For us we have a very holistic approach to
health and wellness within the business. We support both injury and illness and more importantly,
it doesn’t matter what type of injury, whether it be non work related or whether it was a work
related injury, by approaching it in the same way we’re able to make sure that we get the
right health outcome for our team members every time. In our welcome back pack, we have
basically some of those sort of pieces outline that really the more engaged they are in their own
recovery and that they do all of their treatment and that might be stretches at home or whatever
it may be, that we actually see those recoveries a lot quicker, and a lot more durable as well.
For us, it was obviously a very big change and what we actually did was we went to our
insurers and used our standard funding that we have available from them so we’re actually able to
build an entire program for no dollars. We had zero budget we actually introduced everything
mid-way through the year, so there was no actual allocated budget for what we wanted to do, but we saw
the opportunity to partner up with our insurers and say “hey this is what we want to do” and
if they buy in, then they’re actually able to support us. Obviously staying connected
with our team members is massive, it’s important that not only my team has regular contact
and they have one point of contact as far as the health management team, but we also really support
that our regional managers are staying engaged with their team members, and also store managers are
staying engaged if one of their team members was injured, and by providing that support
network for them – they see that we care. The key to a successful recovery for any team
member that is going through injury is to really participate and follow all of the plans that are
actually there, obviously getting involved and using the early intervention hotline but then
following all the directions and planning obviously means that they actually know what they need
to be doing each week, and that we can see those gradual returns. For us returning back into
the store is obviously one of the most important things that we actually do. Our goal is to provide
suitable duties 100% of the time and that’s obviously very aspirational, but we work very
hard on that. So for us we have a culture that really supports our team members back
into the workplace, and we actually have a system called ‘Workers Comp Support’ where we can actually
add additional hours into the store to assist that team member while they’re recovering.
We also do some pretty, I suppose, different things as well, we’ve had team members that
have been unfit to be in the workplace, but Narelle had great communication skills – our
team member – and she was able to write blogs for us, and so she wrote blogs on her recovery and what it actually took to make that recovery
successful. In our welcome back pack we have basically some of those sort of pieces outline that
really the more engaged they are in their own recovery and that they do all of their treatment and that might be stretches at home or whatever
it may be, that we actually see those recoveries a lot quicker and a lot more durable as well. By having a collaborative approach, team members
are more accountable to their recovery. And for us we have a lot easier phone conversations with our team members,
we’re able to sort of really open up and have those discussions about what recovery should look
like. The other people that are involved in the worker’s support team is everyone from our
early intervention provider, but also a major partner in that is our rehab provider as well,
operating across all of Australia and even in remote areas within NSW. What we do that’s
different is we don’t focus on liability, we focus on health outcome. For us it’s definitely
about being involved from the very start, we’ve invested very heavily in early intervention,
to the point where we have a 24/7 hotline that if a team member has a sprain, they can
call through and speak with an allied health professional and be organised medical appointments
instantly and obviously it’s all covered by SFG. So building our program, with our team members
at the centre of everything that we do was able to see us actually achieve some really amazing
results from a financial perspective, with a 33% decrease in our premiums since the program’s
inception. So obviously such a huge return for the business, and while engaging our team
members and basically showing them that we care, it’s obviously been a win-win for the business.
What we actually do kind of matters – and we actually have a really big role to play. No one wants to
be injured and recovery is tough when it’s a type of injury that may take time so by actually
seeing some of those really positive results and through feedback hearing that team members
love what we do and that they feel cared for, obviously takes it away from just being a job that you
do to actually giving you a real purpose , you get out of bed in the morning and you go “this
is cool, what we do is really cool.” The insights that we’ve received from consultation were
it was literally a lightbulb moment where we actually started to say “hey people aren’t really
engaged in what we’re doing” so it was the basis to our entire strategy. Previous to
that we’d be very liability focussed or very compliance focussed, but simply from
that day when we first started consulting we knew that we needed to focus on engagement,
but also the health outcome. And if we get the right health outcome every time, then
we’re going to be a very happy business. My advice for any business that wants to make
a change, is really look at how you’re actually operating, and ask some really honest questions of your
people and actually say “what do you think about what we do?” and I think you might get the obvious
answer at the beginning which is “it’s good” or “it’s ok” but then when you continue to
push a little bit, by having that honest and open conversation with your people you
actually see that you can make some change in a really positive way.

How to implement a return to work program
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