Proactive, Early Claims Resolution
At Single Handed, our number one goal is to get workers back on the job as soon as possible. Starting the process early saves employers time, money, and stress while alleviating employee’s worries about their livelihoods. Taking a proactive approach sends a positive message to the rest of the staff that you have a clear and effective process in place for taking care of your team and achieving the best outcome for everyone.
Multiple studies have found that employees who are off work for more than six months are 50% less likely to return to work. The cost of retraining a new employee is between six and nine months of the original salary, according to some estimates. On the other hand, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics notes that 80-90% of injured workers would rather return to work than collect disability.
Medical issues can prevent employees from returning right away, but that doesn’t mean employers can’t begin the process and have a plan in place for their return. Having a Return to Work (RTW) plan in place reduces the length of an injured employees absence by an average of 3.6 weeks, according to the RAND Institute for Civil Justice.
Most employers are focused on the task at hand: running their business. They likely have neither the time nor energy to explore creative options for getting employees back to work, modifying their duties or retraining them. But failing to take action quickly can be expensive. Between paying time loss compensation to employees for lost wages and potentially covering medical fees - all while paying someone else to perform the injured employee’s duties - the costs are prohibitive. Studies have shown that early contact and starting to work on claims sooner results in a dramatic decrease in claim costs.
Aside from that, Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) rates can go up as a result, along with the company’s risk classification ratings. Loss history is taken into account when calculating your workers’ compensation premium. Keeping a claim medical-only means an injured worker doesn’t receive wage-replacement/time loss benefits. In Washington State, the three days following an injury are considered a waiting period; if the employee is able to return to their regular duties within that time frame, costs are reduced by up to 70%.
If not, Single Handed can help employers design other options, including modifying the original job to accommodate an injury, looking at transferable skills that allow the employee to work in a different department within the same company, or retraining the worker for another role. Through L&I’s Stay at Work program, employers can keep someone on the job and continue to pay them a salary instead of paying time-loss compensation to L&I for lost wages.
Reducing Injured Employee Stress
Understandably, injured employees are worried about their ability to support themselves and their families. The longer the claims process is drawn out, the greater the opportunity for that concern to grow. A proactive approach to claims management eases their minds and makes them less likely to pursue litigation and more likely to return to work.
Reducing Employer Stress
Dealing with worker compensation claims is no picnic; Single Handed Vice President Katie Leneker refers to the ‘paperwork tsunami’ that accompanies both claims and vocational rehabilitation. Beginning the process early allows our team to create a road map for the process with clear roles and responsibilities and introduce multiple options that employers may not have considered. Reducing time pressure also allows for more productive interactions among employer, employee, medical personnel, and L&I staff.
Strengthening Company Culture
While the most obvious impact of a workplace injury is to the person involved, others are affected as well. The rest of the staff will be watching to see how the company handles the situation. Single Handed can help business leaders develop effective language for addressing the issue and facilitate a collaborative atmosphere where everyone is working toward getting their respective needs met. Getting in front of the claims process early decreases the likelihood that a corrosive environment develops based on unclear communication, which can reduce productivity and erode trust.
Single Handed’s proactive approach benefits employers and employees and contributes to a better work environment overall.