Taking time off work after an injury can be a demoralising experience, as work is often a core part of a person’s identity. Being away from the workplace and disconnected from work colleagues can create feelings of isolation and impact wellbeing.
Research shows that a recovery in the workplace is better for the injured person and supports improved mental health. Employers play a key role in making the recovery a success.
For injured employees who’ve had a good recovery experience, staying connected to work was vital. Mayu Tanigaito, a Principal Dancer with the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB), explains that staying in touch made all the difference.
“Connecting with work means connecting with people. Even not talking about your injury, just casual chatter with people, having coffee with them. Those things help get you motivated, and you feel like you're still living your life.”
After suffering an injury, Mayu went on a recovery at work programme involving ACC, the RNZB and health providers. The ballet company organised alternative work duties for Mayu while she recovered, including visits to retirement villages where she taught movement programmes to the elderly residents.
Carl Perry, a teacher from Waikato, was also on a recovery at work programme after snapping his Achilles. With the support of his employer, the programme meant he could coach from the sidelines and teach his classes for most of that time.
“Being able to work in some capacity enabled me to feel like I was still completing tasks. It gave me a sense of purpose while I was injured.”
ACC explains that the sooner an injured person gets connected to work, the better it is for their mental and physical recovery.
For employers, recovery at work can mean retaining skills and expertise and saving on recruiting and training new staff. It also helps build a positive work culture and shows a commitment to employee wellbeing.
ACC offers support and resources for employers to help them understand their role in recovery at work. This includes online quick guides on topics like compensation payment, finding alternative duties and understanding medical certificates. Templates to help develop a workplace recovery plan are also available.
To support better recovery at work at your workplace, check out ACC’s online recovery at work hub.
You can also watch Mayu and Carl tell their recovery stories.
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