Advocacy and Engagement: 4 Reasons Why and 7 Ways to Do It

Advocacy and Engagement: 4 Reasons Why and 7 Ways to Do It‘Advocacy and engagement’ is much more than a buzz term in the workers’ compensation system. It’s a concept that can easily cut 5 – 10 percent of your workers’ compensation costs. Not only that, but companies that embrace the idea are more profitable than those that don’t – 16 percent more, according to some estimates.

 

With approximately 70 percent of workers feeling disengaged from their companies, the task of persuading injured workers to take a vested interest in the post-injury process may seem daunting. But there are simple things organizations can do to engage their workers and reap the benefits.

 

 

What it Is

 

Advocating for injured workers and getting them engaged in the claims process means focusing on them as human beings, rather than viewing them as ‘claimants’ and being interested only in the dollars and cents part of it.

 

Engaged injured workers are a vital part of the process, starting at the beginning of the claim. Rather than having conversations about the injured worker, claim discussions need to include the injured worker. The ‘us vs. them’ approach needs to be eliminated. The goal is to get them healed and back to function. The vast majority of injured workers share that objective.

 

 

Benefits

 

Selling the idea of advocacy and engagement to the C-Suite should not be hard, once the benefits are explained. In addition to overall happier employees, studies bear out many positive outcomes among injured workers in companies that have an advocacy-based model.

 

  • Faster return-to-work rates. Injured workers heal faster when they are truly engaged in their recoveries. Rather than being passive and having things done to them, they are actively involved in their own treatments, which gets them back to work sooner.

 

  • Less litigation. Part of the engagement process is educating the injured worker on what to expect, along with his rights and responsibilities. Understanding the process and having consistent and constant communication eliminates the majority of reasons an injured worker hires an attorney. Reduced litigation can be a tremendous cost saver, as studies show attorney involvement increases the cost of a claim by an average 4.5 times.

 

  • Better network penetration. Engaged workers are more likely to go to a physician of your choosing, even in states without employer-directed care. There is a level of trust they feel and will listen to your suggestions.

 

  • Improved morale. Injured workers who feel they have been well taken care of during their absence have a positive attitude upon returning to the workplace, which typically spreads to coworkers.

 

 

Tactics

 

The idea of treating injured workers nicely and with respect should be a no-brainer. But the reality is many companies and/or key members of an organization view injured workers negatively, even with disdain.

 

Dealing with the logistics and paperwork is often seen as a deterrent to meeting production deadlines. Many view the injured worker as someone just trying to game the system.

 

Research shows that a small percentage of injured workers fit this description, but nearly all have the same interests as top managers; to recover and get back on the job as quickly as possible.

 

Best practices for engaging injured workers include:

 

  1. Staying in touch with the injured worker starting from day one and then on a consistent basis is vital to show a worker the company truly cares about him. Ideally, the supervisor or manager with whom the worker is close should call the worker. That person and other colleagues should continue the dialogue with phone calls, get well cards, and the like.

 

  1. Along with communicating with the injured worker is active listening. The injured worker may ask questions, express concerns or air complaints. It’s important to hear what the injured worker is saying and reflect that, without engaging in combative dialogue.

 

  1. Education/information. Injured workers don’t know what to expect, are worried about their financial and job security and are in pain. They need to be made aware of the process for them to be engaged. The best way is through an employee brochure that is given to workers upon hiring, and then again if and when they become injured.

 

Here are some additional advocacy strategies organizations use to better engage their injured workers.

 

  1. Onsite care. While a fulltime onsite clinic is ideal, ergonomic evaluations, biomechanics and stretching programs for workers can help them improve their physical stamina and make them feel engaged.

 

  1. Telehealth services. Some companies have a private room with a computer available for workers to speak privately with a healthcare provider. Employees given this option feel their companies truly care about their wellbeing.

 

  1. Nurses and triage. A telephonic triage system for workers who sustain on-the-job injuries is invaluable. A nurse can determine what treatment is appropriate and, at the same time, make the injured worker feel someone is there to help.

 

  1. Partner with other departments. The benefits side of an organization may offer programs that help workers feel more engaged in the company and have a sense that the company cares about them. Examples include:

 

  • Back health, where employees call a number, explain their symptoms and are given specific exercises. This is especially helpful since back injuries are among the most costly in the workers’ compensation system.
  • Second opinions. Some wellness programs include a second opinion to workers free of charge. These can be extended to injured worker as well as those not hurt at work.
  • Family health assistant. Some companies with a whole health model provide a number for workers to call for advice on health-related problems of anyone in the family.
  • Employee assistance programs are available to all workers and can be a tremendous benefit for injured workers who want to talk with someone about financial, familial or other concerns.

 

 

Conclusion

 

The value of engaged employees – especially those who become injured – are clearly borne out in the research. Companies that rethink their attitudes and demonstrate caring and concern for their employees can benefit tremendously.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2018 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

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