Workplace Social System and Sustained Return-to-Work: A Study of Supervisor and Co-worker Supportiveness and Injury Reaction

Objective: To examine the impact of the social workplace system on sustained return-to-work (SRTW). Methods: A random sample of workers' compensation claimants was recruited to complete a survey following claim acceptance (baseline), and 6 months later (time 2). SRTW, at baseline and time 2, was classified as those reporting being back at work for >28 days. Co-worker and supervisor support were assessed using five and seven items, respectively, and total scores were produced. A list of potential supervisory and co-worker reactions were presented to participants who were asked whether the reaction applied to them; response were coded as positive or non-positive. Demographic and injury characteristics, and work context factors were collected. Baseline and at time 2 multivariable models were conducted to examine the impact of supervisory and coworker support and injury reaction on SRTW. Results: 551 (baseline) and 403 (time 2) participants from the overall cohort met study eligibility criteria. At baseline, 59% of all participants indicated SRTW; 70% reported SRTW at time 2. Participants reported moderate support from their supervisor (mean = 8.5 ± 3.9; median = 8.2; range = 5–15) and co-workers (mean = 10.2 ± 4.5; median = 10.3; range = 5–25). Over half reported a positive supervisor (59%) or co-worker injury reaction (71%). Multivariable models found that a positive supervisor injury reaction was significantly associated with SRTW at baseline (OR 2.3; 95% CI 1.4–3.9) and time 2 (OR 1.6; 95% CI 1.1–2.3). Conclusions: Promoting supervisor positivity towards an injured worker is an important organizational work disability management strategy.

Source: Jetha, A., LaMontagne, A. D., Lilley, R., Hogg-Johnson, S., Sim, M. et Smith, P. (2018). Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 28(3), 486-494.

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