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Property Casualty

Cut Out ‘The Talk’ and Use a Return to Work Program

Rod Miner
Rod Miner
Vice President of Commercial Claims, Property Casualty

Can you tell me who Wendy Williams, Tracey E. Bregman, or Steve Burton are? Would you recognize the opening credits to “The Talk,” “The Kitchen,” or “Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court”? If you own a business or work a daytime shift, hopefully not. These are all nominees for the 2016 Daytime Emmy Awards.

Aside from watching these shows at night on your DVR, any employer’s goal is to have all of their employees efficiently working each day and not recovering from an injury on the couch with Whoopi or Maury. Unfortunately, per The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (USBLS), American workers missed an hour a week on average from their employment due to illness or injury, often times work-related.

The USBLS also reported the overall incidence rate of non-fatal, occupational injury and illness cases requiring days away from work was 107.1 cases/10,000 full-time workers in 2014. While this was slightly lower than 2013, the median number of days away from work to recuperate was nine in 2014 — a full day more than 2013.

This all leads to higher costs and less productivity for your business. But there’s something you, as an employer, can (and should) be doing about it — and Holmes Murphy can help!

Return-to-Work Programs

Proactive, return-to-work programs are a must for today’s business owners. Besides the direct cost of your workers’ compensation carrier paying the injured employee for time off work, there are other hidden costs always coming into play, including:

  • Lost efficiency of injured employees
  • Cost of training employees or hiring replacement employees
  • Overtime of employees left to make up for missed hours
  • Overall morale decrease
  • Negative impact on your work comp mod (and therefore future premiums)

Employees off work more than six months have a 50 percent return-to-work rate. Turnover, regardless the cause, is costly, too.

  • The average cost is 1.5 times an annual salary.
  • 80 percent of turnover costs are hidden.
  • OSHA indicates a $2,300 claim ends up costing the employer $12,650 total taking into consideration hidden costs.

Where should employers begin?

First, you should create a job bank for such situations. Meaningful, productive, modified duty jobs for injured employees, regardless if it’s due to a work-related incident or not. Think in terms of limited lifting, movement, or both. One arm duty. Frequent rest duty. Sitting down. You get the picture.

Also, can you use different departments, locations, and/or shifts? Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Some carriers and vendors can help align injured employees working as a volunteer at various community not-for-profit organizations. Holmes Murphy has reached out to some of these organizations, so don’t be afraid to ask us for a potential partner.

Successful return-to-work programs have three elements:

  1. Short-term — This won’t not be an employee’s ultimate, full-time job.
  2. Evolving — As an employee’s restrictions change, so does his or her job.
  3. Meaningful — The psyche of an injured employee is at stake. If compensability is questionable, let’s work with the adjuster to verify it. If compensable, let’s work to get your most valuable resources motivated and back to work.

Besides the cost savings mentioned earlier, there are multiple benefits to both the employer and employee by having a return to work program in place.

Employer benefits:

  • Keeps a productive employee productive
  • Prevents poor morale from the injured employee and the co-workers having to keep up
  • Helps keep the employee engaged and away from “The Chew,” “The Talk,” and commercials

Employee benefits:

  • Promotes faster recovery
  • Maintains earning capacity and a sense of self worth
  • Prevents disability and a sense of helplessness and/or becoming disconnected.

Besides having a formal, written return-to-work program, employers should proactively communicate the plan to new employees, as part of the benefits program, and once an employee is injured. Having a designated lead or contact for the program is also suggested. Finally, engaging involved medical providers and adjusters once a loss has occurred to ensure they know of your program and willingness to get employees back to work is vital.

If you have questions about how to get started, comment below and ask. Additionally, Tim Lefler, Holmes Murphy Claims Service Consultant, and I recently held a return-to-work webinar on March 3 as part of our quarterly claim management webinar series. We’d be happy to send you the audio/presentation. Simply click here, submit your contact information, and add a quick note that you’d like a copy of the return-to-work webinar and we’ll get it sent right to you!

We hear it all the time. “Our people make the difference.” If that’s the case, having a plan to keep them productively in place only makes sense. That, and, let’s be honest, daytime television hasn’t been the same since “As the World Turns” went off the air.

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