The workers’ compensation professionals that attended the Alliance of Women In Workers’ Compensation event prior to the WCRI conference in Boston last month, were treated to a thoughtful and engaging session about how hugely successful multi-billion dollar self insured companies have effectively created work environments where workers are supported at all times pre and post injury.
Painting a Picture
Some of the presenters shared how reinforcing the workers ‘value’ and ‘purpose’ in each of their roles within the company, pre and post injury, accelerates return to work. Others shared the success of having on-site medical facilities intimately familiar with all jobs and physical requirements, and how they were available for immediate care and return to work coordination. In each of the examples shared by the presenters, the employer efforts and empathy translated into large reductions in workers’ compensation costs and increased employee satisfaction.
At times, the discussions were spiritually uplifting. Giant, hugely profitable, sophisticated employers using resources to create entire departments dedicated to “doing the right thing” by each worker. I began daydreaming about the future of workers’ compensation, where suffering an injury at work becomes a positive experience…..and then…(queue the turntable needle scraping across the record), I snapped out of it.
Sure, these companies are “doing the right thing” by their employees and I applaud them for recognizing how an advocacy based workers’ compensation program creates a much more positive experience for the injured worker and saves big bucks in claims costs.
Small Business implications
However, according to The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, “In 2012, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, there were 5.73 million employer firms in the United States. Firms with fewer than 500 workers accounted for 99.7 percent of those businesses, and businesses with less than 20 workers made up 89.6 percent.”*
If I’m reading that correctly, employers with more than 500 workers make up 3/10 of 1% of employers in this country and that almost 90% of those employers with less than 500 employees, employ less than 20 workers. I had to ask myself, “How can we apply this forward thinking, innovative approach to the 90% of American employers that don’t have the resources of a massive, Fortune 500 company?”
I believe that there is an application to small business and it comes down to insurance agents getting more involved in helping their customers understand the value of reinforcing ‘purpose’ in their small work force. Those same agents and brokers are in the perfect position to help their customers understand how treating every injured worker (no matter how they feel about them personally) with respect and concern will translate into a more positive workplace culture, better productivity and lower workers comp costs.
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When the agent becomes a trusted advisor of the employer, educating and assisting them with those strategies, they’ll build loyalty in addition to making the insurance adjuster’s job easier and more gratifying while significantly reducing claims costs…..which would reduce premium…and why wouldn’t carriers be willing to pay a greater commission for that high performing piece of business?