Returning to work after an injury or illness can be a major step forward in an employee’s recovery. But can employers be doing more to support these employees?
Speeding up the road to recovery
A person’s job can be an important part of who they are. So it’s no surprise that there are many benefits of working, including social inclusion, a feeling of contributing to society and family, a familiar routine, as well as financial security1. Re-entering the workforce has been shown by studies both here and overseas to improve and enhance: general health and wellbeing; self-esteem; self-satisfaction; self-rated health; as well as mental and physical health2.
However, for the thousands of Australians who don’t return to work after sick leave each year, the long-term health problems may be just starting, according to the Medical Journal of Australia. As well as the original health condition that took them out of work, a person who is off work for significant periods can become isolated and depressed, experience family disruption, loss of self-esteem, lower quality of life and become unemployable in the long term3.
Counting the cost of illness and injury
As people live longer, and work longer, companies are facing a challenge of how to support their employees and build their resilience. They invest heavily in time and resources to be an employer of choice, in order to attract and retain the best talent.
But when illness or injury strikes and an employee is forced to take sick leave for an extended period of time, it’s easy to start counting the costs – not only to employers, but also the broader economy. Lost productivity figures alone are enough to raise concern to employers and economists alike. In Victoria, workplace injury and illness caused 189,000 years of lost working time in the 14 years from 1995 to 20084.
While indirect costs can be harder to measure, they can add up for employers. This includes lost potential output; loss of current and future earnings; the impact on team engagement and any associated productivity loss; as well as the cost of providing social welfare programs for workers5.
We’re helping change the trend, one step at a time
When faced with the prolonged absence of a sick employee and the web of associated legal obligations, employers are often indecisive or scared into making hasty decisions6. So it’s not surprising to see that our national return-to-work rates have not improved for the past 15 years, according to SafeWork Australia7.
Changing the trend requires a unified approach – from the employee, the employer and the insurer. As one of Australia’s leading insurance companies, AMP is committed to paying genuine claims. But we also know there’s a lot more we can be doing.
How the AMP team is helping your employees get back to work
For those employers that have AMP insurance, AMP's ultimate aim in protecting our customers is much more than paying a claim. Not only are we there when they need us most - but we want to help assure their future quality of life as well. That means helping remove the barriers that often prevent people from resuming an active, productive life after illness or injury – which can be a win-win for your employees and your business.
With this in mind, we are transforming our approach to claims—making it employee-centred by focussing on returning them to a fulfilling life. By helping them sooner and more proactively, we assist them in recovering faster.
- AccessAMP - making it easy and stress free to make an insurance claim
Our new AccessAMP team is an employee’s first point of call when they need to claim. At a time when they are probably already stressed with life’s events, a highly trained team member will start by having a simple conversation to listen and understand where the employee is at, what has happened and what they think they need.
We’ll take the time to explain what’s going to happen next and we’ll also talk about extra support services they could benefit from. We won’t expect them to fill in countless forms.
- Continuing a tailored approach
We set them up with a personal case manager. This case manager is dedicated to working with the employee throughout their claim right through to their recovery.
Case managers are supported by recovery specialists who all have healthcare backgrounds. They identify employees who would benefit from a recovery program and support them to get back to activity as soon as possible in a way that is right for them.
In 2014 AMP’s new approach saw us help over 1,500 people return to work, which is more than 50% of all claims finalised and an increase on the year before. Feedback from employees tells us we are working in the right direction.
Helping Dee with her recovery and return to work
Last year Dee, a 53 year old from Hervey Bay, went through an extremely stressful and challenging situation and suffered from post-traumatic stress. At first she kept working, thinking that staying busy would help. But soon everyday chores became increasingly difficult so she went to her doctor who confirmed it was time to address her situation. She contacted AMP for help.
‘From my very first phone call with AMP I was shown courtesy, empathy and respect. I had one case manager who worked with me throughout. She helped to organise counselling and a whole range of support options that l didn’t know existed. As my strength slowly increased, l was keen to get back to work.’
Based on the guidance and support provided by her AMP case manager, her rehabilitation counsellor and doctor who all partnered together to create a return to work plan, Dee was able to return to work. This was initially on a part‑time basis to ensure Dee could manage. After continued support, Dee is back at work full time.
For more information on how AMP can help your employees return to work sooner, speak to your AMP representative. To notify AMP of an employee’s claim, call us on 1300 366 214, Monday to Friday 8.30am – 5.00pm AEST.
1 Australasian Faculty of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (AFOEM), Consensus Statement on the Health Benefits of Work, 2011.
2 Is work good for your health and well-being?, Gordon Waddell & A Kim Burton, 2006.
3 Reducing the impact of unemployment on health: revisiting the agenda for primary health care, Elizabeth Harris and Mark F Harris, 2009.
4 What’s behind our failure to return more injured people to work? Alex Collie, Monash University, 2013.
5 Australasian Faculty of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (AFOEM), Consensus Statement on the Health Benefits of Work, 2011.
6 Prolonged sick leave "triggers" OHS obligations: Case study, HR Daily, 15 April 2010.
7 What’s behind our failure to return more injured people to work? Alex Collie, Monash University, 2013.