injured worker holding leg

Improving the Workers’ Comp Experience

I recently read an article published by The Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation that addressed how business leaders in the healthcare industry typically invest significant time and resources to create positive corporate cultures, engage employees, and earn their trust and commitment to success. They went on to say that in the workers’ compensation segment of the industry, all too often, the focus seems to be on conflict instead of caring.

As someone who has worked in workers’ compensation for over 20 years, this article hit home because even today some employers feel that they must treat an injured employee differently than any other employee. Archbright strives to assist our members in developing strong advocacy based corporate, human capital, safety, and workers’ compensation cultures. Businesses use advocacy in establishing their corporate cultures by driving engagement as a key performance indicator. And, although this has been a long-standing concept for business success, it is a change in philosophy for many businesses as it relates to workers’ compensation.

According to Alan Pierce, J.D. – Workers’ Compensation Attorney at Pierce, Pierce & Napolitano, below are 4 of the top 10 reasons injured employees retain an attorney when involved in a workers’ compensation claim:

  • No contact by the employer
  • Lack of modified duty and/or hostility of coworkers
  • Employer and employee dissatisfaction
  • Loss of health insurance and other benefits

The commonality of these four issues is that employers could immediately change the situation. By shifting the workers’ comp culture to an advocacy style of claims management, dignity, respect, and transparency are elevated. When injured employees feel that the employer is engaged in their recovery process and well-being, there is often an expedited healing process that results in mutual satisfaction.

What does advocacy in workers’ compensation look like?

A claims advocacy-based culture should make access to benefits simple, which will build trust and promote organizational values. Components of the program include:

  • Communication: Communicating more effectively with the injured employee from the very first interaction sets a higher probability of a successful claim outcome.
  • Transparency: Incorporating transparency throughout your workers’ comp program helps the injured employee navigate the complexities of the workers’ comp system, and lessens their uncertainties, anxieties, and fears.
  • Setting expectations: Establishing parameters from day one so the injured employee knows what to expect, what their responsibilities are in the process, and who to contact throughout the life of their claim.
  • Objectivity: Establishing an objective person who is not necessarily the same individual who will be adjudicating the claim can help the injured employee feel supported during the process.
  • Generational awareness: Developing a mode of communication that supports the need to deliver information based on different communication styles. This can be a critical aspect in a multi-generational work environment.

Whether you are seasoned in managing employees in the workers’ compensation arena, or you are new to a role that includes this responsibility, Archbright can assist you in ensuring that you have established an advocacy-based workers’ compensation program for your company. Archbright’s upcoming virtual class Understanding Workers’ Compensation and Controlling Costs, helps employers navigate the complexities and misconceptions of the workers’ comp system and simplify the return-to-work process.

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Wendy LeClair

Wendy LeClair, WWCP is Archbright’s Manager of our Workers’ Compensation Claims Services Department. She has over 30 years of experience in Corporate Risk Management, Workers Compensation Claims Management (WA, AK, CO, ID, ME, NJ, OR), and Retrospective Rating Program Cost Containment Analysis. She has utilized her experience working for a City Municipality, a national Moving Company, a major Cruise Line, and has been at Archbright for 16 years. Wendy received her Washington Workers’ Compensation Professional (WWCP) Designation in 2006. She was appointed to the Washington Self Insurance Association’s Board of Regents in 2011, where she was involved in the development of the curriculum for the WWCP Certification Program and other training offerings. She also acts as a Lay Representative at the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, for Employers enrolled in our Workers’ Compensation Services. Wendy is adept in providing training to Company Management, Supervisors and Leads on the importance of stakeholder communication with regard to return to work and establishing advocacy-based engagement of all stakeholders in the workers’ compensation process.