Skip to content

Creating a culture where workers will seek help

Safety capability can increase the likelihood of an injured or ill worker seeking help to recover and return to work (RRTW) due to the social and organisational support available to them. This includes co-workers, supervisors and others involved in the RRTW process.

Injured or ill workers should feel comfortable asking co-workers for help during their RRTW. Low levels of co-worker support can pose a psychological health risk to workers during their RRTW. Help workers recover by promoting inclusivity at the workplace and encouraging workers to support each other.

The Mentally healthy workplaces toolkit (PDF, 11.45 MB) has guidance materials and practical resources to help you create a positive work environment to support workers recover from a work-related injury or illness.

Look for opportunities to develop greater team commitment. Share your vision for a supportive workplace and encourage workers to ask for help if they experience a work-related injury or illness. Plan activities that promote strong and cohesive teams, such as:

  • professional development to build team unity and cooperation
  • icebreakers and get-to-know-you activities amongst teams
  • workplace wellness challenges or events (e.g., step-count challenges, fun runs)
  • hosting a team lunch, a coffee catch-up or other social event.

An injured or ill worker may need the help of their supervisor as part of their RRTW. Help may involve practical assistance to solve problems or advice on how to resolve issues or concerns. It may involve listening with empathy to a worker. Low levels of supervisor support can pose a psychological health risk to workers during their RRTW.

To help a worker recover, ensure their supervisor is involved throughout the RRTW process, including during the development of a written suitable duties program.

Ensure supervisors contribute to the RRTW process and actively help the injured or ill worker throughout their recovery.

If a worker feels they are not supported by their supervisor, this can lead to uncertainty, erode trust, and can undermine a worker’s RRTW. Workers who feel comfortable asking for help will generally achieve better RRTW outcomes.

Building Stronger Teams - Supporting Effective Team Leaders (PDF, 0.09 MB) is a resource that can assist with understanding the principles of effective communication, understanding personal interaction styles and guidance to engage with workers on health and safety issues, and how they can provide support during recovery and return to work after an injury or illness.

An injured or ill worker may seek support from other people at the workplace to help them RRTW. A Person-Centred Approach, where the worker is actively involved in their RRTW planning, is more likely to succeed.

A RRTW plan should focus on the injured worker. Employers should seek input from injured workers to ensure the primary focus is on them, and they feel comfortable to seek organisational support.

Make your RRTW process flexible and adjust it to suit the worker’s needs and make them feel comfortable.

Involve injured workers in RRTW planning. Have open conversations with them to help understand and manage their expectations and fears. Many factors can impact RRTW, so seek to understand the workers’ individual needs, including who they feel comfortable engaging with at the workplace to overcome barriers.

Encourage injured workers to talk about their goals and suggest solutions. Where a solution is not possible, be clear about why, and work together to explore other options. By providing ongoing support to the injured worker and monitoring progress, this will help them successfully return to work.


View the Resources page for information and tips on how to improve your systems and processes to build your safety capability and understand your legal obligations.