Many green businesses are very small operations. Every employee is an extremely valuable team member who normally wears several hats. When a fitness or other injury makes a team member unavailable, everyone suffers. So, it benefits everyone when injured employees are still around.
Your employees probably feel the same way. Many of these individuals probably gave up higher-paying jobs to work for a cause close to their hearts. They want to be in the office as badly as you need them there.
Boss and injured worker both want the same thing, but how do you make it happen? Your employees deserve more than “walk it off”. Here are a few suggestions.
Before you immediately skip to the next section, take a moment to consider the cost-benefit ratio. Statistically, many workplace accommodations are free, and the average one-time cost is less than $600. Partially because of the negligible investment, and partially because other injured employees can probably use the same tools, three-quarters of employers say that these accommodations were either “extremely effective” or “very effective.”
To make injured employees more comfortable, and therefore more productive, while they’re at work, consider physical accommodations like:
Underdesk Keyboard Drawers: This simple accommodation is outstanding for people with carpal tunnel syndrome or other wrist issues. Typing with the wrists below the elbows significantly reduces strain on these vital nerves and tendons.
Supportive Chairs: Persons who are either dealing with back problems or recently underwent back surgery will be much happier if their chairs have sufficient lumbar spine support. Waterfall chair cushions often make a difference as well, because they limit stress on the thighs.
Mobility Assistance: While you shouldn’t reuse a steerable knee scooter for another injured worker, the accommodation is well worth the additional investment. Tools like these that have applications outside the workplace are extremely popular with workers. It’s almost like a Christmas gift.
If cost is a major issue, many green business workers are willing to shoulder some of the financial burden. Don’t be afraid to ask; the worst they can do is say “no.”
Bend, But Don’t Break, the Rules
Many offices frown on telecommuting because it’s difficult or impossible for remote workers to effectively collaborate with office workers and feel like they are part of the team. Skype and GoToMeeting only go so far, especially among older workers who don’t feel an emotional connection over a digital communication channel. Since remote workers often use open Wi-Fi connections, security may be an issue as well.
But as a temporary solution, remote work may be the answer. While full participation may not be an option, people can get a lot of work done with an internet connection and a laptop.
Make it clear that the permission to work remotely is limited to a certain number of days and a certain employee for a certain purpose and that other workers in the same situation might be eligible for the same accommodation. If you aren’t specific, everyone may want the same exception.
A good physical therapist can help an injured worker get back to full speed a lot faster. Many people have connections in this area. Health insurance companies usually pick up the tab, so cost should not be an issue.
Sometimes, the best injury recovery resources have no cost at all and are located right under your roof. Encourage workers to take time off when needed, and also encourage them to get back in the saddle as quickly as possible. Remind them constantly that they are missed and needed at work. They’ll respond to that call.
Workers inevitably get hurt, and you have the power to help them get better.