There are multiple facets to managing worker injury claims, but one of the most important which is not found in any claim filing instructions are managing expectations through compassionate communications.
It may seem odd to think about compassion in a business sense, but take a step back and think of the injured worker for a moment right after they have injured themselves at work. What do you think is going through their heads – especially in “blue-collar” work situations? The injured worker is not thinking about how they can scam the company or stay out of work, at least not the majority of people we’ve worked with. Yes, there are scammers out there that want to take advantage of the system, and may have injured themselves purposefully to become a leach, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. In the majority of situations, worker injuries are legit, and the workers that have suffered an injury are concerned and may be frightened on a number of fronts following an injury.
They will be asking themselves questions like: When will I be able to get back to work? When will I get their next paycheck? How will I pay my bills? Why me? What did I do to cause this loss? Who is going to pay all my medical bills? Will my job still be there when they recover? If the worker is disabled due to a serious injury the concerns will only be magnified.
This is why consistent communications conducted with compassion and care are critically important immediately following an injury and all the way through to being back on the job. Once the injured worker has been attended to medically, an owner or manager from the company should be making contact with the injured worker to do three things:
- Assure them that their medical bills and a portion of lost wages are covered under workers compensation. Some injured workers worry that some or all of their medical bills will be their responsibility and don’t know that workers comp will pay them without deductibles or co-pays. Taking that worry off their minds is a priority. Depending upon other company benefits, or voluntary insurances like Aflac, incorporate that into the conversation too.
- Talk about your company’s plan for getting them healthy and back to work – essential is the compassion to want them back to work as quickly as possible. Everyone desires to be valued and wanted, if you as the employer demonstrate the care and desire to get this person back on their feet and working when they are physically ready shows commitment. Tell them that you are going to schedule a weekly call (frequency to be determined) to check in with them and see how they are doing…. Again, this underscores your care and commitment to an employee.
- Investigation – getting all sides of the story surrounding the claim is crucial for several reasons, but in your first conversation with the injured worker it is important to gain insight into what happened, what caused the accident, and who may have witnessed the accident first hand. If the worker is able to spend time with you to discuss the accident than attempt to conduct as full of an investigation as possible. If the worker is in a hospital bed then it will of course need to wait, but here’s the point: in this first conversation you are showing concern that investigation is an important step in preventing a loss like this from ever happening again, so hit the major points – why did this happened, who may have seen it, what were you doing, how could this have been prevented?
In our experience, employers which continue a dialogue of care and compassion through the claims process close claims more rapidly, with less friction, litigation, and prolonged malingering. Most workers want to get back to work and be part of their team. As the employer, tell an injured worker that is your goal too with compassion, and you’ll experience greater employee satisfaction and lower claim costs. Lower claim costs equal lower premiums and indirect loss costs helping boost productivity and bottom line profit. For more information on how The Coyle Group can help your company reduce costs, please contact us at 845-634-3606. Thanks!