Achieving a Successful Partnership Among Stakeholders in Worker’s Compensation Claims

In the intricate landscape of worker’s compensation, establishing a successful partnership among stakeholders is paramount to ensuring positive outcomes for injured employees. From employers to risk managers, adjusters, and vendors, each stakeholder plays a crucial role in navigating the complexities of the worker’s compensation system and advocating for the well-being of injured workers. This article will delve into key insights shared during the recent WorkCompCollege webinar, highlighting strategies and best practices for fostering effective communication, empathy, and collaboration among stakeholders.

Watch the entire live course here: Achieving a Successful Partnership Among the Stakeholders: Part 2. 

The webinar featured insights from me and other industry experts:

  • Debra Livingston- CEO & Founder of ReEmployAbility
  • Ya’Sheaka Williams- QPWB Law Partner, Worker’s Compensation
  • Dr. Claire Muselman- Professor of Practice, Drake University, Training Physicians on Worker’s Compensation
  • Amalia Sanchez – Risk Manager for Culver City, Risk Management

We illuminated the challenges faced by stakeholders and emphasized the importance of creating a supportive environment for injured workers throughout the claims process. Together, we used our individual expertise to discuss worker’s compensation cohesively, finding areas of improvement and discussing best practices for all stakeholders on a claim. 

Engaging Larger Employers

Larger employers often understand the worker’s compensation system and have the resources to implement comprehensive programs. However, even with ample resources, they may overlook best practices. Effective communication and engagement from the beginning to the end of the claims process are critical for ensuring swift resolution and positive outcomes for injured employees. At times, issues get lost in the weeds, or employees may not feel supported by their employer during recovery. By connecting all stakeholders in the process, we can ensure that employers are doing the best they can to protect their injured workers. 

Sanchez noted that workers are an employer’s most valuable asset and that human connection needs to be maintained throughout the process. Williams and Dr. Muselman elaborated on the piece by focusing on communication and maintaining the employer/employee connection by keeping communication between co-workers and even continuing to include injured workers in company events. Frequently, employers may feel reticent to continue engaging with an injured worker. However, we have found that empathetic communication is vital for better outcomes.

Humanizing the Process

The human aspect of worker’s compensation cannot be overstated. It begins with viewing injured workers not as claimants but as individuals needing support and care. Employers must foster a culture of empathy, responsiveness, and inclusivity, recognizing the importance of maintaining connections with injured employees throughout their recovery journey. As a stakeholder in the process, working with a claim must begin with a point of view of empathy. Injured Workers often feel disconnected from their identity and workplace and usually deal with issues of alienation. Securing open lines of communication and reaching out if there are any concerns on a claim allow the injured worker to feel respected through the process. Moreover, this level of communication often leads to better recovery outcomes and a more seamless integration back into the workforce. 

Advocating for Injured Workers

All stakeholders must advocate for injured workers, prioritizing their well-being and ensuring timely communication and support. By dispelling myths and misconceptions surrounding communication between employers and employees, stakeholders can foster a more inclusive and supportive environment for injured workers. Stakeholders often deal with internalized prejudice about the worker’s compensation system and begin the relationship from an adversarial standpoint. Not only is this counterintuitive, but statistics indicate that this is only a stubborn myth. In reality, injured workers often have to deal with financial and home life stresses while worrying about their employment and recovery. The best thing various stakeholders can do (whether it’s nurse case managers, adjusters, lawyers, physicians, or HR professionals) is to meet the injured worker from a place of empathy and use that as the basis for handling the claim. By treating injured workers with the kindness and respect they deserve, we can create an industry that supports those with injuries instead of villainizing them.

The Role of HR Professionals

HR professionals play a vital role in advocating for injured workers within organizations. However, they are often disconnected from the worker’s compensation process. An HR Director let us know that within larger companies, the role of the HR professional within a Worker’s Compensation claim begins and ends with filling out the initial paperwork. Often, HR does not play a role in a claim, and communication with the injured worker stops until the claim is resolved. Bridging this gap between HR and risk management is essential for ensuring injured workers receive the support they need and remain connected to the workplace during recovery. By bringing HR professionals into the Worker’s Compensation process, companies can ensure injured workers stay connected to their employer even during recovery. HR professionals are encouraged to be advocates for injured workers and maintain “human-centered” communication on a claim from beginning to resolution. Reaching out to an injured worker, and asking if there are any concerns or issues as they recover is paramount and leads to better outcomes for all.

Empowering Smaller Employers

Smaller employers may lack the resources of larger organizations but can still implement effective strategies for supporting injured workers. Simple gestures, such as regular check-ins and clear communication, can significantly impact an injured employee’s recovery journey. The most impactful difference from smaller employers is the necessary education that happens as smaller employers learn more about the worker’s compensation system. Aligning yourself with multiple connections in the field can help smaller employers have their questions answered. Additionally, smaller employers have the luxury of really staying connected to injured workers throughout their recovery. Smaller organizations are natural partners to injured workers when they begin the process with an open mind. Smaller companies have the privilege of working with their injured employers more directly instead of the potential for injured employees to get lost within larger organizational structures.

Educating Stakeholders

Education ensures all stakeholders understand their roles and responsibilities within the worker’s compensation process. By fostering a continuous learning and communication culture, organizations can improve outcomes for injured workers and mitigate potential conflicts. Education involves webinars, such as this one, but also is contingent upon creating a change in expectations within the system. All stakeholders are empowered to make the changes that align with their morale values where they are and ensure that their segment of the process is focused on advocacy first. Change will happen in the industry when all levels of the Worker’s Compensation claim understand that, ultimately, worker’s compensation is about healing and allowing injured individuals to return to their lives after suffering from an accident or incident. Education begins by empathizing with the injured worker and doing the best we can for them throughout their claim.

Final Thoughts

Creating a successful partnership among stakeholders in worker’s compensation claims requires a collective effort and commitment to empathy, communication, and collaboration. By prioritizing the well-being of injured workers and advocating for their needs, stakeholders can drive positive change within the worker’s compensation system and create a more supportive and inclusive environment for all employees.

As we navigate the complexities of worker’s compensation, let us lead by example, foster empathy, and strive for a system that advocates for the individuals at the center of a claim. In conclusion, let us embrace the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of injured workers and work together towards a future where compassion and collaboration define our approach to worker’s compensation.

Watch the entire live course here: Achieving a Successful Partnership Among the Stakeholders: Part 2.