Access to health recovery services reduces short-term illness duration

Though each of us hopes to remain injury- and illness-free during our careers, inevitably there may be a time when a short-term absence from the university due to illness may be necessary. Recovering from an illness or injury can be challenging. Developing a collaborative and proactive back-to-work strategy can lead to better health outcomes and a quicker return to the workplace.

“The Canadian Medical Association recognizes the importance of a patient returning to all possible functional activities relevant to [their] life as soon as possible after an injury or illness. Prolonged absence from one's normal roles, including absence from the workplace, is detrimental to a person's mental, physical and social well-being.”

The return-to-work consultants within Human Resources collaborate with managers, supervisors and employees to create effective and sustainable plans to facilitate returning to work from an illness.

“[The plan] allows me to ensure the return to work is smooth and successful, and ensures that any needed changes to the return-to-work plan are documented and brought to my attention,” says Margitta Dziwenka, Assistant Director of Health Science Laboratory Animal Services in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.

 Having a return to work consultant helping me and my staff has allowed for more efficient and effective updates to required services to ensure staff return to work as soon as they are able to, rather than asking the staff to try and navigate a sometimes complicated landscape of WCB and/or medical providers.  

Margitta Dziwenka, Assistant Director of Health Science Laboratory Animal Services in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

92% of employees and 95% of managers/supervisorshad a positive experience with the services provided

In the 18 months between January 2019 and June 2020, HR managed more than 1,275 return-to-work and illness leave cases. As a result of our proactive recovery support and early intervention, the duration of short-term illness absences has reduced from an average of 69 days to 51 days over the past five years—an estimated savings of approximately $3 million.

Reduction in average duration of absences over five years = 18 daysEstimated savings ≈ $3 million

“This program is extremely valuable with respect to time savings and efficiency,” adds Margitta. “It minimizes the back and forth with WCB and medical providers so that I get the information I need efficiently and my staff have a point of contact they can rely on to assist them.”

If you or your employees need more information about our return to work services, contact recovery@ualberta.ca.