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Benefits of returning to work

Research has shown that getting back to work is a vital part of recovery that benefits your health and wellbeing in many ways. This is the same whether your injury or illness is physical or psychological.

Being absent from work or unemployed for a long period of time can have a negative effect on how you feel. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians research tells us the longer you stay away from work, the less likely you are to go back.

If you’re off work for:

  • 20 days - 70% chance of returning to work
  • 45 days - 50% chance of returning to work
  • 70 days - 35% chance of returning to work

If you can stay at work after an injury, or get back to work gradually while you recover, you’re more likely to recover quicker and be able to get on with your life.

Staying connected to your workplace, even if your work tasks are adjusted, means you can maintain a daily routine and get back some control and independence. This helps with your physical recovery as well as supporting your mental health and general state of mind.

Getting back to work can mean:

  • going back to your old job
  • working reduced hours
  • changes or adjustments to your duties
  • going to a new job or role.

An early return to good work, if you are able, is proven to be far better for you than staying at home to recover.

What is good work?

‘Good work’ is work that provides you with positive health benefits (physical, mental, and emotional). It aims to balance your needs with those of your employer and society in general to ensure good outcomes for everybody.

There are four elements (domains) of good work. Not all of these need to be present for work to be ‘good’ as they don’t apply equally to all jobs.

  • Engages workers: when an employer engages with their workers it creates a positive workplace culture.
  • Engaging community: good work is also positive for customers, family, extended networks, not just the worker.
  • Fairness and transparency: good work happens in a workplace that values respect and is free from discrimination and bullying.
  • Work design: there must be a good match between the worker, the demands of the job, and the support available.

Benefits for workers

  • Health and wellbeing is supported.
  • Mental distress is lessened.
  • A successful return to work is more likely.

Benefits for employers

  • Staff feel more positively about being at work.
  • Workers are more likely to engage and be productive.
  • Workers are less likely to take time off or retire early.
  • Return to work outcomes are greatly improved.

Read more about Good Work.