WCRI Recap: 3 Factors That Most Impact Worker Outcomes

WCRI Recap – 3 Part Series

  1. WCRI Recap – Impact of Donald Trump and 2016 Election
  2. WCRI Recap: 3 Factors That Most Impact Worker Outcomes
  3. WCRI Recap: Single Biggest Factor To Turn-Around Opioid Crisis

It’s been two weeks since the WCRI Conference recently held in Boston. I’m Michael Stack with Amaxx and today I want to give you some highlights and recap from that recent conference, from the notes that I took and the perspective that I had on it. The second session was about worker outcomes and what impacts, based on studies and research to define the best outcome.

 

 

What are those factors that we can address? For me, this was the most interesting and impactful session for what I do, which is work with employers, insurance brokers and educating best in class programs. This session is one that I found extraordinarily valuable to get an understanding of, what are those things that impact the outcomes that we can address at the beginning a claim and make sure our success is that much more likely.

 

 

Single Biggest Factor That Impacts Claim Outcome

 

This is a study I’ve quoted a number of times. It was published by WCRI a few years back and they came out with a study and said, “The biggest single factor based on their research that impacts the outcome of that claim is trust.” The biggest single factor that outcome impacts the outcome of a claim, is the amount of trust between an employee and an employer. Hugely important point. Hugely important factor to understand. Now, we’ve seen that one before.

 

 

 

How Does Supervisor Respond to Injury?

 

Glen Pransky from Liberty Mutual gave a presentation about some of their research and their studies. I found it extraordinarily interesting and valuable. Here’s what they came up with. Two different things that impact their outcomes, one of the biggest factors, all things being equal, if how does the supervisor respond to the injured worker at the moment that claim is reported. I’m going to say that again. How does the supervisor respond to the injured worker at the moment that that claim is reported. Do they respond with blame and anger and frustration? There’s that lack of trust there. They’re not trusting that the employee maybe said they get injured and they say, “Yeah, right. You didn’t get injured. Get back to work.”  Or, “How could you do that wrong? You are now in trouble.” That lack of trust there. So, how does that supervisor respond to that injured worker at the time of injury? All things being equal, if they respond positively, it’s going to have a significantly better claim outcome. If they respond negatively, a significantly worse claim outcome. That was number one, “How does a supervisor respond to the injured worker at the time that claim is reported?”

 

 

 

How Does Insurance Adjuster Respond to Injured Worker?

 

Number two, how’s the insurance adjuster respond or how is that first interaction with the injured worker go? Are they using big insurance words that the injured worker doesn’t understand? Things like adjudication and calling him the claimant and all these different things that really foster this lack of trust that they’re going to be taken care of. So, if there’s all these things that they don’t understand and they don’t know what’s going to happen, what are they going to do? They’re going to make sure their rights are protected. They’re going to call an attorney and they’re going to be going down this path which makes the claim that much more complicated, because they had a poor interaction with a supervisor and their adjuster’s causing him all this adjudication. They say, “I don’t know what’s going on. I better look out for myself.” So, how you responding to the injured worker, how do those communication interactions, things to train on, things to work on.

 

 

 

Do You Think…

 

Here’s the next piece, which I thought was extremely interesting and something you need to input, impact into your program today. Starting today, do this on every single claim. Here’s what it was, they asked this question, it’s a highly predictive question of the outcome of that claim, “Is do you think, you’ll be back to work within four weeks without any restrictions?” Do you think, you will be back to work within four weeks without any restrictions? Do you think you’ll be back to work in four weeks without any restrictions? Highly, highly predictive question to ask of what that outcome of the claim is. If they say, “no” then you get to ask them why. “Why don’t you think you’ll be back to work?” You can bring in additional resources and support to drive that. If they say, “yes” then they’re setting that expectation in their own mind and it’s only going to drive that success to get them back to work. Highly predictive question and response to that claim’s outcome, “Do you think you’ll be back to work within four weeks without any restrictions?” Start asking that question, every single one of your claims today.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining

 

©2017 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.

NIOSH Webinar Q&A: Not Everyone Wants To Return To Work

NIOSH Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies recently hosted a webinar, Return to Work: A foundational approach to return to function, based on the IAIABC Return to Work whitepaper (access whitepaper here).  The goal of this session was for speakers to share the benefits and possible strategies for workers’ compensation stakeholders to work toward developing, implementing, and/or supporting return to work as an integral part of return to health.

 

There were many questions from the audience, find response below:

 

Question: Do we see any plans to try to include the employee’s general practitioner in a case to be a part of the team with a goal of function? 

 

Michael Stack: The recommended best practice in working with medical providers is a working partnership between the employer, employee, and provider. 

 

Vickie Kennedy: This partnership can be supported by the regulator, and facilitated through services offered by the insurer. 

 

Michael Stack: Each party plays an active role in returning an injured employee to work.  Depending on state law, this medical provider may or may not be an employee’s general practitioner or a provider of their choice. In addition, this practitioner may or may not have an understanding of occupational medicine, or the employer’s pro-active return to work program, if there is one.

 

Employers are encouraged to gain cooperation from medical providers by developing a good working relationship with a local clinic; invite the provider to your facility, provide job descriptions, and demonstrate commitment to returning employees to work.  When an employee is treating with their general practitioner, this physician should absolutely become a part of the team with a goal toward return to function.  Employers can help form a relationship with this provider by providing information about your company, transitional duty program, and commitment to employee’s well-being.

 

Vickie Kennedy: Insurers can assist this effort by helping employers develop return-to-work programs and light-duty jobs before injuries happen, and by offering incentives for bringing a worker back to a job while they heal.  These services are particularly critical for smaller employers.  They can help workers maintain motivation through relationships with claim managers and by providing vocational support and counseling.

 

 

Question: An example: a clinical patient care RN tears a rotator cuff, department accommodates the restrictions during the slow season, shows up late and spends much of the time texting. After surgery the worker is again accommodated with restrictions but shoulder outcome goes downhill resulting in encapsulation and restrictions of no movement away from body and lifting only 5-10 lbs. Then the restrictions went to no use of the arm.

 

Our hospital had no deskwork outside of her department, you’re not saying that a job should be created to accommodate a worker are you? The department had to fill her position after 6 months as there was not improvement on the horizon.

 

Michael Stack:  The three keys to return to work are Individual, Creative, and Flexible. 

 

First, an employee that is on transitional duty should not be treated any differently than an employee on full duty. What is the consequence of showing up late and texting on full duty?  This same consequence should apply on light duty.

 

Second, while this hospital has a return to work program, it is not effective. Employees should be put in a position that is productive for them and the company.  What are this person’s individual talents and skills? What are some productive tasks that can be completed that no one has time for? ASK the employee and supervisors for ideas, there are likely many productive jobs she can do. Without knowing the circumstances of this case, the failure of the first return to work position could have impacted the failure of this employee’s recovery.

 

Finally, your question regarding creating a new position falls under the ADA laws.  For workers’ compensation purposes, light duty should last no more than 90 days and be progressive throughout that time frame.  Under the ADA, can she perform full duty with a reasonable accommodation? If the person does reach MMI and still can’t return to full duty, even with a reasonable accommodation, then the employer must consider reassignment to an existing vacant position, as a reasonable accommodation.  If there is no work that the person can do, even with a reasonable accommodation, then he/she may be terminated.   

 

 

Question: It seems that you risk an employee claiming a new exacerbation when they are returned when they would rather not be at work, sad to say, not everyone wants to work.

 

Michael Stack: The assumption that an injured employee wants to be out of work may or may not be accurate.

 

Vickie Kennedy: There are several factors that may be at play here: the worker’s fear of re-injury, their relationship with the supervisor and the supervisor’s support for the employer’s return-to-work program are just a couple of examples.

 

Michael Stack: The best way to ensure compliance with a return to work program is to communicate your policy before an injury occurs, then reinforce the process at the time of injury.  Most employees have not had a previous workers’ compensation injury, so they don’t know what to expect.  A simple employee brochure outlining your policy, the employers’ role, and the employees’ role is an effective tool.

 

If the employee truly doesn’t want to return to work and has accrued annual or sick leave, then he or she has the right to use it just like other employees.  And if the employee is entitled to FMLA leave, then the employer would need to provide the required leave.  But if the employee has no leave available, and if everyone agrees that the return-to-work assignment is consistent with the employee’s medical needs, then the employer can require the individual to return.  It would be just like requiring someone who hasn’t been injured to come to work, even if he or she would prefer to stay home.*state laws vary, please consult your attorney.

 

 

Access IAIABC Whitepaper: Return to Work: A Foundational Approach to Return to Function 

 

 

Author. Vickie Kennedy, Assistant Director of Insurance Services for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries in the US. Vickie manages one of the nation’s largest workers’ compensation insurers. She oversees approximately 1,000 employees involved with L&I’s State Fund workers’ compensation functions including Claims Administration, Employer Services (Policy and Account Management), Health Services Analysis (management of provider fee schedule and medical cost containment efforts), Office of the Medical Director, and the Self-Insurance program. Contact: Victoria.kennedy@lni.wa.gov.

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining.com

 

©2017 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.

Utilize Different Return To Work Approach For Different Employees

During the course of business, employers will find that all employees are not the same.  Speaking differently to each employee in order to get the same result is normal and necessary to keep business flowing steadily each day.  It only stands to reason that the same approach should hold true when working with employees to get them quickly and safely back to work after a worker’s compensation claim.

 

 

Different Return to Work Approach For Different Employees

 

There are many different return-to-work programs that can be utilized, but they should be matched with specific employees’ personalities to get the most successful results.  While one employee may respond well to several phone calls a week, another may find that to be too intrusive.  Finding the balance is the key to getting employees back to work.

 

There are primarily four different employee personality types ranging from fully satisfied to completely unsatisfied.  The four types of employees:

 

  • Satisfied-Active– one who is happy and needs no coercion or prodding to return to work.
  • Satisfied-Passive– one who is happy, but complacent with staying out of work.
  • Dissatisfied-Passive– one who is unhappy, but does not willfully concoct schemes to stay out of work. However, they may take advantage of the system to stay out longer.
  • Dissatisfied-Active– one who is very unhappy with his/her situation and will actively attempt to take advantage of the system.

 

The majority of employees will fall under one of these description categories and will respond similarly to different return-to-work strategies.  Handling each situation according to the personalities of the employees is the best tactic.

 

 

Suit The Personality Of The Employee

 

For example, a satisfied-active employee might be someone who has not missed a day of work in 10 years, plays on the company softball team, and is always looked to as a go-getter.  A workers comp claim might be perceived as a setback to this type of individual and little or no interaction from the employer will be necessary in order to get him to return to work. A recommended strategy is to send a get well card and work in partnership to provide a productive transitional duty position; activity such as aggressive surveillance can have the opposite effect and make the employee unwilling to return to work.

 

An active-dissatisfied employee in the same situation will take a completely different approach and have a higher likelihood to abuse the system.  Employers of active-dissatisfied employees will need to take a much more agressive approach including implementing fraud prevention measures, hiring investigators, and having almost constant contact with the employee in order to get him back to work.

 

Without using a different return to work approach to suit the personality of the employee, the employer can inadvertently stall the process.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining.com

 

©2017 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.

Return-To-Work: Create a Win/Win in Your Work Comp Program

Notwithstanding the conventional wisdom, injured workers of any age have an interest in returning to work.  Sadly this is often an over-looked part of many programs as employers and interested stakeholders focus on other issues.  Now is the time to change this thought process.  This is based on the reality that any workers’ compensation program can create a win for everyone by focusing on return-to-work.

 

 

Challenges When it Comes to Return-To-Work

 

There are many challenges employers and other stakeholders face when creating or revamping their return to work program.  Due to these barriers, the people in charge of the program decide to move on and focus on other aspects of their programs.  Some of the main challenges faced by workers’ compensation programs include:

 

  • The aging American workforce. Continued anemic economic growth places pressures on the average American’s pocketbook.  This has changed the thought process by employees, as they get older.  When an injury occurs, employers and members of the claim management team face challenges of extended vocational rehabilitation, the possibility of retraining and the ugly specter of a permanent total disability (PTD) claim.

 

  • The ongoing opioid drug epidemic. Change will only occur in the overuse and abuse of prescription opioid-based medications only when the hearts and minds of Americans demand real action.  Until that time, all parties charged with the role of defending a workers’ compensation claim will need to keep an eye on this issue.

 

Countless other factors impact workers’ compensation claims management.  One practical and fundamental solution is to reduce the costs in a workers’ compensation program through an effective and efficient return-to-work program.

 

 

Return-To-Work: Creating a Win/Win Mentality

 

The beauty of an effective return-to-work program is that it reduces the inherent tension within the adversarial workers’ compensation system and creates a win for everyone.  While it may take some work, the cost savings are immense.

 

 

Creating a Win for Employees

 

Countless studies demonstrate that an injured work, regardless of age or time spent in the workforce, want to return to work following an injury.  When a workers’ compensation program is set up correctly, there is a “win” for the employee.

 

  • Productivity: If an employee is able to return-to-work, they remain productive.  This leads to a sense of satisfaction for anyone recovering from even a severe workplace injury.

 

  • Maintaining a Consistent Work Schedule. There are numerous intangibles associated with a consistent work schedule.  Instead of sitting at home while they recover, people who are working, even reduced hours, have a more positive attitude.

 

  • Feeling safe allows anyone to be more productive.  Safety and security in knowing you have a job results in greater financial and emotional security.

 

 

Creating a Win for Employers

 

A well return-to-work program also creates the sense of a win for employers.  This allows the stakeholders on this end of the equation to see value in all employees—regardless of ability or restrictions.

 

  • Decreasing Work Comp Exposure. Once and employee demonstrates the ability to return to work, the future exposures in any program dramatically decrease.  These savings are found on the indemnity, vocational rehabilitation and medical portions of a claim.

 

  • Effective Cost Containment. In addition to decreasing costs, an effective return-to-work will allow the program to better anticipate future expenses and effectively allocate scarce resources.

 

  • Employee Retention. Any successful employer retains its employees and reduces the loss of institutional memory from leaving when turnover occurs.  Keeping employees on the job following an injury also allows that employer to spend less time and money identifying new talent and recruiting new employees.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Employers seeking to reduce their workers’ compensation program costs need to make an investment in their return-to-work program.  It also has numerous benefits that reduces the tension of the workers’ compensation progress and allows for all involved to win.

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining.com

 

©2017 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.

Top 5 Take Away Points 2016 National Work Comp & Disability Conf – Part 1

Top 5 Take Away Points 2016 National Work Comp & Disability Conf – Part 1

Top 5 Take Away Points 2016 National Work Comp & Disability Conf – Part 2

Top 5 Take Away Points 2016 National Work Comp & Disability Conf – Part 3

 

Hello, Michael Stack here with Amaxx. So I just got back from New Orleans, Louisiana; I might be too much of a Northerner to pull off that pronunciation, but nevertheless it was a great time and very valuable time spent at the National Work Comp and Disability Conference last week.

 

 

It’s Not The Time Spent At The Conference, It’s What You Do With That Time

 

We spent a lot of time and we spent a lot of money to attend this conference. Very valuable networking, very valuable meetings, very valuable sessions, but it’s not about the time spent there, it’s about what you do with that time that was spent there, whether it’s follow-up appointments, whether it’s follow-up conversations, or whether it’s taking some of the information from the sessions and now implementing that in your program.

 

 

Take Away Point #1: Return To Work To Heal

 

So I want to talk to you about my top five take-away implementation points from the sessions that I attended. The first point then came from Marcos Iglesias, the medical director at The Hartford. He talked about this idea through his presentation. It was all about really this understanding of the culture of return to work in a program. He talked about return to work to heal, not heal to return to work. So return to work to heal, not heal to return to work. That mindset, that methodology through the workforce, though the medical providers, and through the culture of a company, huge take-away point. Transfer now to the Teddy Award winning presentations.

 

 

Jennifer Massey from Harder Mechanical Contractors. She talked about this idea, and it was very much in the regards to this challenge that a lot of employers have to say, “Well, we don’t have any transitional duty. There’s nothing that we have available for our guys. We would return them to work but we just don’t have any jobs available.” So she took that job, and their company is very unique in that they’re very specialized, highly-skilled, union contractors. Some would say that’s an impossible scenario to deal with, but they’ve had 17 million hours without a lost time plan, very significant stat.

 

 

Here’s how they do it. They engage their workforce to work together to define and create meaningful transitional duty jobs. So if you look at their work force, very skilled labor, maybe they have a highly trained skill in Skill A. But maybe they also have a skill in Skill B or Skill C, and they can work together to engage their workforce, there’s a high level of trust, they have this idea embedded in their culture that return to work to heal for the benefit of the employee and the benefit of the company.

 

 

Both sides get it and both sides are engaged in this creative process to engage the workforce, understand what their skill set is, match them up with a need in the company that’s meaningful for the company and meaningful for the individual to now get that person returning to work so that they can heal. So very significant take-away point in really that mindset, and then action of how you do that in a program.

 

Continued…

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

Say NO to “No Work” Doctor Diagnosis in Workers Comp Claims

The treating physician is the “gatekeeper” to return to work.  An important part of transitional work programs is getting the injured employees’ treating physicians to agree to their patients’ participation.

 

  • The first step is to obtain an agreement from the treating physician not to prescribe “no work” for the employee without first discussing the matter with the employer. An injured employee may be able to function in a transitional work capacity much sooner if the employer is an active participant in the decision making process.

 

  • Secondly, employers should ensure their medical advisors or physician consultants remain in regular contact with all treating physicians. The company doctor should receive periodic reports on the patient’s progress, as well as proactively communicate with the treating physician transitional work job descriptions. The treating physician can determine if the patient is able to perform the tasks listed in the description, as well as whether the employee can work in any capacity.

 

Transitional work programs are common at employer work-sites. However, the simple existence of a transitional duty program does not mean it’s operating with maximum effectiveness or efficiency.

 

Employers who take a more active role in coordinating the activities of the injured employee and the treating physician will generate the expectation that the employee will return to work in some capacity within a specified period of time. This will result in shorter and less costly workers’ compensation claims costs.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment.

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

 

©2016 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.

Customize Return To Work Strategy For Employee Personalities

During the course of business, employers will find that all employees are not the same.  Speaking differently to each employee in order to get the same result is normal and necessary to keep business flowing steadily each day.  It only stands to reason that the same approach should hold true when working with employees to get them quickly and safely back to work after a worker’s compensation claim.

 

 

Return to Work Approach With Four Different Employee Personalities

 

There are many different return-to-work programs that can be utilized, but they should be matched with specific employees’ personalities to get the most successful results.  While one employee may respond well to several phone calls a week, another may find that to be too intrusive.  Finding the balance is the key to getting employees back to work.

 

There are primarily four different employee personality types ranging from fully satisfied to completely unsatisfied.  The four types of employees:

 

  • Satisfied-Active– one who is happy and needs no coercion or prodding to return to work.
  • Satisfied-Passive– one who is happy, but complacent with staying out of work.
  • Dissatisfied-Passive– one who is unhappy, but does not willfully concoct schemes to stay out of work. However, they may take advantage of the system to stay out longer.
  • Dissatisfied-Active– one who is very unhappy with his/her situation and will actively attempt to take advantage of the system.

 

The majority of employees will fall under one of these description categories and will respond similarly to different return-to-work strategies.  Handling each situation according to the personalities of the employees is the best tactic.

 

 

Suit The Personality Of The Employee

 

For example, a satisfied-active employee might be someone who has not missed a day of work in 10 years, plays on the company softball team, and is always looked to as a go-getter.  A workers comp claim might be perceived as a setback to this type of individual and little or no interaction from the employer will be necessary in order to get him to return to work. A recommended strategy is to send a get well card and provide a transitional duty position; activity such as aggressive surveillance can have the opposite effect and make the employee unwilling to return to work.

 

An active-dissatisfied employee in the same situation will take a completely different approach and most likely abuse the system.  Employers of active-dissatisfied employees will need to take a much more severe approach including implementing fraud prevention measures, hiring investigators, and having almost constant contact with the employee in order to get him back to work.

 

Without using a different return to work approach to suit the personality of the employee, the employer can inadvertently stall the process.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment.

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

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

 

 

©2016 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.

The Employee’s Role In Return To Work

To successfully carry out transitional work programs, risk managers must convince employees of the benefits of these programs. The most critical element in any return-to-work program is keeping the disabled employee actively involved in the workplace.

 

When a worker is injured, the employer must maintain contact with the employee throughout the recovery period so he or she does not become “psychologically disemployed.” The phenomenon of “psychological disemployment” occurs when employees are away from the work environment for an extended period. During this period, employees begin to perceive themselves as having become “distanced” from the company — that is, the same company paying their workers’ compensation benefits.

 

 

Publicize Return To Work in Positive Manner

 

To gain employees’ acceptance, transitional work programs must be carried out properly. First, the company should publicize the program in a positive manner. This requires ensuring employees understand that transitional work programs will keep them productive during their recovery. Also, a company must apply its return-to-work policy equally to all employees.

 

 

Weekly Communication

 

Companies can take other steps to convince employees of the benefits of transitional work programs. For example, employers should schedule weekly meetings with the injured employee throughout the injury recovery period. These meetings are a good way to obtain an informal status report concerning the types of physical activities the employee is able to engage in; the treatments the employee’s physician has prescribed or any problems the employee may be encountering. This weekly contact underscores the company’s expectation that the employee will return to work in some capacity as an active part of the work-force. Weekly progress meetings allow the company to demonstrate its concern about the continued welfare of the employee. The company can also send the employee “Get Well” cards and other remembrances throughout transitional period.

 

 

Doctor – Doctor Communication

 

Employers should also ensure that the company doctor or physician consultant talks to the injured employee’s treating physician about initiating a return-to-work plan as early as possible. The physician consultant can telephone the treating doctor and discuss the status of an employee’s injury on a doctor-to-doctor basis. Often, treating physicians are more willing to discuss a patient’s progress with another physician. This allows the physician consultant to discuss the medical aspects of the employee’s claim, such as the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan and then work with the treating physician to establish an estimated return-to-work date. This information can then be communicated back to the injured employee to create a transitional duty position within their physical restrictions.

 

It is critically important return-to-work programs become part of the corporate culture supported 100% by management. Thus, it becomes part of employees’ expectations that if they “go out on workers’ compensation,” they will return to work shortly in some form of transitional work capacity.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2016 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

Leverage 3 Different Types of Transitional Work Programs

A successful transitional duty / return to work program is much more than having an injured employee answering the telephone or sweeping the floors.  Unfortunately, too many employers see a transitional duty program, also known as a return to work program as a “make work” situation for both the employer and the injured employee. This approach to a return to work program often ends in frustration for both employer and employee.

 

Having the right return to work attitude, as well as understanding the various transitional work programs are the first steps to a successful program.

 

 

Alternate or Light Duty Programs

 

Alternate or light duty programs allow employees to work at less demanding jobs until they are physically able to resume their original work duties. For example, an employee who normally does physically demanding labor could work in a more sedentary capacity, such as answering telephones or taking product inventories

 

 

Modified Duty Program

 

The second type of transitional work program is the modified duty program, where injured employees’ original jobs are modified through engineering alterations of the workstation. Employers use these programs to prevent aggravation of the injury. For example, an employer could install seats with added back supports and foot rests to relieve discomfort for an employee with an injured back.

 

 

Work Hardening

 

“Work hardening” is the third type of transitional work program. In these programs, employees perform their usual job-related tasks in steps of increasing difficulty until they regain the physical ability needed to perform their original jobs. This allows the injured employee to remain at work, although at reduced hours. Sometimes, employees in a work hardening program will be placed in a simulated off-site work environment. Here, they perform simulated assignments closely approximating the tasks they perform at their real jobs. Many vendors offer these work simulation programs.

 

 

Additional Return to Work Considerations

 

Transitional work positions can be located in the same or a different department, or even in another company or operating division. Some employees perform transitional work program duties in the community as a volunteer in an employer-sponsored volunteer activity, or in a commercial vocational rehabilitation return-to-work center.   In these instances, employers should provide transportation for the employee to the work facility to demonstrate continued involvement and concern for his or her recovery.

 

 

During the return-to-work process, companies need to consider the employee’s physical limitations. If injured workers exceed their physical abilities, they may experience a recurrence of the injury causing unnecessary pain and suffering for the employee and needless additional workers’ compensation costs for their employers. Also, although employers can use transitional work programs for temporary illnesses and injuries, it is important to remember all absence and disability programs must be integrated with the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act..

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2016 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

Convince Your Employer Of Return To Work Benefits

Return to work and transitional duty are not new concepts in workers’ compensation.  Many companies are using transitional work programs to temporarily return injured employees to the workforce in a limited capacity until they are physically able to resume their original, full-time duties.

 

Benefits of Return to Work

Transitional work programs have the advantage of allowing injured employees to regard themselves as “actively employed” and thus productive and valuable members of the workforce. These programs are also financially beneficial for the company because keeping the employee at work helps the employer realizes significant workers’ compensation cost reductions.

In addition to reducing workers’ compensation costs, transitional work programs also help decrease short- and long-term disability insurance or wage continuation costs for non-occupational injuries. While employees in a transitional work program assignment may be less than 100 percent productive, having an injured employee working part-time in a limited capacity is more cost-effective than having one who does not work at all.

 

Many Companies Reluctant To Initiate Transitional Duty

Many companies, however, are reluctant to initiate transitional work programs. Some employers believe worker unions will not accept these programs, or the programs themselves will not be time- or cost-effective. However, evidence proves transitional work programs are very cost-effective, and a well-managed transitional work program can result in a return-to-work rate of up to 90 percent for injured employees returning to the job within four days after the injury. These significantly shortened workers’ compensation claims result in lowered indemnity costs and overall improvement in the company’s workers’ compensation loss experiences.

Reluctant employer concerns suggest the primary barriers to setting up transitional work programs are related to attitude toward return to work.  Therefore, successful implementation of return to work programs requires risk managers to convince their companies, employees, and treating physicians that transitional work programs are beneficial for all concerned.

 

Convincing Employers

To convince employers of the benefits of transitional work programs, risk managers should point out the key factors supporting their use. First, the risk manager can demonstrate how the company will realize significant financial savings if a return-to-work program is established. An employer can expect an average of 30 percent in savings for workers’ compensation costs for a well-managed return-to-work program.

To illustrate, consider this example. Suppose for every day an employee is brought back to work in a transitional duty capacity, a company realizes savings of $100 per day. If the employer has 50 workers on lost-time status who return to work in a transitional job assignment capacity one day earlier, the employer would realize savings of $5,000 per day. At a 5 percent profit margin, the return-to-work program would save the company $100,000. In other words, it would “cost” the company $100,000 to replace the $5,000 on the company’s bottom line (if the firm has a 5 percent profit margin.)

 

The risk manager can also point out how transitional work jobs can be as diverse and creative as the employer chooses. For example, employers can establish transitional work programs by gathering work “wish lists” from their managers. These lists could consist of the “to-do” tasks managers would like to accomplish but cannot due to time constraints and other more demanding work priorities. Perhaps one department needs inventory taken, another department requires updates to their database, or possibly someone to pay more attention to their social media presence.

 

Companies can have recuperating employees perform these tasks, thus helping to boost productivity. Companies should also attempt to make transitional work positions creative and productive. For example, by drawing from the “wish list,” employers can develop varied activities, thus keeping a recuperating employee gainfully occupied.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2016 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

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