Engaging injured workers in their own recovery and claims process makes practical sense. The more engaged, the more likely they will participate in positive behavior, helping them return to work sooner. But in a world of rapidly-changing technology, measures for engaging workers must evolve — or be doomed to fail.
In the opening keynote session at the 2016 National Workers’ Compensation & Disability Conference, Tim East, Director of Corporate Risk Management at The Walt Disney Company, explained how responding to changing demands and expectations provides clues for how workers’ compensation must evolve to keep pace with the claims experiences that workers will demand.
According to East, there are three primary ways the industry needs to adapt:
1. We need to start thinking about our injured workers as our clients.
How we refer to things affects the way we think about them. “Claimant” or “applicant” dehumanizes the injured worker that we are, ultimately, here to help recover and return to work at the same or better condition than they were when they became injured. The industry is starting to embrace the advocacy-based claims model, which focuses on communication, transparency and a simpler process to access benefits. The model holds the organization accountable for results beyond mere cost containment.
2. We need to change the claims process to a claims experience.
The industry needs to shift focus to providing encouragement and assurance, alleviating fears and uncertainty, and create an atmosphere of informed employees focused on self care and recovery. We need to become advocates for our injured workers and that means shifting our focus to service. We cannot be so focused on red flags, that we cannot see the people behind the red flags. That means becoming less investigatory and more understanding.
3. We need to change our workplaces so that the claims professionals can be the most effective.
Our workers are changing. People no longer want to be cogs in the paper-pushing process. They want to actively help people. In addition, every person in the process wants and needs to feel like they are important and that they are being heard. Your claims staff is on the front line of changing the industry. They must be empowered to do so in a meaningful way.