In this article, we discuss the importance of a workers comp communication plan which is initiated following a worker injury.
I’ve witnessed it too many times.
An employee gets injured on the job and they get the cold shoulder from their employer.
No communications, no instructions, no empathy.
And then the employer wonders why morale is poor, and why claims have a less than stellar end result.
Look, worker injuries can happen. We work as hard as we can to train employees, have proper safety devices, and an ongoing culture of safety, but there will be times when an employee is rushing to complete a job, taking a short cut, or fails to understand the job – and someone gets injured.
In many cases, this will be the first time the worker needs to deal with a work-related injury and workers compensation insurance.
It’s not the time to turn a cold shoulder or make the process institutional or turn it over entirely to your insurer. NOW is the time for compassion and communication. Especially if you want to build goodwill with employees, manage expectations properly and end up with the right results.
Put yourself in the shoes of that injured worker.
What’s going through their minds once the emergency of the situation has passed and they’re in a hospital bed or resting at home?
It’s probably going to be fundamental things like:
- Who is going to pay for all these medical bills?
- What happens to my wages?
- Can my family afford to pay the bills while I’m away from work?
- Do I have a job to go back to when I’m able to work?
- Was this my fault?
- What happens next?
These are fearful issues running through the minds of an injured worker.
Fear is a powerful motivator which can drive good people to make poor choices – like hire a worker’s comp attorney and drag out the duration and cost of a claim unnecessarily. I’m not saying that an attorney is never a good idea, but in my experience, it’s unnecessary and costly for the worker and the employer.
The point is that removing that fear from the onset with the right workers comp communication plan can pay tremendous dividends down the road.
So, how do you do it?
What type of messages are included in a communication plan?
Every employer and workforce is different, but generally speaking here are the broad topics you want to talk about with injured workers once the “emergency” of the situation has settled:
- Explanation of how the workers comp system works, including paying for all medical and rehab costs as well as paying a portion of lost wages. If your company has supplemental insurance such as Aflac, or disability coverage this should be included in that conversation too.
- Emphasize that the employer’s priority is to get the injured worker healthy and back to work. Their job is safe and they’re a valued member of the team.
- If the injury was serious and involves a rehab period, tell the employee that you will find the light or modified duty work to get them back to the company as soon as their medical provider says it’s okay to do so.
- Ask the employee for assistance in the accident investigation process. How did this happen? What can be done to prevent this from happening to a co-worker? Is there a better way to perform the task that led to the injury? Engaging them at this level validates their value.
- Help the worker manage the medical process – including transportation to and from appointments, keeping appointments, etc. The road to getting a worker back to work can be challenging for some workers and their families – especially if English is not their primary language. If you provide assistance here, you’ll look like a champ, and everyone wins.
Here’s the bottom line.
If you want better claim outcomes it pays to engage an injured worker immediately following an injury.
Reassurance and kindness go a long way to help stem legal involvement. It will help build rapport and goodwill between the injured worker, their family, and the employer. It will help get that injured worker back to work sooner and on better terms. Resentment will be lessened, and the general morale of all employees will increase. All keys to an effective workers comp communications plan.
Improved morale is a key to improving productivity and enhancing profitability.
If employees are truly your most valuable asset, then a plan to get them back to work communicating positively with them during a challenging time is critical.
If you find workers compensation claims, or company safety, an issue you don’t know how to deal with, let’s chat. I work with industrial companies around the New York Metro area large and small with their workers compensation insurance and risk management programs.
Not getting the support you really need?
Think you’re paying more for workers compensation than you think you should?
Wonder if you can improve safety in your workplace?
Then give me a call and let’s chat. If I think we’re a good fit for you and your firm we’ll engage and help you get on track.
Give me a call or drop me an email – I promise no hardcore selling, just a conversation to see if we’re a good fit.