These are the times that employers are operating lean and mean. Economic woes and dwindling profit margins have led to cutbacks in staff across the board. So, how to you handle the increased strain on your workers?
Pull Your Team Together To Get On Same Page
The first thing to do is to conduct a meeting with everyone. Call it a town hall meeting, an all-hands-on-deck meeting, or call it a meeting for free pizza in the lunchroom. Whatever you choose to call it, meet with everyone at once. One of the worst things to have is the rumor mill running wide open about what is going on and who is going to get whacked. In the world of work comp, those with plans of securing income via work comp wage loss will already be plotting their “accident” and how they are going to milk a claim for all it is worth once they receive their layoff papers. Include all levels of management, and all workers. This may not be able to be done in-house all at once, but you can do a webinar, recorded video, or hold the meeting at different times to address different workers. The plan is to make sure everyone knows what is going on so everyone hears the same story from the same person.
The next thing to do is seek department input. Have workers present concerns to their managers for them to take it up the ladder. Is one department being hit with layoffs worse than another one? If so, how are they going to cover work tasks? What are the concerns on the front lines? Do they have any ideas about covering shifts? Does anyone want to work other positions or be trained to do other tasks to help out other departments?
Make Your Employees Feel Heard
The key is to make everyone feel like their concerns are being heard, and ask them what they can do to help out another department. This is going to cut down those barriers between management and front-line workers. Effective communication between departments and between workers and management can be effective in reducing subjective work comp claims across the board.
Next up is implementation and transparency. You have to make workers feel trust. They need to know their concerns were heard, addressed, and suggested changes were implemented. Some of these suggestions may have come from very unlikely sources, but you never know if you have a genius of a janitor until you ask for their input. Not everyone’s idea is going to be implemented, but you should trust the judgment of those that do the job day in and day out. It is important to make sure their ideas are heard since they have more experience working those jobs than you do. Don’t assume that you know what is best. Try a few of their ideas and see what happens.
Additional Ideas To Help Weather The Storm of Change
So far we have communicating, seeking input, implementing change, and giving off an aura of transparency. The last items to think about are the 3 C’s. These are:
Commitment–You have to commit to the new plans that are being made. Cutbacks are necessary evils at times that have to be done. Commit to new plans once they are made and stay consistent.
Control— Executives or managers you have to be in control, and be accountable. At the same time, you may have to give up some of your control over certain tasks or departments. Remember to lean in to the shifts of control. Try not to move everything around all at once. If your workers feel that you are not in control of what is going on, they are going to take matters in to their own hands. This could lead to increased injuries.
Change—In business, you cannot be afraid to change. Make the change a new opportunity for some workers. The goal is to try and not shock anyone. I’m sure they are going to be freaked out enough as it is, wondering if they are next on the chopping block. Communicate to them what is going on, and how they can step up to the plate and help. Everyone handles change differently, so at times you may have to take a step back and review what is going on. Take your time, and make the new changes last by slowly doing one thing at a time.
Effective communication is always key when dealing with cutbacks. A sure way to see increased claim losses and more work comp problems are to not communicate what is going on to your front-line workers. Communicate, solicit feedback, and implement the changes needed. Hopefully your team will weather the storm with as little trouble as possible.
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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