tools, information and training is paramount. And there is so much help out there on the how, when, why, who and what, so don’t be afraid to reach out.