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Are THEY ready? Preparing the work group for the return of an injured employee Alexina Baldini - Psychologist 16 th September 2008 SIAV conference.

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Presentation on theme: "Are THEY ready? Preparing the work group for the return of an injured employee Alexina Baldini - Psychologist 16 th September 2008 SIAV conference."— Presentation transcript:

1 Are THEY ready? Preparing the work group for the return of an injured employee Alexina Baldini - Psychologist 16 th September 2008 SIAV conference

2 Outline Preparation of the team and workplace – prior, during, after injury Workplace systems – micro, meso, macro Identify issues relevant to the particular work group – physical, behavioural, social, cognitive, emotional/psychological, existential Managing the issues for integration

3 Preparation prior to injury Policy Procedures Occupational Health and Safety structures Communication Privacy Confidentiality Training/support of management and peers

4 Preparation continues During the injury period Clear Critical Incident Response/support for all involved In the immediate hours following injury Psychological First Aid Mental Health First Aid Physical First Aid During the first few days and weeks Meaningful contact Updating and ‘keeping in mind’ Over the months and years

5 Preparation – keeping the end in sight What will the successful integration of the injured worker look like? How will work group members behave when that is achieved? What are the specific steps involved? How will the work group celebrate this achievement? How will the support team record this for history? Learning?

6 Perceptions of the barriers and facilitators for RTW Health Services System Workplace System Injured worker system Adapted from Friesen, Yassi & Cooper (2001) Return-to-work: Human interactions and organisational structures Work, 17, 11-22 Economic, Social, Legislative systems

7 Micro-system The injured employee Attitude Behaviours Personal/Family Empowerment Demographics Characteristics Pre-injury work Performance

8 Meso-systems Workplace system Union-management agreement/relationship Workplace milieu RTW program/policies/resources Teamwork and communication Organisational structure “Buy-in” of all stakeholder groups Personality factors Trust and credibility RTW team “sense of ownership”

9 Meso-systems (continued) Health Services System Communication Teamwork Resources Delays Trust Continual need for education

10 Macro-system Economic Funding issues for health practitioners eg. Impact of Medicare rebates on some professions Social Workplace restructuring Generational differences Legislative Compensation parameters Injured worker legislation

11 Identify issues for THIS work group Individualised assessment – not one size fits all BUT – the principles help! Look at broad areas: physical, behavioural, social (observable) then those that you need to listen out for: Cognitive – what are they thinking? Emotional – how are they feeling? Psychological – how do those feelings impact? Existential – what ‘big picture’ messages about the workplace are they taking away from what is happening or planned to happen?

12 Physical Seating arrangements Work location Parking Access Equipment Hours of work Rostering preferential treatment Lighting Noise

13 Behavioural Proximity Duration and intensity of contact Communication considerations Acceptance behaviours Inclusion behaviours Interdependence of work group members Goals of work group

14 Social Connections within the work group Key supports within and outside the group for the injured employee History of connections between sub- groups Predicted impact the return of the injured employee has on the overall group dynamics Desired group dynamic development

15 Cognitive Fears – helping people to express what is on their mind in a constructive non-judgmental manner Concerns - about future capacity to function Education around signs, symptoms and support strategies Ongoing training and development in enhancing work group performance

16 Emotional Need for reassurance – particularly for middle management Approachability – that no aspect of the return to work process cannot be talked about/raised with key personnel Relationships – imperative to help all members of the work group feel that they belong and are valued

17 Psychological Rejection versus acceptance Resentment versus embracing the challenge of integrating the injured worker Blame of management/RTW personnel versus empowerment of team members Rumours versus clear communication of the needs of all

18 Existential Importance of work in a person’s life Integral role of successful return to work initiatives to the overall workplace culture Professed values of the workplace versus values demonstrated in action Individual values including empathy and other-centredness

19 Two injured employees Both female nurses Both in mid 30’s Both mothers of young children Both soft tissue injuries – back/neck Both in workplace for more than five years Both well liked and respected Both skilled in their professional role

20 Two work groups Quick access to expert health professionals Management effectively communicating with staff every day Open communication between work group members Strong achievement history of work group Clear identity as a collaborative group Quick access but frequent changes in health professionals Management ‘waiting to retire’ Infrequent staff meetings – often cancelled or postponed Work group members needing to ‘watch their backs’ Suspicion, ingroups and outgroups

21 Integration Initially returned to work after a week but needed to take more time off Returned part time after three weeks Gradual incremental time and complexity of tasks increased over two months Fully back three months later Team celebrated her full return Did not return to work until four months later Found she was “on the outer” and that it was difficult to find out information Struggled to feel that she was part of the team and vice versa Often cited her injury as the reason she could not do tasks Open resentment from team members

22 Promoting worker health Teamwork is vital – facets include: Emotional Stability Adjustment Self-esteem Extraversion Dominance Affiliation Social perceptiveness Expressivity Openness Flexibility

23 Promoting worker health (continued) Agreeableness Trust Cooperation Conscientiousness Dependability Dutifulness Achievement Driskell, Goodwin, Salas, O’Shea (2006) What makes a good team player? Personality and team effectiveness Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 10, 249-271

24 Managing the issues Preparation for integration from orientation of a new work group member – expecting successful outcomes and working towards them Valuing the RTW process – at every level of the organisation Individualised assessment of each situation Communication – consistent and open Coaching – of work group and worker Positive relationships between stakeholders

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