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Job Coaching—What is it and how can it help?

Job coaching is on-the-job guidance and instruction that can assist a person to return to work successfully and in a sustainable fashion after illness or injury.

What is involved in job coaching?
Prior to providing job coaching as much information about the job itself and the worker involved is reviewed in preparation for the job coaching session. If possible a job duties analysis (JDA) should be made available to identify the tasks that need coaching and possible modification. (Another good reason to have JDAs completed for every job.) Once on site a detailed ergonomic assessment of the environment and the work practices of the individual is conducted to identify barriers to a safe return to work. Any barriers identified are addressed by coaching safe work practices and by making recommendations for environmental changes. Administrative changes to work practice alone is not always enough to produce a sustainable return to work. Sometimes the environment and aspects of the job need to be changed too. Job coaching should also integrate the graduated return to work by reviewing the graduations in hours and job duties with the worker to ensure that they are on the same page as the employer and medical providers. A thorough job coaching session can take several hours and should occur as close as possible to the worker’s first day back to work.

Why would an employer offer job coaching?
Job coaching may improve return to work success rates by identifying barriers to return to work and strategies to allow for a sustainable return to work. This may occur by reducing the risk of re-injury by educating the worker in safe body mechanics and work practices and by making changes to the work environment or job. Confidence of the worker is also improved by reducing the fear of re-injury by providing self-management tools to the worker. Job coaching and modified work practices may also save the employer costs by allowing for earlier and safe RTW with fewer set-backs. Providing a job coach also gives the message to the worker that the employer is invested in the worker’s successful return to work encouraging the worker to give their best efforts.

What type of situations should have job coaching?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide every returning worker with job coaching even though every worker could benefit. The type of situations that would most benefit from job coaching are long durations away from the work place. The longer the individual has been away from the workplace the more difficult the return to employment becomes. Other situations are individuals with severe physical and/or mental challenges such as an individual after traumatic brain injury or individuals with memory loss. Individuals with mental health concerns would also benefit from coaching to help improve confidence and to identify specific strategies for successful return to work. Individuals with complex claims that have many of the above factors such as a lengthy leave of absence for a severe physical disability with mental health concerns would definitely benefit from job coaching.

Consider job coaching as part of your return to work tool kit along with modified work and graduated return to work plans. If you have questions about job coaching or other topic feel free to contact EWI Works or myself at sthomsen@ewiworks.com

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