I know your pain. I’ve seen it before.
Escalating treatment costs, bureaucratic red tape, dishonest (or simply unmotivated) employees – all of these factors can easily and quickly combine to send your workers compensation bill through the roof.
But take heart. There are nine steps you can take right now to begin mitigating and protecting yourself against rising workers compensation costs.
Any mix of the below could work for you, but, like anything else, results depend on implementation and commitment.
Here we go…
1) Show you care.
This might seem obvious because you probably do care about your employees as much as you care about your business. But life gets busy, and there are a lot of moving parts to an organization. Employees may consider hiring an attorney and/or try to game the system when they feel undervalued or misunderstood. Bringing them back to work as quickly as possible often begins with a sincere and repeated effort to communicate with them. Most people want to be useful. Try showing the benefit of the doubt by giving your employees the chance to be forthcoming.
On a related note, poor or inconsistent communications are often the number one culprit when business processes and programs break down or become inefficient. Make an effort to communicate not only with your employees but your claims professionals. This has the added benefit of helping to ensure that every possible option is being explored in order to expediently get your employee healthy and back to work in a reasonable amount of time.
Memory can be a fickle thing, especially when it comes to injury claims. If you don’t already have a reporting process, take a few minutes today to begin developing one. If you do have a program for identifying, reporting, and investigating claims, perhaps take a few minutes today to revisit it. Is your policy or program working? Can it be refreshed? Does it encourage everyone involved to begin gathering information right away, as soon as a claim is filed? This is also a great way to prepare in advance for communications with claims professionals. The most painful kind of red flag is the one you missed when your attention was elsewhere. Save yourself a future headache by getting ahead of claims.
I know I don’t have to remind you to file your reports. But, as we’ve established, life gets busy, bureaucracy slows things down, and sometimes not everyone involved in a workers compensation situation is on your side. “Knowledge” of a claim begins when someone of authority is made aware that an injury has occurred or has been “alleged.” Timely reporting ensures you’re doing everything in your power to address the situation honestly and in total compliance with applicable law.
5) Direct employee care.
One of the most effective ways to control medical costs is to do everything you can to make sure your employee has access to effective medical treatment. A medical provider network (MPN), for instance, can help ensure that vetted physicians are in charge of your employee’s care. A little careful attention can go a long way towards helping everyone when it comes to an injury.
6) Start a first aid program.
Speaking of helping everyone, implementing a means of providing early medical treatment has the potential to save you thousands in health care premiums down the line. Why not look into adding a first aid program or checking in on the status of any that already exist at your company?
7) Cultivate a return-to-work philosophy.
Like many other suggestions on this list, a culture that actively encourages employees to return to work (via its programs and policies) has the positive effect of affirming your company as a place where the employee (and their contributions) are valued. Transitional work arrangements, modified duty, alternative duty – all have the potential to re-engage your employee earlier in their recovery, thereby combatting any view of workers compensation as a pass for staying at home. Such arrangements can also reduce lost-time wage payment costs for you and your organization.
8) Accelerate resolution via partnership.
Return-to-work programs can benefit hugely from vendor partners that help with release or transitional work, or from nurse case managers who help facilitate effective and timely treatment. The workers compensation system can get complicated and frustrating – but you don’t have to enter into it alone.
9) Start today.
This last one is sort of a repeat of one of my initial observations, but I’m including it here to reinforce the importance of beginning to refine your approach to workers compensation before it’s too late.
You and I both know that we can’t always depend on legislation, on our employees, or even on our old ways of doing things. Costs often continue to rise, until or unless we take action.
So which of these methods are you going to look into today? Let me know in the comments, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about workers compensation – or any other topics that fall within my expertise.
If you want even more information about how to take control of your workers compensation costs, you can also download a free PDF report at www.leavitt.com/LeavittPacific/em/kerry-tuma.aspx