The Rehabilitation-Culture Relationship

We feel empowered when we have a say or at least an opportunity to discuss our role and impacting factors.

Connection and involvement is important in any relationship.  We feel empowered when we have a say or at least an opportunity to discuss our role and impacting factors.  The risk of isolation and deterioration of the workplace connection becomes very real the moment an employee is off work due to a work or non-work-related injury or illness.


The statistics on return to work figures* indicate the likelihood of an employee returning to work following a work or non-work-related injury or illness, decreases the longer the employee is out of the workplace.  For an absence of 20 days, the likelihood of the employee returning to work is 70%.  At 45 days, this reduces to 50%.  Once absent from work for 70 days for either a work or non-work-related injury or illness; this likelihood of returning to work, ever, is a mere 35%.


The best way to shift these figures and increase retention in the workplace is to focus on the benefit of employees recovering, where possible, in the workplace.  This practice can provide a positive influence on employee quality of life and that of their family.  By limiting the amount of time out of the business the risk of isolation decreases, and the workplace connection is facilitated.  This also has an impact on potential mental health issues that may arise from the workplace absence.  This practice works best where there is an established workplace culture inclusive of all employees and abilities plus the proficiency and flexibility to think outside of the box for suitable duties.  This is not always the easiest thing to achieve but it can be done.  If this is too much for your business right now, what can be done with relative ease, is the identification of one person who is responsible for maintaining regular contact with employees who are out of the workplace.


This may be HR, a Team Leader, Operations Manager, Site Nurse or anyone else designated by the company to contact the employee on a regular basis with the intent of maintaining contact and facilitation of inclusion through touching base and updating them on any work changes or goings on.  It’s about establishing the process of calling regularly but ensuring you obtain the employee’s permission e.g. I will give you a call next Friday morning, is that okay?  Contact such as this is beneficial in reducing mental health risks and facilitating a swift, safe and healthy return to work.  This in turn reduces the disruption to an employee’s family, work, and social life as well as benefitting the hip pocket and overall financial security which again, assists in reducing mental health risks.  For the employer there is a benefit to employees participating in rehabilitation as this can reduce the impact on productivity, reduce turnover, loss of skills and knowledge, plus retraining expenses and insurance costs.


Focus on small steps to start with and build that culture of inclusion.  Done right, this will grow just as a garden does when it is watered.  Culture will only grow based on the input it receives.  Focus on this and weed out the processes that are not conducive to employee engagement or are negative mindsets and roadblocks to rehabilitation in the workplace.  By making culture a priority you will grow a business that has greater positivity, productivity and return to work figures as opposed to a business harbouring a limited-contact, negative culture.  Get the culture right and as Peter Drucker says, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Statistics, quotes and more information (