Advocacy model may attract millennials to workers comp.



ORLANDO, Fla. — Promoting a noble goal in workers compensation — getting an injured worker back on the job — could be key to attracting more millennials to the industry, which panelists at the Workers’ Compensation Institute’s 2018 Educational Conference acknowledged will lose upward of 50% of its most experienced executives in the next decade.

“In claims the work is so service driven … that needs to be what we lead with” in attracting younger workers, said panelist Wesley Hyatt, Boston-based senior vice president and manager of workers compensation commercial insurance for Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., in a Monday session at the gathering in Orlando, Florida, on what the future holds for workers comp.

While the comp industry is bracing for claims from the older workforce and the challenges in claims management for injured workers with complicated claims that stem from age-related comorbidities, it’s also looking inward to deal with its own aging workforce dilemma: the exodus of talent to handle claims effectively.

“Most of us in this room knows that when you lose an (experienced) examiner you lose six to nine months in the claims process,” said Susan Emerson, Atlanta-based general manager of claims management, disability, leave and workers compensation for Delta Airlines Inc., adding that “losing that knowledge on the claims just makes it more difficult.”

Seeking a solution, the industry need look no further than results from a January 2018 survey of millennials — those born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s — and their perceptions about business and work, said panelist Thomas W. Warsop, Jersey City, New Jersey-based chairman and CEO of York Risk Services Group Inc., referring to a recent study by consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd.

The survey found that 48% of 10,455 millennials around the globe believe businesses behave ethically and 47% believe that business leaders are committed to helping improve society — highlighting a “stark mismatch between what millennials believe responsible businesses should achieve and what they perceive businesses’ actual priorities to be,” according to the survey.

“One of the things that millennials value above anything else is they want their employer and they want to be in a job that is striving to make a difference in the world,” said Mr. Warsop, adding that the first order of business at the WCI conference was giving awards to industry people and companies who are making strides in improving workplace safety and giving back to their communities.

“It struck me that we have a huge opportunity,” said Mr. Warsop. “We are focused on (making) the workplace safer and safer ... I think this is a great place to be, but it will require a tremendous effort on our part.”

For some in comp, the do-good approach lends itself to the advocacy model, a relatively new shift in attitude toward injured workers that is less adversarial and more worker-friendly, panelists said.

Delta Airlines in 2012 switched to the advocacy model after holding focus groups among injured workers asking them of their experience with the comp system, said Ms. Emerson. “The common thing (we heard) was you treat me like a criminal, you don’t believe what I say,” she said.

As a result Delta, removed the “insurance chagrin,” she said. “We took away the terminology (of) denial … removing those terms that set the (negative) tone.”

Chris Watson, Jacksonville, Florida-based chief operating officer of One Call Care Management Inc., said the model has become part of the company’s interview process: “Can you do everything you can to help that injured worker?”

“We focus on the outcome of what we do, and that’s getting that injured worker healthy and back to work,” he said of attracting younger talent aligned with company goals. “What we do from a care perspective resonates with those millennials … being focused on service delivery and keeping that injured worker on the forefront.”

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