Back in the 1980s it seemed like adjusters settled down right when they were hired. Most spent decades at one employer, maybe two tops and that was only because their initial employer was bought out or merged.
Today if you look at an adjuster with over 10 years of experience their resume reads like some sort of professional baseball player that spent time with every team under the sun. Mr. Adjuster started off at one place, and then hopped to another after a few years, then another, and another, and so on. Plus, most of the adjusters I know are always looking for another employer even when they are currently employed.
Human Resource experts say it takes a ton of time and investment to train new hires. If it is indeed so expensive and time costly, then why are employers so quick to let these adjusters jump ship? Why has this lack of loyalty happened? It is hard to say. Blame it on more involved management. Blame it on the lack of adjuster autonomy within the claims handling experience. Maybe blame it on increased technology and the fussiness of the adjuster in general. Whatever the case may be, here are a few reasons for overall faded adjuster loyalty and perhaps a few ways to retain some great talent that could be sitting right under your roof.
1. Lack of a new-hire mentoring program
If you start off at a new employer, chances are you are eager to please. After all, the employer must have seen some sort of promise to hire you. But, if you are not taught the correct way to handle claims under your new roof, it can be frustrating. Especially if you think you are making progress at your new employer only to have done something incorrectly and you have to go back and fix all of your errors.
The implementation of a mentoring program has its benefits. This way someone with the same job title as yourself can walk you through the process a few times, until you have the routine down on your own. This idea sounds great on paper, until you are the person stuck training the new guy. As if you were not busy enough, now you have to take up hours and hours of your day training someone while the emails and phone calls at your desk pile up taking you days upon days to catch up.
The creation of an effective mentoring program that involves several people is key. This way no one person is stuck with the mentoring burden. The more work that piles up on the trainer’s desk, the less time they are going to help the new worker. They probably won’t do a lackluster job if they know they only have to commit a few hours a few days per month helping out the new guy.
Another good key is to involve an upper-level manager to oversee the program as a whole. This way the new worker gets to know their superior, and it also shows some initiative on the part of upper level management which should decrease the negative connotation from the other veteran adjuster peers grumbling about the fact that “Nobody else ever helps to train new employees, why do I get stuck doing it?”
2. Give the new hire a flow sheet with people to answer questions in all aspects of their job
To reduce errors, the new hire needs to know who to turn to if they have a question. Of course an adjuster has to wear a lot of different hats while working their desks, not only for claims investigation and compensability, but for billing reconsideration questions, legal questions, state form filing questions, IT technical support, and so on. It is not fair that coworker, Sam Adjuster, has to get their day interrupted with every little question from the new person. If you take the time to give the new people contacts in every department, the new worker can email whoever is on their chart with the appropriate question.
Once you get a good flow chart in place, it can probably be used for multiple departments, thereby helping the efficiency for everyone as a whole. Who do I contact to stop-payment on a check? Who is the attorney we use in Wisconsin? Who do I contact if I have a state form filing question? My reports are not printing, who is the IT person I can email? The answer to all is to check the chart and email or call the people delegated to champion those questions and provide the proper answers so all work can be done correctly the first time.
3. Try to hire the person with the right personality for the desk
I know a lot of adjusters. All of these adjusters have different personalities and different ways of arriving at their conclusions on claims. Some adjusters, even though they have years of experience, always go to their supervisor for permission to do certain things on a file. They probably know the right thing to do, but this type of adjuster likes to get something from their manager in the files notes just in case this file spirals out of control, or if a denial backfires into flames costing thousands and thousands of dollars. This type of adjuster is employing a strategy called CYA, or “Cover Your Butt.” This way if upper level management wants to roundtable a file, this adjuster can point to their manager and say “Well we discussed this action plan and agreed this was the thing to do.”
As a manager, if you know that your company likes this sort of CYA protocol in a file, you should try and hire a person with this type of claims handling personality. The last person you should hire in a scenario like this is some sort of rogue adjuster, who likes to do things their way and prefers to be left alone during the claims process. If you do indeed hire this rogue, you know that they are not going to last in this sort of CYA claims environment. They are going to be miserable going to their manager asking for the OK do to surveillance or to deny benefits, and probably as soon as you finish training this person they will be giving you their resignation. So try to gauge the personality of the adjuster given the requirements of the desk to make a perfect match that will hopefully have the outcome of a longer-term employee.
4. Are your claims managers really managers, or just control freaks?
Some managers probably have no business being a manager. They do little to lead their team, and instead want to be involved in every claim decision on every file, no matter what the exposure. This may be the way that certain carriers want their claim teams to be lead, but I disagree with the effectiveness of this type of claims program. It is simply not efficient, and not effective. When this type of management occurs, adjusters become little more than paper pushers, just answering calls and processing bills. The manager is actually the adjuster in this scenario, with their claims team being little more than glorified, perhaps over paid, assistants.
Nothing will irritate an adjuster faster than the lack of autonomy of their claims. They are the ones doing the investigation, talking to the involved parties, going over the medical, and so on. It makes sense that they should be involved in the direction of the claim. The manager should be there to field questions, help with compensability, and provide input and potential outcomes but not to make every single decision on every claim. This is probably the biggest factor in adjusters polishing up their resumes on company time. If adjusters are dissatisfied with their ability to govern a claim, they will be out the door as soon as possible.
I am positive there are a billion other reasons out there as to why adjusters are so quick to jump ship. However, I think if you focus on these facts stated above, you can stop that revolving door, or at least slow it down.
Having adjuster turnover is a huge problem for carriers/TPAs since these new employees have to start the process over on all of your current claims. This takes time, costs money, and provides for little customer satisfaction. If you were the client of a carrier who has had 10 adjusters assigned to your claims, how happy could you really be with the service they are supposed to be providing you and your injured employees?
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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