The professional periodical CFO released a recent report that provided interesting insight into the impact of employer-employee relationships on workers’ compensation outcomes. The report reviewed the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute’s (WCRI) studies on work relationships and how mistrust among injured workers affected disability duration.
The object of the study was to identify predictors of worker outcomes to help employers and health care providers improve the treatment and communication that workers receive after an injury.
Studies Identify Trust as a Major Factor
The WCRI report noted: “The studies, Predictors of Worker Outcomes, found trust in the workplace to be one of the more significant predictors that have not been examined before.”
The method in which the researchers attempted to identify the level of trust or mistrust in the worker-employer relationship was simple and straightforward: they interview the workers who had been injured on the job and asked them if they were fearful of getting fired as a result of the injury.
Below are some of their findings.
- Roughly 20 percent of workers who were concerned about getting fired said that they were not working during the researchers’ interview. In contrast, only 10 percent of workers’ didn’t have those concerns were not working at the time of the interview.
- Employees who fear losing their job because of their injury experience poorer return-to-work outcomes than workers without those concerns.
- When workers are worried about getting fired, there is a four-week increase in the duration of disability.
- Workers who were very worried about being fired were far more dissatisfied with their care (21 percent) compared to workers who weren’t worried (9 percent).
- An estimated 23 percent of workers who were concerned about being fired said they had problems with access to medical care, compared to 10 percent of staff who weren’t worried.
- Sixteen percent of employees who were concerned about getting fired had significant earning losses. Only three percent of workers who weren’t worried about getting fired reported great earning losses.
The take-away from the WCRI studies is that when workers are mistrustful of their job security after an injury, these outcomes are more likely.
- Longer period of disability
- Greater loss of income
- Poorer quality medical care
- Poorer access to care
CFO speculates that the outcome of these studies shows that “workers reporting a strong fear of being fired might know they have a difficult relationship with their supervisor. That difficulty might translate into fewer opportunities to return to work or more active management of the nature of medical care and the selection of healthcare providers.” Basically, work injury treatment improves with communication.
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