5 Tips To Reduce Your Stress and Be More Productive

 

I think it is an understatement to say that claims professionals are under a lot of stress.  Nowadays adjusters are forced to do more with less, so in addition to the normal claim investigations they also have to do a billion other things along the course of a normal day.  Add in to that rigid auditing standards, service promises, increased claim counts, and the list goes on and on.

 

Below we talk about some easy ways to take some of the stress out of your life in order to improve your work-life balance.

 

 

  1. Don’t Get Intertwined in Social Media

 

In today’s world, everyone is a mouse click away.  Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on have made it possible that you can be connected to everyone, at all times, and the stresses of other people can become your stressors as well.  In fact people can reach out to you and vent about their own problems, which can take time away from whatever project you are working on.  So limit your social media interaction during work hours, and focus on the task at hand.  If you choose to get involved in a Facebook discussion about some hot political topic, do it away from work on your own time when it will not distract you as much.

 

  1. Leave Your Desk For A While

 

I know plenty of adjusters that work 10-11 hour days, and they rarely leave their desk except to go to the printer or to hit the bathroom.  Not only is this crazy, but it is also not healthy.  Getting up and walking around for a bit can be relaxing, especially if you can head outside for a while and get some fresh air.  Maybe go out to lunch every now and then and get away from that office atmosphere.  You don’t have to do it every day, even one or two days a week can make a difference.  The world is not going to fall apart just because you snuck out and got a piece of pizza on your lunch break.

 

 

  1. Decrease Your Social Engagements If Possible

 

Don’t get me wrong, heading to seminars or after work engagements can be a great way to network and share some down time with your friends or work peers.  But you have to keep your events in check.  If you have a crazy week and need the time to focus on other things, don’t be afraid to skip out on an engagement or two.

 

This can especially be true if you have kids that are active in sports or other things that can occur after your work hours during the work week.  Maybe the thing to decrease is the amount of activities they are involved in, since you have to be the one to pick them up and drive them to basketball practice.  Your kid doesn’t have to be on 3 basketball teams during the summer, and in doing this you can decrease their own time stressors as well. Or let them skip a few practices and go out for dinner, or go to a movie and spend some quality time with your children.  If they miss a practice or two I doubt that their ability to hit free throws will decrease.

 

 

  1. Put a Cap on the Hours You Spend at Home Working

 

Many adjusters and other professionals have the ability to access their work from any computer at any time.  This is a great thing to have when you need it, but it shouldn’t be something that you have to engage in all of the time, every single night, and every single week. If you fail to complete a few diary items, your employer is not going to go out of business and lay everyone off.  You have to prioritize what you HAVE to do at home after work hours, and what you COULD do.

 

The hard part here is that the life of a claims adjuster is never caught up.  Rarely can any adjuster be totally done with everything on every file at any given day. It’s like a constantly spinning wheel.  But there are plenty of things that can wait until tomorrow.  Your time after work is just that—your time.  If you choose to spend it plowing through countless medical records for a file then fine, but ask yourself if this is something that has to 100% be done right now and cannot wait until the following day back at the office.

 

 

  1. Take Time to Enjoy Your Hobbies, or Start a New One

 

If you love to golf, and you have had to skip your golf league the last few times because of working late, you need to make sure your time is a priority.  Working late can sometimes be unavoidable, but that doesn’t you can’t hit the driving range after you are done.  Whether it be hitting golf balls, hiking at the park, bowling, or going for a run, take the time to enjoy your hobby of choice.  Don’t put off that time and spending it in front of a computer.

 

These sports and hobbies are things you do to unwind and take your mind off the daily stress.  Not only will doing this reenergize yourself, but it will give you that quality “Me” time that everyone needs. Pencil that time in the calendar, and be sure to stick to it.  Make that a priority for once, instead of pushing it back time and time again.

 

 

Summary

 

In this profession we are all faced with a lot of different stressors, and they come at you from all angles.  Injured workers are stressed out because their balance of life is off due to an injury.  They are no longer working, no longer being productive, and they are worried about getting their own lives back in order.  So we not only have to deal with our own life stressors, but we have to figure out a way to try and solve the stressors of our claimants day in and day out.

 

Most of the adjusters use the excuse that “If I take some vacation time away from the office my workload only gets worse, which puts me farther and farther behind.” Part or all of this may be true, but you get vacation time or paid time off for a reason.  Nobody can work 365 days a year without going insane.  Pencil that time off in your calendar and stick to it.

 

 

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: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. 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 about workers comp issues.

Study Show Employers Dropping Ball With Workers Stress

No Procedures for Managing Stress in European Workers

 
Most European companies reportedly still don’t have procedures for managing workplace stress and other psychosocial risks, despite the increasing threat that they pose to Europe’s workers.
 
This situation is explored in two new reports from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), which look at the reasons why, with 79% of managers in the EU being concerned about stress at work, and 40% concerned with workplace harassment and violence, 74% of European businesses still do not have procedures in place to deal with these issues.
 
 
80% of Workers Expect Stress to Increase
 
The reports come at a time when increasing numbers of European workers are reporting problems with stress, and with a recent opinion poll showing that 80% of EU workers expect stress levels to increase in the next five years. The health problems associated with stress and other psychosocial risks are well known, and yet it seems that many European businesses are finding it difficult to prevent them.
 
Findings of the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER) show that only 3% of enterprises are tackling psychosocial risks in a fully holistic and systematic way, and 12% did not implement any of the key measures for managing psychosocial risks covered by the survey.
 
 
50 – 60% of All Lost Work Days From Psychosocial Risks
 
The reports looked at the factors that make businesses more likely to succeed in addressing these issues, including concerns being raised directly by employees, and an awareness of the business case for taking this issue seriously: currently some 50-60% of all lost working days are thought to be related to psychosocial risks, while mental health disorders are estimated to cost 240 billion Euros a year in the EU. Businesses that are aware of the close connection between psychosocial risks and high rates of absenteeism are much more likely to make serious efforts to manage those risks.
 
At the same time, the reports identify the barriers that many businesses encounter in trying to deal with psychosocial risks, including a lack of technical support and guidance, and a lack of resources.
 
 
Study Provides Snapshot of Managing Health and Safety
 
The two EU-OSHA reports, ‘Management of psychosocial risks at work’ and ‘Drivers and barriers for psychosocial risk management,’ follow up on EU-OSHA’s ESENER survey. This large-scale study provides a snapshot of the way that managers and workers' representatives are currently managing health and safety risks in Europe’s workplaces, with the focus especially on the growing area of psychosocial risks.
 
EU-OSHA will be making available practical tools for dealing with psychosocial risks in its forthcoming Healthy Workplaces Campaign, in 2014-15.
 

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 mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

STRESSED OUT – May or May Not Be Compensable Work Comp Claim

 

Everyone has varying degrees of stress in their lives, both inside of the workplace and out.  But the question employers have is when an employee comes to them and attempts to file a work comp claim stating that stress is their injury.  So what do you do? Is this a compensable claim, or should it be funneled more towards a disability claim?

 

Unless there is an extreme isolated event, stress will not be covered under the comp act (But you still should check with your legal counsel at all times).  General job stress is always going to be present.   Long work hours or a tight deadline to meet are considered normal within the workplace.   Just because the stress is present doesn’t mean that it is automatically a covered work comp claim.  [WCx]

 

The only scenario commonly accepted under work comp on a large-scale basis is a robbery, or some other very specific event that can lead to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.  Armed robberies, shootings, and other criminal acts that involve another employee can sometimes be covered under the work comp act, since that is deemed the specific catalyst in causing the stress condition.  Harassment, personnel issues within a company involving employment, layoffs, firings, and so on usually will involve more of a human resources issue, and will generally fall under Employment Law rather than Work Comp.  This will vary within the jurisdiction, but think about specifics of the actual activity, and how it caused a worker to be “injured”, either subjectively or objectively, within the course and scope of their employment.

 

We discuss some of the more popular factors of stress scenarios below:

 

  1. What happened?

Depending on the jurisdiction, general workplace stress can be a tough claim to prove to be compensable under whatever work comp statutes are governing the claim. If a worker comes to the employer and says they have stress and need to file a comp claim, no matter what the scenario, the claim should be filed with your carrier.  Remember, it is carrier’s job to determine what is work related and what is not, not yours.  In fact, just the actions of not reporting a claim to your carrier can lead you into hot water with the governing work comp bureau. Despite the issues, and whatever the scenario may be, just file the claim, do your normal investigation, and gather as much information as possible and send it to the adjuster handling the file. Chances are that normal workplace stress will result in a denied claim under work comp, and the worker will be directed to their personal insurance for treatment and coverage.

 

  1. Who was involved?

It is easy to say that a CEO of a large company has more actual job stressors than a person that works in the mail room sorting mail.  But is there an isolated event that caused this stress?  If so, who was involved? One example is altercations that turn physical between employees.   An employee injured in a fight that did not actually “start” the altercation could qualify as a compensable claim.  This situation will typically involve a lot of finger pointing as to who actually started the fight.  This will typically be accepted as comp for the person injured until the facts areiron-clad in their existence and witnessed by others.  If both parties cannot agree or there are other factors involved both inside of outside of the workplace then usually the carrier will not accept anything, and will let the employer be the responsible party as far as leading the investigation.  The workers could then say that they have stress to even come to work now, since they feel they are being judged or gossiped about by the other employees, and again maybe this is compensable and maybe it is not.  All you can do as the employer is report the claim, with as much information as you can, and pass it on to the adjuster handling the claim, and let them do whatever they see fit as far as compensability goes.

 

  1. So what is the injury?

Stress claims come to carriers in a variety of ways, claiming a lot of different subjective and objective injury allegations. Mental stress, fear of other employees or retribution from management over a task that failed, anxiety problems involving coping with the situation, inability to focus on tasks, lost sleep due to the claimant “reliving” the incident, and so on and so on. 

 

As the employer, look for the catalyst.  What caused this situation to manifest?  Was this a one-time acute issue that caused the situation, or was this something that was going on and on for months or years that finally boiled over and caused whatever situation to occur?  How many different coworkers and levels of management were involved during this ongoing time?  Was anything reported to management in the past, and if so what was done with discipline for the involved parties? The hard part of these claims will be talking to all of these other employees to get their sides of the story.  To some, it may have been no big deal, and they could laugh at the allegation of stress arising from this incident.  But to others, they could see it the exact opposite.  

 

People all cope with stress differently, both inside of work and out, and a lot of times these stress claims can involve employees that have a lot of instability outside of the workplace that they can be bringing in with them as soon as the punch the clock to start their shift.  This is what makes these claims so difficult.  Claimants often will not elaborate to their adjuster during the investigation about the stressors of their personal lives outside of work, in order to make this work incident seem all that more isolated, and that is why they think it should be compensable, whether it actually is or not. [WCx]

 

Summary

As an employer you are going to come across one of these stress claims at one time or another.  The most important thing to do is to not blow it off.  Take the claim seriously, and report it to your carrier promptly.  Gather as much information as you can, including names, dates, witnesses, and so on and have these coworkers give statements on what happened so the adjuster can have that as part of their file.  Some may be more willing to talk than others, but it is your job to investigate it as you would with any other claim, despite whatever your personal assessment may be.  In cases such as these, the adjuster can never have enough information, whether you think this claim is compensable or not.

 

 

 

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 author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

Editor 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 mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

What Stresses Employees the Most

Travel as a Stress Factor
The American College
of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reported employees who travel more than two-thirds of the month are more than two and a half times more likely to rate their health as poor than workers who travel less often.
 
 
According to HeartMath.com, the heavy travelers were also 92 percent more likely to be obese and had higher blood pressure and cholesterol than their co-workers who were only traveling one or two times per month. (WCxKit)
 
 

Authors of the study attributed the health discrepancies to the long car rides, unhealthy food, and disrupted sleep patterns that usually happen when someone spends a great deal of time away from home.

 
 
Interestingly, the research involving 13,000 employees also discovered that workers who did not travel were not as healthy as those who traveled lightly. The authors said this is likely due to the fact unhealthy workers are less likely to be put on travel assignments.
 
 
The researchers commented that organizations that want to assist their hard-working employees attain improved health may want take initiatives like implementing employee wellness programs and offering gym memberships.
 
 
High Level vs. Low Level Stress

While it is common knowledge that high levels of stress have detrimental effects on an individual's mental and physical health, a new study reports that even moderate anxiety may increase a worker's chance of disability by 70 percent. The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
 
 
According to a report from Heartmath.com, researchers examined the journal's data of more than 7,000 employees from 45 to 65 years of age over a five-year period. They discovered that the results supported long held beliefs regarding the health of those under intense stress but were surprised about the effects of everyday anxiety on individuals, a number that was high even when they corrected for lifestyle habits. An abstract of the journal's study indicated scientists looked at the combined effects of work stress and socioeconomic position. Figuring in socioeconomic position, occupational position and educational level, scientists found stress is related to angina pectoris, depression, and poor self-rated health. All three measures in the journal study created additional work stress but poor health was highest in cross-sections combining  high work stress and low socioeconomic position.(WCxKit)

The abstract reads, "Although stress at work was related to poorer health in the total study group, the strongest associations were consistently observed in men and women with low educational level or low occupational position. Worksite health promotion should be directed primarily towards these target groups."

 
Authors of the study commented its results could have important implications for modern employers, who seem to be placing more stress on workers than ever.
 
 
"Are the strains and demands of modern society commonly exceeding human ability?" researchers asked.
 
 
Stress accounted for one-fourth of disability claims related to physical illness, and two-thirds of those stemming from mental issues. (WCxKit)
 

Further, nearly 40%
of employees in a Chartered Management Institute (CMI) study pointed to their supervisor as a chief contributor of workplace stress. An additional 34% said their boss makes work less enjoyable and 10% blamed the boss for their poor health, as reported by website Heartmath.com.

 

 
Joe Robinson of the Huffington Post concluded workplace stress triggers the brain's panic responses saying, " Stress constricts  your brain to the perceived crisis and inhibits all the things that can reduce the stress, such as relaxation, recreation and play." This kind of stress can lead to anything from adrenal dysfunction to back pain, he said, noting that a relaxed breathing techniques are among the best tools for reducing stress.
 
In addition to making sure staff members have manageable workloads, organizations may want to think about employee wellness programs in order to lessen workplace stress and improve employee wellness.
 

 

 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
Our WORKERS COMP BOOK:  www.WCManual.com
 
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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