Each year, there are over 340 million occupational accidents and 160 million victims of workplace-related illnesses, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). For companies, these incidents cost over $151 billion annually in revenue, compensation and lost productivity. However, for the employee, the cost can be much greater. The National Safety Council estimates that a worker is injured every 7 seconds on the job, and for some, these injuries can be life-changing and, more specifically, career obstructing. Besides the medical impact, the career uncertainty that a workplace injury can bring can be daunting, as you find yourself hovering in between careers and low on income. Many people find themselves wondering what their options are for leading a successful career post-injury and where can they find support.
Well, you may be surprised to find out that help and options are readily available, and simply waiting to be explored.
Look Into Your Financial Future
With a workplace injury and your ability to continue in your current career hampered, the issue of income will no doubt come into the spotlight. Although most workers have employment and sometimes private medical insurance, there will still be expenses to be taken care of throughout your recovery and while you decide on your next career move.
If you have a family or own a home, your mortgage and general household expenses will be some of the more pressing costs. Because of this, it is important to secure your finances as soon as possible after the incidents. Contact the HR department or recheck your employee contract to clarify the terms of any workers comp insurance provided, the process for claiming and its timeline. Many employers may need to do an investigation, leaving you with a gap that will need to be filled. This is where your savings and rainy day fund will come in useful. Most professionals recommend saving at least 6 months’ worth of expenses, specifically for incidents such as this.
You may also need to rely on credit targets such as credit cards to bridge the gap. However, be mindful of their use, since high-interest rates and missed payments can end up doing more harm than good. Finally, look into other income streams, such as having a family member move in and contribute towards the bills; local council grants specifically for injured workers; or setting up passive income streams, such as renting out your car/parking space.
Consider Retraining For A Different Career Path
When an injury is impeding your return to your current career but you are not ready to hang up your working shoes just yet, its time to consider a career move. This option is not that uncommon, regardless of your career stage. In fact, the average person changes careers 5-7 times. Start by thinking of careers that fit in with your current capability going forward, and also that seem appealing to you. Career fairs and online career websites are great places to start collecting the needed information on the requirements to get started. As for the retraining aspects, many local colleges or even online platforms now offer courses in many different disciplines to get you started.
Alternatively, you can speak to your supervisor and HR manager at your current employer about a role re-designation or moving to another part of the company to do an office job. In some cases, employers will even pay for the additional qualifications and training along with providing on the job mentorship needed to make the transition.
Seek Professional Advice On Your Physical and Mental Capabilities Going Forward
Finally, speak to medical and career professionals on what your career future looks like. Workplace injuries may have long-lasting physical impacts that will rule out certain careers. It is important that you also consider your mental state post-accident in relation to the workplace and profession. While some injuries may heal, many employees find themselves being left with mental trauma and PTSD. A professionally trained therapist (often covered by your workplace plan), can help you work through those feelings and come to a place of clarity on whether you can continue working in similar environments (even if it is in a different role) or are better off having a complete switch in career scenes.
You must remain focused on the future and direct your energies on the best way to move forward. Work-related injuries can have a serious impact on not just your employment, but your entire life. However, rebuilding your life and career is completely feasible, and these simple steps can help with the process.