The ever-changing American workforce presents many challenges for claim management teams as they seek to hire, train, and retain claim handlers. One of these challenges includes dealing with a workforce that was not born in the United States, is a newly arrived immigrant, or someone who has little to no knowledge of the English language. Claim management teams should embrace this challenge and use it as an opportunity to expand their workforce as they seek to establish and expand their diversity and inclusion efforts.
Share Experiences Among Staff
We all come from different backgrounds, whether it be socioeconomic, race, or religion. These factors make each individual unique – we all have a story to share. This requires everyone on the claim management team to approach problems with an open mind and being willing to accept the viewpoint of someone else. Other ways to address these issues and expand the knowledge includes taking time at staff meetings to share experiences, and provide suggestions on how to approach an issue on a workers’ compensation claim.
Se Habla Español? Si!
The United States does not have an official language. The result is millions of Americans either do not speak English, or have limited use of the language. This creates a challenge for the claims management team as they address matters involving non-English speaking employees who have suffered a work injury. Suggestions to meet this challenge include:
- Create job openings for multi-lingual staff. This can include having positions that require the applicant to be fluent in common second languages such as Spanish, Somali, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, other varieties), French and French Creole, Tagalog, and Vietnamese; and
- Subscribe to telephonic “language lines” that allow claim handlers to access someone fluent in other second languages; and
- Prepare documents in other common languages that explain the workers’ compensation process.
External steps can also be undertaken. This can include locating organizations that work with diverse cultures and coordinate career fair opportunities with these new partners. An effort should also be made to focus on outreach to businesses owned by minority groups.
Do Not Forget About Employees Living in Rural Areas
Employees living outside metropolitan areas face many challenges. This includes frequent travel to receive medical care and treatment, and limited options in terms of specialists who perform surgery or treat catastrophic injuries. Investments by a claim management team in technology-based tools can pay dividends. This includes the following:
- Telephone medicine;
- Use of field nurse case managers;
- Prepaying travel and reasonable meal expenses for those required to travel more than 150 miles.
Understanding Your Jurisdiction’s Demographics
Members of the claim management team should also make an effort to understand the demographics of the jurisdictions they cover. Developing this understanding can become difficult as many claim handlers work files in multiple states. One way to help everyone to understand the unique characteristics of a workforce is to invite a state demographer to a staff training event and have them share statistics on state diversity, and future trends. This information will allow everyone on a team to brainstorm on ways to address the characteristics of the current workforce, and what changes need to be made moving forward.
The demographics of a claim team are also important. Ways to address a group and meet their diverse interests could include:
- Cross-train staff to capitalize on interests, strengths, and education;
- Create a two-way performance review, which would allow claim handlers and their supervisors to better understand each other;
- Balance business needs with staff strengths, individual lifestyles and being outcome-focused; and
- Dive deeper into succession planning and opportunities for mentoring and career path growth.
The changing workplace is placing new demands on claim management teams. This should be viewed as an opportunity to demand diversity and inclusions efforts internally, and in the larger community. The result will be a better claim management team that is conscious of employees coming from different backgrounds and address their situation in a better manner.
Author 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 .
Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/
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