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.