What is the definition of empathy? How is empathy incorporated into your return to work (RTW) program, and if not, how do you propose it changes?
During the 2023 Workers’ Compensation Institute Educational Conference, a panel of experts broke down practical ways to implement empathy in your program. Discover what active/reflective and empathetic listening is all about and learn how to properly track the success of your program.
This session was presented by:
- Debra Livingston – CEO/Founder, ReEmployAbility, Inc.
- Allison Kelly – VP of Business Development, Sedgwick
- Kim Pfingstag – Manager, Occupational Care and Recovery, International Paper
- Greg Hamlin – Senior VP of Resolution, Berkley Industrial Comp
What Is Empathy?
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It is the capacity to relate to what someone else is experiencing. Today, empathy serves as a core principle for organizations in a variety of industries. When acting with empathy, employers tend to find more success from their staff. By placing a stronger value of from the top down, employers empower employees to provide better, more effective services.
Active Listening Matters
Empathetic communication with injured workers is not as simple as a point-to-point conversation. It’s an involved discussion and an attempt to connect with victims, claims handlers, brokers, and other parties involved. Making the effort to hear people out completely helps clear the lapse in communication, improves transparency on all ends, and thus, can help driving savings and efficiencies on the route to recovery.
Fostering an environment that values empathy strengthens the connection with effective, careful conversation. It calls for transparent contact with intent and resolve. Being an active listener requires effort in multiple stages of activity.
The seven critical steps include:
- Being attentive.
- Asking open-ended questions.
- Asking probing questions.
- Requesting clarification.
- Bing attuned to and reflect feelings.
How to Track Empathetic Success
- Identify key performance indicators: Define a measurable objective with each claim scenario.
- Buy in from the top down: Lead by example and show your employees genuine care.
- Record an ROI: Keep a track of all milestones achieved through each phase of the claims handling process.
Practical Ways to Implement Empathy in Your Culture
We must take stock of how organizations perceive the workers compensation process. When approaching health care providers, consider availability of work. Keep in mind the long-term commitment of each case and provide care on an inclusive level.
Finally, prioritize knowledge. Empower your employees with opportunities to learn new skills, processes, and business functions. Take advantage of your resources and tap into your professional network for support. Keep your toolbox full and connect with others within the industry for more guidance and curiosity expanding beyond your organization.