How much do most organizations spend to handle the average return-to-work case?
One 2015 U.S Department of Labor study found that the average human resources department serving at least 1,000 employees spends more than $4,800 just in labor costs per return-to-work case. And with the same study calculating an average of 31 return-to-work cases per year (and accounting for inflation), it is pretty safe to say that many are spending far more than they realize.
These figures also do not take into account the lost productivity from handling paper-based forms, the manual generation of reports and missed details and deadlines that could put an organization at risk.
Fortunately, there are more options today to help teams not only take control of the return-to-work process but also to use that data to make decisions and changes to keep employees safe and the organization focused on its mission.
One of the most powerful is the choice to digitize workflows with a flexible, no-code business process platform. So what would that entail, and how could an organization get started on the path toward digitizing the return-to-work process?
How Digitized Processes Foster Employee Privacy and Efficient Workflows
When an employee gets sick or injured at work, several stakeholders get involved immediately, and many key decisions need to be made. There are likely also regulatory requirements and medical recommendations with their own timelines, restrictions and requirements. Needless to say, handling each of these facets manually requires a lot of effort.
In a typical return-to-work case, there are likely five different parties involved:
- The employee-manager, who wants to ensure they properly follow all procedures and help their employee
- The physician, who wants to ensure the employee is getting the medical care they need
- The insurance adjuster, who wants to keep the overall cost of injury down
- The workers’ compensation (WC) team, who is there to investigate any workers’ compensation claims
- The employee, who wants to get well and return to work
Combined, these parties work together to initiate and manage the return to work process, which could resemble a workflow like this:
Each of these stakeholders needs access to the right information at the right time to either meet their obligations or to support the employee during their treatment plan. The information also needs to be secure, accessible across a range of platforms and logically organized and intuitive to handle.
A return-to-work process facilitated with a no-code digitization platform not only gives the professionals that understand and manage the cases the power to design and maintain their own workflow, but it also introduces several other key benefits:
- Increased visibility, communication and accountability from across the return-to-work process allow for case-specific and trend analysis involving internal and external stakeholders.
- Integration and consolidation across the many systems and workflows — digital and manual — involved in managing the return-to-work case into one secure, modern solution bolsters resilience and ease of maintenance.
- Automated routing, rule-based decision points and built-in notifications help to ensure that the right people have the right information and processes to continue moving forward.
- Personalized web-enabled dashboards and employee self-service forms make accessing information easier.
- Automated integration of stakeholder input into centralized case repositories removes the need for separate document handling.
The Benefits of Digitization to Your Bottom Line
While the primary focus is always on how to support an employee as they get their treatment, return-to-work cases can also have a noticeable impact on an organization’s productivity and operating costs.
Nimble and Responsive Processes
If your current return-to-work process involves sorting through emails, texts and documents, the decision to digitize can immediately make a big difference for everyone involved.
Instead of what seems like endless document management, duplicative tasks and manual entry, a digitized return-to-work process can:
- Standardize the initial claim form to help ensure all the necessary data is collected the first time.
- Enable triggerable actions, notifications and reminders to prevent bottlenecks and keep task owners accountable.
- Digitize and secure key records so all information stays confidential and compliant while saving on storage costs.
- Enable accessibility anytime, anywhere — online or offline —so all parties get what they need.
In other words, digitizing the return-to-work process can be a win for all those involved. Employees don’t have to manage mountains of paperwork or wonder about the status of their case. Internal staff members are empowered to design the processes that work for their business and make it easier to meet compliance standards. And all stakeholders can trust that their data and work are being kept safe and secure.
The Impact of Outsourcing
With just a cursory look, the idea of outsourcing return-to-work management may seem like the best financial and operational decision. However, digging deeper into the workflow and costs, this option can be less attractive than choosing to use a no-code process digitization platform in-house.
For example, though cost estimates can vary, outsourcing a return-to-work process can equate to hundreds of dollars per case. While some cases are complex and come with unique accommodations and planning, others are straightforward and involve limited case management and no accommodation actions.
In either case, having a digitized, rules-driven platform can automatically route each claim based on its nature. In turn, an organization can not only help to ensure that the right parties get involved and the necessary tasks start but also that costly, less-personalized third-party services are replaced with a platform simple enough for process owners to design and manage on their own.
Bringing It All Together
Though every organization never wants to have to process a return-to-work case, they need to be ready to not only help their employees get the medical care, treatment and support they need but also to identify the means to do it as effectively, efficiently and productively as their condition allows.
This is where a digitized return-to-work process flow delivers: giving process owners the tools, data and built-in document management and communications features they need to do their job while enabling the visibility that employees and other stakeholders require to play their part. The result is a means to replace a disjointed and inefficient process with one that puts the employee first while also making compliance, deterrence and overall management easier.