Role and Responsibilities of Supervisors in the Sustainable Return to Work of Workers Following a Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorder
Supervisors play an important role during the return to work (RTW) of injured workers. Yet little research has been done on the actions associated with this role or the contexts in which they are taken. The purpose of this study was to develop courses of action to promote supervisors’ involvement in the process aimed at achieving sustainable RTW for workers following a work-related musculoskeletal disorder (MSD), and to verify their pertinence, feasibility, and applicability in practice.
A two-phase qualitative method was used. (1) Secondary content analysis of 46 interviews of 14 workers post-MSD and 32 other actors in the RTW process, conducted during a prior case study, yielded proposals for courses of action composed of specific actions for supervisors. (2) The pertinence, feasibility, and applicability of these courses of action and specific actions were explored, first, through a self-administered questionnaire to initiate individual reflection, and later in greater depth through focus groups to identify the different contexts in which they might be applicable. Thematic analysis was performed for each phase.
Eight proposed courses of action, including specific concrete actions and conditions influencing supervisors’ involvement, were developed by the researchers and generally perceived as pertinent and feasible by the participants. Several aspects of the organizational context appeared to influence implementation of these courses of action within the organizations.
Organizational context appears to influence the application of these courses of action, as do the conditions under which they are implemented.