You may recall the soap opera, As the World Turns. Well, the Alternative Transitional Duty (ATD) World Turned one Monday in March 2020. Suddenly our essential and non-essential ATD work site partners had to decide how they were going to adhere to their state’s “Shelter in Place” or “Stay at Home” guidance.
How did this affect our Recovering Workers placed in the ATD sites? Suddenly these entities that previously provided positions for our Recovering Workers coast to coast, were identifying and developing protocols for their employees and potentially our ATD Recovering Workers. During this time, the Vocational Consultants at CompAlliance and these employers were in constant contact. Because of the excellent partnerships with these sites and the employers/insurance carriers we work with on a daily basis, everything went as smoothly as possible. We were even able to identify some new ATD sites for our Recovering Workers. Following are a few Case Studies that illustrate the potential for ongoing placement in ATD work sites.
Case Study #1
One ATD site had accepted and initiated a job for a Recovering Worker in an office and clerical support position. Since the Recovering Worker had completed orientation and was already set up within the employer’s IT system, this ATD site reached out and requested approval for this worker to continue working with them in an at home work setting, and outlined the planned process and goals. The Vocational Consultant collaborated with the referral source and employer, obtained approval, and the Recovering Worker continues to work from home for the ATD site. This unusual solution did require a few extra telephonic and email contacts, over and above what would be the normal process for coordinating a transition to an ATD position. Follow up contacts were conducted with the Recovering Worker to ensure an effective transition, as this employee had never worked from home. Tips to ensure success were discussed, which were appreciated by this worker.
Case Study #2
Meanwhile, on another coast, an ATD site considered nonessential had to be suddenly closed in order to adhere to strict nonessential requirements for that state. The employer of injury decided to allow the Recovering Workers to return to the worksite. The ATD site stated they had appreciated the work ethic of these Recovering Workers, and noted once the ATD site reopened, they would be happy to have these Recovering Workers return. They also stated after this experience, they would consider allowing other Recovering Worker transition to their full functional capabilities at their place of employment in the future. This objective information was documented in the files for these workers, was shared with the employer of injury, including the appreciation of the quality of work performed at the ATD site. When possible, this positive feedback is always obtained and shared with the employer and referral source, since this information is frequently added to HR files. We see this type of positivity frequently during a Recovering Worker’s stint during ATD. It is anticipated as the restrictions for nonessential employers change at this place of employment, the Recovering Workers may be transferred back to the ATD site(s) as needed.
Case Study #3
In other cases, some of the Recovering Workers who could not be accommodated at their employer of injury, and had been previously placed in what was now considered a nonessential location, were transferred from nonessential to essential positions. The Vocational Consultant had to think outside of the box in these instances. Using their long-standing collaborative relationships with a variety of ATD sites considered “essential”, they were able to identify different opportunities for transitional employment, even if it was slightly outside of the usual norm for accepted travel time. The Vocational Consultants were able to present these alternative positions to the employer of injury and referral source, with the advantages of continuing transitional duty.
In addition, the Vocational Consultant was able to place additional Recovering Workers – two of the workers remain in transitional duty and two returned to full time regular employment.
Final result: even in the most restrictive states, CompAlliance has re-placed ALL Recovering Workers in alternative appropriate essential positions!
We were very proud of these outcomes. We believe the Key elements to this success included….Relationships, Trust on the part of all parties, Timeliness, and Constant Collaborative Communication.
Information for this article was provided by Karen Kane-Thaler, MS ED, CRC, LPC. We look forward to introducing you to our Vocational Team in a separate article next week.