At the 23rd Annual National Workers’ Compensation & Disability Conference in Las Vegas, Teresa Bartlett, M.D., SVP, Medical Quality at Sedgwick offered strategies for managing workplace absences through engagement and high-quality care.
According to Dr. Bartlett, there are four keys to employee engagement that can be used to engage injured, absent and disconnected employees, producing dividends for employers:
- Strong leadership with a clearly-communicated vision.
- An involved management team that provides direction.
- An atmosphere where employees feel that their opinion is needed and valued.
- A company that has integrity and clearly follows their core values.
She says that creating a culture of wellness cannot be achieved once a year at open enrollment. It needs to be embraced at every level throughout the organization throughout the entire year. Leadership should “walk the talk” when it comes to wellness initiatives so much so that it naturally becomes a way of work life within the organization. The way to achieve this is through strong and consistent messaging to employees, followed by supportive actions.
According to Dr. Bartlett, safety and wellness impacts three factors that are very important to every organization:
- Costs – related to healthcare, productivity, absenteeism, workers’ compensation.
- Quality – which suffers whether it be someone less skilled filling in for an absent employee or a worker who is at work but not focused or present.
- Morale – when people are not at work, others around them can feel like they are left to pick up the slack.
She states that quality care in healthcare is important to keep injured employees engaged. If an individual needs to seek care, the focus should be on quality and company should ensure high-quality resources like on-site medical, nurse triage call lines and web resources.
Management of network providers is also a very important factor. It is crucial for employers to first communicate expectations to the provider, then to have clear measurement standards and tools in place to understand the quality they are receiving from their providers.
According to Dr. Bartlett, high-quality care includes:
- Great communication is skills (how they relay the message to the employee can have a huge impact on the employee’s psyche).
- Stay-at-work options.
- Frequent return-to-work discussions (early and often).
- The ability to identify barriers (are psychosocial issues present?).
- Partnerships with other quality healthcare providers.
- A results-over-discounts attitude (in the end, what is most important to the employer?).
- The ability to stay connected with the injured worker (regular management. communication works wonders – if the employee feels missed and needed, their attitude changes).
Safety National’s “Conference Chronicles” showcases the educational content from risk management industry events around the nation, providing highlights from sessions so that those not attending can benefit from the insights and trends shared by industry thought leaders.