The Power of Making Connections In Your Organization

Very simple things can make a significant impact on an organization. Unfortunately, when there is no process or structure in place to capture relevant organization connections, there is missed opportunity and inefficiency. What is intended to be a good thing for an organization (Separate Process Areas for a Targeted Propose) has a tendency to evolve into siloed environments that cause organizations to have “Blurred Vision”.


As silos become more established, they have a tendency to move towards working independently and become less focused on other relevant areas that hold connected information. It is only natural; people within a particular process area get focused on their piece of the organizational puzzle and become less familiar and less concerned with other important pieces of the puzzle.


Actual “Silos” (vertical structures on farms) typically stand right beside each other. Although silos may be close to each other logistically, if you step into or are on the other side of a silo, you are unable to see the other silo that is literally right next to you.


This type of environment is not uncommon in organizations. Organizational process areas can reside next to each other, people within the process areas can walk by each other daily, sit beside each other in company meetings/functions, interact socially, but miss identifying simple and relevant organizational connections.


The Risk Leader has a responsibility to look cross-functionally at their organization. Cross-functional Vision is a “Risk”. It needs to be identified as such and processes and/or controls need to be put in place to permeate the silos and make important connections that otherwise do not get made.



Cross-Functional Vision


Most organizations have cross-functional vision issues. As the silo’d environments start evolving, the organizational lenses are not adjusted to see similar needs and opportunities that reside in different process areas.


Silos are in organizations for a reason and provide needed value. The objective is not to eliminate silos. Silos are where collaboration takes shape, direction and focus becomes targeted and stakeholders can build trust and a sense of belonging. The unique expertise the silo holds provides market intelligence and technical know-how to be experts in a dimension of the organization.


Putting process and focus into cross-functional vision promotes protection against the negative ramifications that silo’d environments bring. In addition to not seeing/making natural connections, the negative ramifications of silos include redundancies and lack of transparency that can lead to excessive organizational noise and process areas that hold on to risks that can be harmful to an organization.


Each silo’d area holds a piece of the bigger organizational puzzle. When there is no foresight to see cross-functionally, simple but powerful solutions do not get recognized and the broader puzzle does not get put together.  Not correcting this vision issue is wasteful and costly to organizations.



Correcting the Vision


We live in a world where laser eye surgery is commonplace to correct nearsightedness and farsightedness. It is technology that allows for 95% of cases to be successful in the first attempt. Like technology that has evolved for our personal vision, there is organizational laser surgery available that is not complex, is pain-free and can bring a significant ROI.


The work (organizational surgery) is to insert some consistency and repeatable processes into business process areas/silos so that commonalities can be recognized. This consistency is a way for process areas to identify both risks and opportunities and make important connections where they exist.


An essential part of the best practice is for an organization to establish a basic “Risk Register” that each process area contributes to by identifying and reporting their specific risk. As this risk gets housed in a central location through a standardize process, simple but powerful connections can start to be made.


Organizations will see immediate value by having structure to identifying risks, structure to organizing and prioritizing the risk and structure to reporting the risk so that the data can be aggregated up. As this process occurs and information aggregates up, it allows the organization to correct its cross-functional vision issues and for more global options and solutions to surface.


An additional and simple part of the organizational surgery is putting a consistent and repeatable process to quantify risk that is identified. Cross-functional vision gets blurred when there is no structure to putting a “Value” to risks that each process area holds. This is corrected by surgically applying a “Rating Process” that works cross-functionally so that apples to apples comparisons can be made with an organization’s limited time and resources. This surgical fix will correct the vision within silos and among/across silos.


By inserting a register that includes consistency to collecting data (risk) and a rating process with effective reporting from silo’d process areas, organizations will have significantly corrected their cross-functional vision issues.


The value of having this organizational “Corrective Vision Surgery” is that they will start seeing and making connections and organizational corrections that otherwise would not get made.




Author Mark Bennett, Founder of Risk Innovation Group (RIG), is dedicated to helping large employers face the complexities of risk through innovative Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) practices. ERM programs don’t just help large employers manage business risks more effectively; a well-developed ERM program can protect and create value as well as improve business performance and generate a strong competitive advantage.  Contact:

A Risk Based Approach to Business – Taking a Practical Approach to Business Success

Most people enjoy reading a good story. A good story is made up of 5 basic components that include CHARACTER(S), SETTING, CONFLICT, PLOT AND RESOLUTION. In a good story, there is typically a unique combination of the character(s), setting and conflict that makes for an interesting plot that feeds to the resolution.


All organizations tell a story that speaks to where the organization is, how it got there and where it is likely going. A good business story is one that speaks to success in the midst of the complex settings and conflicts.


In today’s business environments, the “Main Character” of the business story is “Risk”.  Risk is a very powerful and influential part of an organization. The path that organizations go down (storyline) is driven by the risks an organization TAKES that positively impacts them and the risks they AVOID or MITIGATE that can negatively impact them. Collectively, these decisions on “Risk” tell the story.


Good business stories are typically not a product of chance. They are strategic and purposeful about implementing a “RISK-BASED APPROACH TO BUSINESS” and apply logic and consistency to deal with the main character – Risk.



The Setting


Where does the character “Risk” live and what does it look like in an organization? The best way to think of the setting is to picture an “Organizational Risk Puzzle” that has many pieces.


When you hear the term “Risk” in organizations, most associate it with Traditional Risk Management. If you own or work in a business, the risk that typically comes to mind is liabilities associated with owning buildings, vehicles, and equipment or the risk associated with workers’ compensation programs. These risks, commonly known as “Pure Risks” typically get a portion of an organization’s attention (time & resources) with the goal of eliminating the risks and/or mitigating what happens.


The larger part of the organizational risk puzzle falls into the bucket of “Speculative Risk”. In this area, as opposed to eliminating risk, the goal is to find the right amount of risk that fits an organization’s appetite and enables them to be successful.


In short, the character known as risk is everywhere and resides in every business process area, organizational goal, strategic & geographic initiative, and compliance area and pretty much every part of an organization. In addition to what is in plain sight, organizations have emerging risks that expand the setting to new areas.



The Conflict


There are natural challenges that come when you put people inside the 4 walls of an organization. In a business story, the “Organizational Risk Puzzle” becomes even more complex because it appears to have “Mountains” and “Rivers” randomly running between and through the pieces of the risk puzzle.


What appear to be mountains are actually “Silos” and what appears to be rivers are “Politics”. Silos are groups of people put together for a dedicated purpose that move towards working independently. Politics are the people in organizations positioning for personal agendas that may not align with what is best for the organization. These are real obstacles and distractions that can divert from an organization’s vision and mission.


Organizations are generally good at developing silos but are not good at permeating them. The conflicts naturally expand because the siloed environments advance differing and non-aligned priorities, lack coordinated decision making, promote loan rangers, isolated groups, redundancies as well as unhealthy completion to mention just a few of the negative by-products. Of course, organizations typically do not have a good way to deal with the negative ramifications of politics other than in backroom conversations and through organizational noise.



The Plot


After organizations acknowledge that risk is the overarching theme and key to business success, the “Plot” is pretty straight-forward. IT IS TAKING A RISK-BASED APPROACH TO BUSINESS.


Within the story’s plot, the character known as “Risk” puts structure and accountability to the process. In a risk-based approach to business, risk takes on a new and more productive role. Risk works for you.


A very important part of evolving organizations is the ability to come together and develop “Plans” to deal with existing and emerging issues.  A Risked Based Approach to Business states that if you can develop a plan, you can identify the risk that can prevent the plan from playing out; and if you can identify the risk to a plan, you can put controls in place to make sure the risk does not play out.


The plot states that you cannot leave room for failure. You must be proactive and use identified risk to beat what could go wrong to the punch. The plot builds consistency to success by proactively mitigating what could go wrong. By doing this you are teeing up what can go right.



The Resolution


Figuring out how to pull all the pieces of the puzzle together in the midst of challenges are business defining moments. Successful organizations realize there needs to be consistency in cutting through the challenges and making the obstacles less relevant.


  • Part 1of the resolution is to figure out how to operate strategically. Operating strategically can be your biggest ROI. Organization executives have limited time & resources and a business to run and there must be a platform to operate strategically. Three essentials to operating strategically include your 3 Lines of Defense, a Risk Register, and a Baseline. The 3 Lines of Defense are about being strategic with your people; getting people on the same page going the same direction with motivation. The risk Register is about being strategic with your data and putting attention and structure to what is most important. The Baseline is about being strategic with your controls and making sure what you do connects to where you go.


  • Part 2of the resolution is a platform that puts logic to limited time & resources. This translates into a “Structured Plan” process. This speaks to having a practical, simple and repeatable “Blueprint” for all organizational process areas to use when dealing with their risk.


By putting structure to plan descriptions, structure to identifying risk that will prevent plans from playing out, structure to mitigation and rating processes and to monitoring as well as change management, your organization will get better.


Does your organization have a “Good Story”? Is there structure and logic to how the organization deals with its most plentiful character – Risk? Is there structure to identifying, assessing and either mitigating or taking advantage of the organization’s risks to capture a competitive advantage?




Author Mark Bennett, Founder of Risk Innovation Group (RIG), is dedicated to helping large employers face the complexities of risk through innovative Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) practices. ERM programs don’t just help large employers manage business risks more effectively; a well-developed ERM program can protect and create value as well as improve business performance and generate a strong competitive advantage.  Contact:

September 11th Remembered – Tribute To Marsh And AON

Article republished from a previous post.


Everyone remembers where they were the when they learned the World Trade Center crumbled to the ground. I was scooping ice cream at the Mansfield Center General Store. Having recently retired from the risk management and insurance industry, I had moved back to the area, built a house in Mansfield Center and worked from my home office. I was helping my family restore and run the General Store.


I had an exciting career in risk management and insurance working for two of the best insurance brokers in the industry. BOTH companies had sizeable offices located in the World Trade Center. So, when Bill called and asked me if I was watching TV, did I know a plane flew into the World Trade Center, I was alarmed. Initially I thought he meant it was a small plane, but when I turned on the TV, I could see it was a huge plane and the building was on fire. And then another plane had flown into the other tower.



We Never Knew How 9/11 Could Affect An Entire Industry


Everyone in the risk management field “plans”… we plan for every eventuality, thinking things through. That’s what we do. We help our clients, which are large companies such as The New York Times, Universal Orlando, and USAir, etc. plan how to provide safer workplaces, safer products and safer environments. But we never planned for Sept 11. We never knew how it could affect an entire industry.


AON and Marsh are the two largest insurance brokers in the world and I – with a loyal team of consultants – was responsible for development of the workers’ compensation practices at those companies. Workers’ comp insurance is the largest line of insurance coverage – a huge cost to most employers – and I had found the solution to reduce those costs significantly. Helping a wide-variety of types of organizations was gratifying, and there was a new challenge every day. I had written, published, traveled, and worked hard for 25 years, so I looked forward to scaling back.


When a retirement opportunity presented itself, I left the workforce to enjoy being a mom. My daughter was 17 and Glastonbury High School had not gone well. Against her will, we had moved her to a private school, and she and I were getting reacquainted during the long drive to and from school in Farmington, CT. Life was good.



Many Former Employees Went Back To Work


It wasn’t part of the plan to go back to work, but two weeks after Sept 11, I went back to AON, filling in for Lisa Ehrlich. Lisa was an outsourced risk manager who worked on-site at a company in Stamford, CT. On 9/11, she had gone into the NY office for a meeting and was killed that day. I was honored to be able to help in some small way. Many former employees went back to work in the intervening years to help the brokers rebuilt their practices. Here is a remembrance of my colleagues.


In the 18 years since Sept 11, a new generation has taken over. Some hardly know our industry lost so many that day, key leaders and pioneers in the field of workers’ compensation cost containment. In the intervening years, my nephew, Michael Stack, has taken over a leadership role in my company and become an industry leader in his own right. I am very proud of him for carrying on the legacy and memory of our beloved colleagues lost on that fateful day.




Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the co-author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%.


©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.




Social Security Disability Offset and Workers Compensation

ssdiSocial Security disability benefits (SSD) are paid through a government disability program for workers who have had enough earnings paid into the Social Security system, regardless of whether their injury or illness is work-related. Injured workers are only entitled to SSD if they have a long-term impairment that precludes any gainful employment. SSD is only payable to workers unable to engage in any substantial productive activity whose physical or mental impairment is expected to last at least a year or result in death.



Duplication of Benefits


When an employee is so seriously injured that they receive a workers’ comp rating that classifies them as permanently and totally disabled, the injured employee may be eligible to receive both workers’ comp permanent total disability benefits and SSD.


If they receive both workers’ comp and SSD at the same time, they may get more compensation on a weekly or monthly basis than what they would if they were still working.





To prevent this duplication and overpayment of disability benefits, Social Security and state workers’ compensation statutes have offset provisions reducing the amount paid to the disabled employee.


The offset counterbalances the amount that the injured worker would be overpaid. The intent of the offset provisions is to ensure that an injured worker does not receive excessive pay from the combined workers’ comp and SSD. However, the combined payments after the reduction will not be less than the amount of the total SSD before the offset.



Average Current Earnings


Disabled employees cannot receive more than 80% of what was their “average current earnings” pre-disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines average current earnings as the highest of:


• The average monthly earnings from “covered employment and self-employment” (where Social Security taxes were paid) during the highest five consecutive years


• The average monthly earnings in the calendar year of highest earnings from covered employment during the five years ending with the year in which the disability began


• The average monthly wage on which the disabled employee’s unindexed disability primary insurance amount is based


Disabled employees who have second jobs where they receive payments “under the table” without paying Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) taxes cannot collect SSD (or workers’ comp) on the undeclared/untaxed income.



Total Family Income


The maximum amount of benefits, instead of determined by average current earnings, may be determined by the total amount of SSD received by all members of the injured worker’s family in the first month that workers’ comp is received.



Who Is Affected By the Offset Provisions?


The offset of SSD applies to disabled workers under the age of 65 and their families. Benefits for a worker’s spouse or dependent children are offset before the offset is applied to the worker’s benefits.



Which Payment Is Offset


SSA defers to each state’s laws as to whether the workers’ comp or the SSD payment will be offset. In most states, the SSD is reduced to an amount that equals 80% of the average current earnings when added to the workers’ comp disability payment.


A few states have laws that require the SSD payment to be primary, so that the state workers’ comp disability payment is reduced to make up the difference between what the SSD payment would be and the 80% of the average current earnings. Take, for example, an employee under the age of 62 at the time the combined Social Security disability and workers’ comp disability payments began. The employee was earning $900 per week before the injury and is receiving a workers’ comp permanent total disability payment of $600 per week. Based on the employee’s SSA earning records, the employee is entitled to $250 per week after the SSA approves them as permanently disabled. Instead of collecting $850 per week ($600 from workers’ comp and $250 from SSD) the employee will collect a total of $720 per week (80% of the $900 per week earnings – assuming the employees earnings immediately prior to the injury were their highest “average current earnings”). Social Security pays their disability benefits monthly.


In most states, the employee in this example would still collect the $600 per week from workers’ comp and the equivalent of $120 per week from Social Security, for a total of $720 per week. In the states where the SSD payment is primary, the employee still gets $720 per week, but the workers’ comp payment is $470 per week ($720 minus the $250) for their permanent disability payment, and SSD pays their $250 per week equivalent on a monthly basis.



Other Disability Benefits


There is no further offset or reduction if the employee receives other types of disability benefits or other income including:


• Private disability insurance


• Federal, state or local government disability


• Veteran’s Administration disability


• Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act sickness


• Black Lung Part B


• Proceeds from a third party liability settlement


• Jones Act payments


• Payments from a tort lawsuit


• Unemployment


• Private pension or private insurance



Lump Sums


If the disabled employee takes a lump sum settlement instead of weekly payments for their workers’ comp permanent total disability benefits, SSA will consider it as an offset. When this happens, SSA will prorate the lump sum settlement over the period that weekly benefits would have been paid and reduce their SSD payment accordingly. If the lump sum settlement indicates that a portion of it is for future medical expenses, that portion will be excluded from their calculations.




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 .



Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog:


©2019 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.


Contractor Liability In Workers’ Compensation

contractor liability in workers compensationThe issue of contractor liability in workers’ compensation is something members of the claim management team need to be aware of when dealing with claims.  This is especially true when handling claims in the construction industry or other job classifications that rely heavily on contractors to perform work.



Contractor Liability in Workers’ Compensation: Back to the Basics


As a general rule, employers (with some limited exceptions) are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.  In the setting of a general contractor, they typically do not have employees as people who work for them are generally classified as “independent contractors,” or subcontracted labor through another person or entity.


Notwithstanding this exception to the general rule, contractors may want to consider obtaining the benefits of workers’ compensation coverage should a judge or industrial commission determine an injured person is an “employee.”  Situations to consider include the following:


  • Uninsured contractor: General contractors can be found liable in workers’ compensation matters if a subcontractor does not have required coverages for their employees.  Although there is no employer-employee relationship, courts generally will look to the main contractor, as well as other intermediate contractors, for coverage.


  • Employee misclassification: This can occur in serval different circumstances, which include times when the misclassification is intentional (fraud), the nature of the relationship changes during the course of business or in instances of good faith dealings a finder of fact determines an employer-employee relationship exists.  The mistake of fact, even if it is unintentional, is not a defense.


  • Self-coverage: In many instances, a contractor will purchase coverage for themselves, and others working under them.  This can include independent contractors working directly for the contractor, and subcontractors and their employees and the independent contractors of a subcontractor.  This can sometimes come in the form of “ghost” or “shadow” policy, which covers medical and indemnity benefits under a workers’ compensation act, and also cover expenses related to legal representation in legal proceedings.



Avoiding Contractor Liability in Workers’ Compensation


The policy behind contractor liability in workers’ compensation is two-fold.


  • Avoids situations where a contractor is avoiding liability and the payment of workers’ compensation insurance at the expense of unskilled labor; and


  • Provides a certainty in benefit payment and reduction in tort litigation (eg – the Grand Bargain).


When a person working in a subcontractor situation is injured, that party should either have workers’ compensation insurance, if self-employed or for their employees.  If the subcontractor does not have workers’ compensation insurance, a cause of action may arise against the contractor immediately above that entity.  Liability will often also extend to the next immediate contractor if there is not the presence of insurance, etc.


Based on this complex statutory framework, members of the claim management team need to be diligent in their investigation.  Practice pointers should include the following:


  • Educate all insureds about the basics of contractor liability in workers’ compensation matters. This includes making them aware of the fact they may be responsible for persons unrelated to their business when involved in projects involving contracted labor.  This is especially prevalent in the construction industry;


  • Determine if any contractors and/or subcontractors are present at the injury site. Things can get complicated, so drawing a diagram may assist in determining liability for a work injury; and


  • Careful payroll audits when determining workers’ compensation insurance premiums. While most contractors and employers are honest when reporting the number of employees, wages and injury rates, there is a temptation to “game the system.”


When speaking with an insured about workers’ compensation insurance in a contractor/sub-contractor setting, it is also important to provide precise and correct answers.  Failure to do so can give parties with a false sense of security.





Workers’ compensation systems become complex when dealing with contractors.  It is important to educate insureds and provide them with accurate information.  This includes resources on how to avoid unnecessary risks and do so in an ethical manner.  It can also help avoid the unnecessary payment on claims when insuring a contractor who works with other entities.





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 .



Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog:


©2019 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.


Case Study: Helping Customers Manage Their Workers Compensation Programs

This article originally appeared as a Crawford blog post:


Managing a workers compensation program from an employer’s perspective entails implementing proper health and safety protocols to create a safe work environment, and to properly handle claims should an employee sustain an injury while on the job. As employers pay into workers compensations plans supported by provincial governments they do have considerable financial responsibility.



Customer Wanted to Ensure Employee Safety


One of our large customers in the manufacturing sector genuinely wanted to ensure the safety of its employees and had taken the necessary steps to create a safe and healthy workplace. Tied to that was their desire to properly manage their workers’ compensation program to ensure proper allocation of finance, and proper employee support to help those injured return to work and legislative compliance. Although they were doing a good job, they thought that they could do better.


It was at this point that I was brought on to evaluate their program and identify opportunities for improvement. With the support of my team and the customer, we created internal processes and procedures around how to manage incidents that occur. We were able to provide accurate predictions around loss payment costs tied to workers compensation cases. These efforts resulted in everyone in the organization knowing and following these procedures. The customer experienced increased efficiency around the claims process, a decrease in organizational risk, and they saved money on insurance premiums.



Properly Run Workers’ Comp Program is Win-Win 


As a workers compensation consultant, I take great pride in doing my job well, as I know from experience that a properly run and managed workers compensation program can enhance lives and benefit employees just as much as the employer. It truly is a win-win situation.



Cathy Royet is a workers compensation consultant at Crawford in Canada. This story has some resemblance of real events with fictitious facts and details including the names, places, events, locales, and story specifics. Names, personal details and specifics have been removed for confidentiality. Story details have been enhanced for effect.





10 Signs of a Negative Company Culture (that drive up workers comp costs)

Negative Company CultureWhat is meant by ‘corporate culture’ and why should we care, especially in the workers’ compensation realm?


According to research, corporate culture can have a significant impact on an organization’s finances. Also, companies with strong, positive cultures have employees who are more engaged — in their jobs, their companies, and their own recoveries if they become injured. It all adds up to better outcomes for injured workers and stronger bottom lines for organizations.  Understanding a few facts about corporate culture can make a tremendous impact on a company as a whole, and its injury management program in particular.



The Evidence


The relationship between organizational culture and corporate financial performance has been the subject of research for a number of years. One of the most dramatic studies came out of Harvard in the 1990s.


The researchers looked at the corporate cultures of companies and the potential impact on economic performance. Their analysis led them to compare 12 companies in particular that had positive cultures and 20 that did not. Over an 11 year period they found startling differences:


Positive cultures          Weak cultures

Revenue growth                                682%                                    166%

Employment growth                         282%                                    36%

Stock price growth                            901%                                    74%

Net income growth                            756%                                    1%


While it has not been definitively determined that corporate culture alone has a significant impact on a company’s financial success, it is at least clear that it doesn’t hurt. As one of the two researchers of the study later said, “For now, my point is simply that corporate culture can contribute meaningfully to financial results, and many people do not give this fact enough attention.”



About ‘Culture’


There are a variety of definitions for the term ‘corporate culture.’ While basketball courts and ping pong tables in the lunchroom may come to mind, they don’t define corporate culture. Essentially, it boils down to the beliefs and behaviors that affect the way employees and management interact. It is not something tangible, but more of an attitude and way of doing things that permeates an organization.


While it is not something that can be seen or touched, it can be developed and intentional. It starts with the values, vision, mission and the day-to-day communications within a company. A strong, positive environment empowers employees. It makes them feel they are part of a team with a specific purpose. It motivates them to do well and go beyond simple expectations.


Motivated employees are contagious. Their positivity affects others around them and spurs better outcomes from the entire organization. However, the reverse is also true; a negative, weak culture results in unmotivated workers and can lead to a deterioration in productivity.



Cultural No-Nos


The first step in building a positive corporate culture is to assess the organization’s current culture. There are several clear indications that point to a poor corporate culture.


  1. High turnover. The overall average staff turnover rate for all industries is 16.7 percent, according to a study in 2015. Industries such as insurance and utilities had slightly lower turnover rates, while hospitality had a higher rate. A rate that is high indicates employees are unhappy in the environment.
  2. High-stress There are both physical and emotional symptoms of stress, but employers may not be privy to that information if employees are not forthcoming about it. One way to determine if a company has high-stress levels is to look at documents such as sick leave and workers’ comp claims information. Observing workers may indicate if there is high stress, especially high tensions among employees. Employers can encourage activities shown to reduce work-related stress, such as:
  • Create an atmosphere that makes it easy for a worker to get exercise, such as discounted gym memberships or suggesting taking walks outside during breaks.
  • Remind workers to use their vacation time, to avoid burnout and prevent stress from overwork.
  • Make employees feel valued. Recognizing even small contributions from workers shows you care about them and can help reduce their stress levels.


  1. Lack of trust. While many supervisors and managers don’t consider this important, more than 90 percent of employees say it is vital to have a boss they can trust — or they will seek out new employment. Indications of a lack of trust include:
  • Workers are unwilling to go the extra mile and only do the bare minimum.
  • Complaining, finger-pointing and blaming with little effort to accept responsibility.
  • High levels of competition to the extent that others’ ideas are blocked and pertinent information for good decision making is withheld.
  • Policies and procedures are based on the idea that employees cannot be trusted.


  1. People don’t share ideas.
  2. Silo mentality, where employees do not collaborate
  3. Low participation in activities or wellness programs. Employees who don’t feel like part of a team are less likely to engage in events with their coworkers.
  4. Failing to report injuries. A quick check of the lag times between injuries and when they are reported will indicate whether workers feel safe or even understand they need to report workplace injuries.
  5. Punishing those who report injuries. Employees who are discouraged from reporting injuries do not trust their supervisors, managers, or their entire companies.
  6. Litigating most workers’ compensation claims. While some litigation does occur, greater than 50% of claims is a red flag.
  7. Failing to return to work anyone who is not at 100 percent. Company policies that keep workers out until they have fully recovered to their pre-injury status are harmful, to injured workers as well as the companies themselves. The longer someone is out of work, the less likely he will return. It causes disability mindset for the worker and increases costs unnecessarily and dramatically for employers.





Less than one-third of employees say they are ‘actively engaged’ in their work, according to a Gallop poll. These employees have fewer workplace injuries, are more active in their recoveries and return to work sooner. The remainder of workers say they are either ‘not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’ in work.


Getting more workers into the ‘actively engaged’ category starts by understanding the culture of an organization, then taking steps to improve it.



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 .



Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog:


©2019 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.

Use Workers’ Comp Basics to Attract and Keep Millennials

Use Workers’ Comp Basics to Attract and Keep MillennialsThe workforce will change dramatically over the next 10 years. Regardless of the industry, many workers will be retiring in the next decade — if not sooner.


Attracting and keeping younger talent is imperative to maintain and grow an organization. Millennials, those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s are quickly overtaking the workforce. Therefore, it behooves companies to take steps that can make their organizations more attractive to these younger workers.


Many of the strategies that help prevent injuries and reduce workers’ compensation costs are the very same that will help companies get the best workers to position themselves well for the future.



The Culture


Research shows millennials are highly focused on making a difference in society, perhaps even more than on making money. They seek employers who share their ideals. Some of the ways employers can make their cultures more millennial-friendly include the following.


  • Offer Mentoring. Mentoring young employees is an effective way to provide support, as well as provide an open and inviting culture for new ideas and opportunities for organizational growth.
  • Soft skills — the ability to empathize and express compassion — are imperative for an effective injury management program. Employees who feel their employers are genuinely concerned about their wellbeing are more likely to engage in the recovery process. Studies show these workers heal and return to work sooner than employees who feel they are in conflict with the employer. In the same way, millennials are more likely to be attracted to, and want to stay with organizations that have a culture of caring.
  • Positive communication. Replacing negative terminology with positive messages may seem insignificant, but it can have a tremendous impact — on injured workers as well as millennials. For example, instead of telling an injured worker his claim was denied, rewording it to say the claim was not approved carries a different message — especially if the person saying it follows up with ways the worker can be treated; such as through general health insurance. Delivering ‘negative’ news to an employee should be worded in a way that still shows respect and caring for the worker.
  • Emphasis on safety. Employers want to prevent injuries; workers want to avoid getting hurt. Since the goals are the same for both, the idea of safety should be presented in a way that shows concern. Instead of dictating rules to workers and chastising them for not adhering to them, employers should communicate the reasons for safety rules with the overlying message that the company wants to protect its workers.
  • Simplify the message. If a new product or procedure is going into effect, it should be explained in as simple a manner as possible. Instead of inundating workers with pages and pages of unnecessary information, boil it down to the basics: what it is, why it is being implemented, and how and what changes it requires. Creating a simple document or brochure and holding a general meeting to explain it and allow for questions will help employees understand it better and make them feel part of the process.





Injured workers need the proper tools to recover and return to function. That includes access to appropriate medical care and the right information to help them engage in their own recoveries.


Prospective employees also need to know the right tools are available to them. Younger people have grown up with computers, smartphones, and tablets and used them throughout their educational and social lives. Companies seeking to hire and retain the best of millennials need to keep this in mind and update their systems to the extent possible.


But a complete overhaul of a company’s systems may not be feasible. Instead of completely revamping the company with the latest and greatest techno toys, companies should work with their employees and see where and how they can use new technologies to improve their systems — and retain younger workers.


Automation and artificial intelligence should not be viewed as replacements for workers. Instead, they can help with some of the more rote aspects of a person’s job, allowing the worker to spend time on more important aspects.


Smartphones and tablets may help get the job done better and faster. Rather than purchasing these for all employees, it might be possible to allow workers to use their own devices and providing them with specific apps, for example.





Working with, rather than against injured workers and providing them with quick and proper medical care leads to faster and better outcomes. Similarly, showing compassion for workers and providing them with the tools that best help them get their jobs done will help organizations attract and retain the best of the next generation of workers.



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.



Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog:


©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.

The Workers’ Comp Lesson To Learn From The Kavanaugh Process

Hey, there. Michael Stack here, CEO of AMAX. So very big national news over the past weekend with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as the latest Supreme Court justice of the United States.


Now, this was obviously a very politically charged and bitter process. And whether you are in complete support of Mr. Kavanaugh or complete opposition, it’s not for me to tell you whether you were right or wrong, that’s up for you to decide. But there was one thing out of this process that struck me that I think we can all learn and apply to our work comp program and it’s the importance of this line here right in the middle.



Kavanaugh Process Had Hard Line of Separation


In the Kavanaugh process, this line was very clearly defined. You were either in support or you were in opposition. Now, there are some lessons in politics that we can use as examples to follow and there are some lessons that we can use as warnings, so let’s talk about this process now.


Don’t take this left and right now as having anything to do with politics because it doesn’t. Now in worker’s compensation, there’s really somewhat two schools of thought. There’s the advocacy model, a claims advocacy model, and more of a litigation type of model. Now on this advocacy side, you’re looking out for the employee’s best interest. You’re working together as a team. You’re looking to give them the best medical support. You’re establishing trust, you’re communicating, you’re sending a get well card. You’re going to visit them at the hospital and you’re trying to get them back to work in a timely fashion, working together as a team to lower your costs and improve those outcomes.


Now, some in opposition to that will say, “Well, that’s kind of maybe a little bit soft,” that you’re just skipping through the flower fields, hoping that everything is right and you’re just kind of la, la, la going around and everyone’s great and we’re just going to look out for everyone’s best interest and it’s all gonna work out.


So that opposition model will hold the mindset often of this litigation mindset and say, “Well, no one’s going to pull one over on me. If my employees are committing fraud, I’m going to crush them and I’m going to deny their claim,” etc. etc. etc. And on that goes.



Politics Has Positive Examples and Warnings


Here’s the lesson that we need to learn from this process and we’re looking at this hard line of both of the positive examples and the warnings is that in worker’s compensation, these are actually the same thing and should be the same thing and they should all be working together all at the same time. So here’s what I mean by that.


Is that yes, there’s a very hard line in the middle and this needs to be very clearly defined in your program just like it was in the Kavanaugh process, but at the same time, this litigation mindset also needs to be over here and here’s what I mean by that, is you start with the advocacy model. You start by looking out for your employees’ best interest. You start by setting expectations. You start by establishing trust. You start by giving them the best medical, getting them back to work, providing a transitional duty job that’s going to create a better outcome and lower your costs, but at the same time you’re also doing a thorough investigation.



Claims Advocacy & Litigation Work Together in Tandem


You’re establishing what actually happened in that claim. You’re establishing good information in order to make a good decision on what is actually happening and you’re setting an expectation for your employees as well that they need to come to the table. We’re going to give you all the support we can, but we also have an expectation for you to participate in the process and when you do have this line very clearly defined in the middle and when your employee is trying to pull one over you with a fraudulent claim, they’re malingering. They’re trying to get extra medical treatments included when they shouldn’t be.


You have that very clearly hard line defined and you’ve already done the work at the beginning of the claim to establish your position and so then you can deny that claim appropriately with a very strong and very powerful litigation aspect of your claim as well. Both of those philosophies need to be working together in tandem and only when your employee passes that hard line in the middle is when you deploy that litigation mindset.


Again, I’m Michael Stack, CEO of AMAX, and remember your work today in workers’ compensation can have a dramatic impact on your company’s bottom line, but it will have a dramatic impact on someone’s life. So, be great.




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 .



Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog:


©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.


Say It In 5 Minutes to Motivate Risk Management Change and Align Resources

In the risk space, whether you are operating as a Chief Risk Officer focused on all organizational risk or a Traditional Risk Manager focused on hazard risk, you are working in or designing a risk system that is required to move people and processes to action.


To move people and align resources to action, the most valuable thing a risk leader can do [whether it is a global message on your Enterprise Risk Management initiative or a targeted message on your hazard risk program] is to package the message and “SAY IT IN 5 MINUTES”. Risk initiatives are complex; they involve many stakeholders and processes. For any message to be effective it must successfully negotiate through organizational obstacles, politics and silos. Risk programs will not move forward if the message is not clear and stakeholders cannot understand and connect to the why, how and expectations.



Process More Important Than The End Product


Risk leaders have an incredible opportunity to demonstrate value by committing to putting “the message” into a 5 minute Corporate Risk Video.


By making this commitment, risk leaders will soon learn that going through the process is even more important than the end product. By committing to this “5 MINUTES”, it forces them to listen to and consider the perspective of all stakeholders and it requires capturing a meaningful story that all can see and embrace, one founded in purpose and has value that will be around for many years.


If you can effectively capture the heartbeat and include stakeholders in the process, you will be able to begin driving passion into an organization from the backroom and owners and employees will ultimately drive the risk process.


This exercise will support your culture and this process of being clear & concise will translate into the on-going branding that your risk initiative requires.



5 Steps to 5 Minute Message


Your 5 minutes need to be more than an emotional/feel good story. You will get the most out of it by incorporating the following 5 Steps:



1) Decide what you want your message to do – What action are you looking for? Make the commitment to go past the informative story to one that motivates and drives action.


Put yourself in the seat of every stakeholder and be realistic.


  • Will they get your message?
  • Will it motivate them to action?


This is the first test of the value of your risk program. If your program message is built on policies and procedures you put in place and your goal is purely compliance, your audience will see this and likely tune out within the first 30 seconds.



2) Be clear on your identity – Successful companies are driven by a mission which is the reason for existence from the front room (C-Suite) of the organization. This mission describes the purpose and overall intentions. It supports the company vision and serves to communicate the purpose based on core values. Company leaders put time and resources into this because, if done properly, it will be the heartbeat that drives what everyone does.


The problem is that corporate heartbeats (values, vision and mission) do not naturally translate passion into risk initiatives. Before writing the script, make sure that you are clear on the risk program purpose and values and be clear in your mind what this looks like.


What it looks like must come out in your message. Risk Leaders have an opportunity to create a heartbeat and drive passion into an organization. Your 5 minutes will have no value if your message is not founded on values that translate into a vision and mission that gives your program passion and meaning. Safety values, vision and mission are core to your risk system design.



3) Define the why, the how and the expectation – Risk statements typically have a lot of buzz words and unrealistic goals. For example, in the hazard risk area, although “Zero Accidents” is a term many use, it often leaves stakeholders frustrated because the challenge is tossed out without valid support or a plan to meet this goal.


Although your 5 minutes can be packaged to look pretty, if you are not addressing the why, how and expectation in a way that is obtainable, people will not connect and your message will just be another story that does not get a second look and does not drive them to action.



4) Include stakeholders – Best practice risk programs have roles and responsibilities for all parties. This is the opportunity to define all stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities, to get their perspective and include them in the message and the final edit. Saying it in 5 minutes is something stakeholders from each of your 3 Lines of Defense can contribute to and should be able to celebrate and support when it is completed.



5) Match the Video with the Script (your people in action) – This is the risk leader’s opportunity to tell the message in a way it has never been told. Each word is important and the video shots supporting the message are extremely valuable as well as the words and phrases that you emphasize. Scripts break your message into the hook, introduction, your value and message on the why and how and provides the expectation and conclusion. The hook gets their attention and ensures the audience is listening and the conclusion is your call to action.



“Say it in 5 minutes” is all about leadership. You cannot expect to engage and move people and processes to support your plan if your passion and your message are not understood or clear. The time you spend developing your 5 minutes can be one of the most valuable things you can do to impact your program.



Author Mark Bennett, Founder of Risk Innovation Group (RIG), is dedicated to helping large employers face the complexities of risk through innovative Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) practices. ERM programs don’t just help large employers manage business risks more effectively; a well-developed ERM program can protect and create value as well as improve business performance and generate a strong competitive advantage.  Contact:



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