Solutions for Employees Returning to Work – Cost vs. Benefit
When a person is injured on the job or must leave for health reasons, there are many factors that can make returning to work a difficult and often traumatic process. However, returning to work can be one of the best things a person can do to continue the recovery process and regain quality of life.
The Cost to Business
Work disability is a significant cost to Canadian business and employees. On average, most people now sit between 8 to 15 hours a day, with up to 21 hours a day be sedentary when you include sleeping. Studies have shown that if employees modestly increased their activity and decreased their sedentary behaviour, the incidence of chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and cancer would be reduced significantly. (1)
If 10% of Canadians increased activity and reduced sedentary behavior it would lead to a reduction of $2.6 billion in health care costs and an increase of $7.5 billion in GDP by 2040
- Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (1)
Employees returning to work with a disability or impairment will have additional factors that may be aggravated by sitting and sedentary work; this becomes a barrier to returning to the workforce and becoming contributing members of a company. For both existing and returning workers, the cost of inactivity can lead to low employee satisfaction, absenteeism, lost productivity, turnover and a high cost of benefits.
The Front Line - Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals
Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals (2) are leading the charge in delivering sophisticated support that is grounded by a belief in the dignity and worth of all people. These professionals are experts requiring unique multidisciplinary skills to assist persons with functional, psychological, developmental, cognitive and emotional impairments and health conditions to overcome barriers when returning to employment.
The Vocational Rehabilitation Association of Canada, or VRA Canada, works towards solutions for these employees everyday. Integrating solutions that include movement and activity are becoming a significant part of the rehabilitation process.
What are the Solutions?
It is important for employers to consider investing in solutions that with both have a positive impact on health and remove barriers that keep an employee from being able to work effectively. Some of the common barriers to returning employees include sitting, focus and concentration, repetitive strain issues and cardiovascular concerns.
Some solutions that are easy for Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals and employers to implement include:
- Adjustable sit-stand desks
- Balance, rocking and leaning chairs
- Adjustable monitor mounts
- Walking and treadmill desks
- Desk Pedals
- Foot & hand fidgets
Returning to work can be a positive experience for both the employee and the employer. If a collaborative approach is taken to this journey, then the employee will be committed to becoming productive in the workplace and the employer will be committed to providing the solutions to make the transition easier. By including solutions that integrate movement into this transition, everyone will benefit from employees who can perform better in the short term, and live a longer and healthier life in the long term.