This session from RIMS 2023 examined two often overlooked factors that contribute to poor workers’ compensation outcomes.
- Kimberly George, Global Head of Product Development and Innovation at Sedgwick
- Bryon Bass, Senior Vice President, Workplace Absence at Sedgwick
Stress and anxiety can have dire effects on workers’ compensation outcomes, impacting areas like tissue healing, rehabilitation efforts and, ultimately, return to work. There are several influencers that cause stress and anxiety, including pain, fear, financial issues, family issues, the stigma of being injured, and more.
There are evidence-based strategies for modifying employer and workers’ compensation stakeholder behavior to reduce injured worker stress. First, we must listen and engage our injured workers to determine what is going on in their lives. This will help to understand how we can best assist them in recovery, have empathy, and engage the right resources. Telephonic case management, behavioral health case management, field case management, and an empathetic adjuster are beneficial for injured workers that struggle with stress and anxiety. Helping them get top notch medical care, knowing their TTD and pay processes, and other items important to the injured worker can be a big benefit to minimizing stress and anxiety during the claim, which in turn leads to engagement and compliance.
The workers’ compensation advocacy model offers the following building blocks to an effective approach:
Finally, for employers, adapting an empathetic, biopsychosocial approach to their full wellness programs can result in positive outcomes. What is the corporate culture? Are they addressing solutions to drivers or stress and anxiety? Human Resources and executive management often have messaging directed towards caring for workers in general, wanting workers to take PTO to enjoy time away from work. They are often offering flexible work to account for life situation like illness of children and parents, for example, that keep an employee from being fully present from work. Additionally, most employers are offering EAP or awareness of similar resources, mental health care, financial acumen, investing resources and other support for improving and managing wellness to stay healthy.