I often felt alone and incompetent when I first started working as a Return to Work Coordinator. That I should know more, that I was giving my injured workers and my boss incorrect advice, that I was the one to blame for the injured worker not getting back to work. That I wasn’t getting outcomes. I used to feel like I was way out of my league, even though I came into the role with years of experience as not only a Registered Nurse but a Rehabilitation Counsellor as well. I always felt like everyone knew more than me about the Act, the treatment required, return to work plans, obligations, even what questions to ask at what time. It was stressful.
I wanted outcomes, badly, because I wanted to please my boss. I would meet with the injured worker, do an initial assessment, do a worksite assessment assessing every possible duty the injured worker had ever done. I would meet with their supervisor and proceed to make contact with anyone and everyone involved in the injury. I would google the injury and recommended treatment plans and recovery timeframes and compare this to where the injured worker was at. I got so caught up in doing everything I though my boss wanted, that I actually ended up doing nothing. Well, nothing to progress the injured worker forward in their return to work.
I was the RTW Coordinator who wanted outcomes. I used to set my self targets that I felt I should achieve, that would get my bosses attention. But what was this doing?
- My great outcomes weren’t sustainable,
- I wasn’t creating rapport with my injured workers, and
- I was finding that I was very quickly losing compassion.
Sure fire ways to NOT help anyone. So, what changed….
I soon realised that I had to listen to the injured worker. I had to get their story and work with them to create a plan together aimed at their individual return to work and recovery. I realised that reciting them the Act to scare them back to work was not helping.
I learnt that I had to find a community where we could share stories, share advice and exchange ideas. This was way out of my comfort zone initially but I did it. I travelled to the city a lot, more than I care to remember, but it helped to build my knowledge and created the start of my network. Once I realised the benefits of listening, sharing and asking questions I flourished. The sustainable outcomes flowed, the respect from injured workers and co-workers grew and my feeling towards my role changed from one of resentment to one of passion.
It did not take long for me to know that I had to help other Return to Work Coordinators out there who were in the same situation I was in. Being a Return to Work Coordinator does not have to be lonely, it does not have to make you a ‘yes boss’ person and it does not have to be stressful. Being a Return to Work Coordinator can be a beautiful and rewarding position once you become aware of the skills and attributes you need to enhance to allow you to help your injured workers.
I am constantly increasing my knowledge around being a Return to Work Coordinator so I can continue to help others out there. I provide WorkSafe accredited training that gives you up to date information on the basics of your Role as a Return to Work Coordinator. I have also gone on to create and developed a self-paced online course that gives you skills, knowledge and templates that will take your knowledge beyond the basics, taking your role of a Return to Work Coordinator to the next level.
If you are like I once was, I get it, I know your hunger and your desire to succeed and get the outcomes and I know your frustration in not getting there. If you want to move beyond that, reach out. Get in touch and let’s get you falling in love with your role as a Return to Work Coordinator.