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Home | From Bob's Cluttered Desk | The Workers' Recovery Concept Hits the Big Stage at NWCDC

The Workers' Recovery Concept Hits the Big Stage at NWCDC

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I must admit, as a proud father I might be biased, but she looked beautiful up on that stage. Her delivery was pitch perfect, and she sounded wonderful to the very large audience assembled. I am not talking about a child, however. I am talking about a concept; a concept that I have been promoting for several years both here in the blog and many conferences around the nation. Last Wednesday, however, was her “big moment”; a moment that took her from the Off Broadway Wilson Road Show to the big stage itself. I have to say the performance was a stunning success, with the delivery right on target.

The concept, of course, is that workers’ compensation is, for today’s purposes, improperly named. People entering the system are completely oblivious as to who we are or how the system works. Too often they latch onto the one word they understand, “compensation”, and fail to focus on the longer term needs such as proper treatment, health and wellness. This is particularly damaging as these people do not understand the concept of compensation in the manner that we are statutorily set to provide it. Therefore I have been advocating for several years that our industry must be renamed. Workers’ Compensation should be called Workers’ Recovery.

Change the name and you change the culture; virtually overnight.

Last week, Tim East, Director of Corporate Risk Management for the Walt Disney Company, delivered an outstanding Keynote presentation to the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference. He discussed the need to anticipate and accept change within our industry, and relayed excellent points related to how the words we use can positively impact our outcomes.

As Risk and Insurance Magazine reported last week:

Employers have been advised for years to refer to their people as “injured workers” rather than claimants. But East took that concept further, noting that Disney refers to its claims adjusters as workers’ comp representatives.

“The worst thing we can call somebody is a loss adjuster,” he said, because it sends a message to injured workers that they’re just numbers in need of adjustment. 

“The labels you give people reflect how you think about them,” said East.

But that point extends beyond people. The claims process, for instance, should be reframed as the claims experience, he suggested.

“Dairy products and chopped meat go through processes. People should not be processed,” said East.

It also shifts perceptions when employers stop talking about return to work, and start talking about “recovery while working.”

It was at this point that East presented the concept of “Workers’ Recovery” to the audience. Calling it a “really good idea”, he accurately described some of the anecdotes I have used to make the original argument. No father could not have been more proud of his “child”, and in that moment my Cluttered Desk was the “happiest place on earth”. I appreciate that he gave me full credit for the concept during his presentation, but I was more thrilled that he simply presented and endorsed the idea.

After all, if it is to ever reach fruition, more people need to be talking about it than yours truly.

So, Workers’ Recovery finally hit the big time, and the reviews I’ve heard are very positive. I think it was a very strong step for the concept. It is a simple word that can have an enormous impact. The “Recovery” army appears to be growing, and it will make a difference. 

Workers’ Recovery for the next 100 years. Seriously people, change the name and you will change the culture. I guarantee it.

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About "From Bob's Cluttered Desk"

Robert Wilson is President & CEO of, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.

Bob has a couple unique personality characteristics. He firmly believes that everyone has the right to his (Bob's) opinion, and while he may not always be right, he is never in doubt. Enter at your own risk, and like all of our blog areas, we encourage you to read the disclaimer at the bottom of the page.

We're not responsible for this guy.....

Bob is an accomplished speaker for the workers' compensation industry. He is available for conferences, corporate events, children's birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs. You may access his Speakers Brief here.

Join Bob and over 17,000 employers and professionals on his LinkedIn group - the Workers Compensation Roundtable. Join here today!

Follow Bob on Twitter at his personal account @WorkCompKing

Subscribe to comments feed Comments (3 posted)

12/07/2016 10:23:57
It's called the power of suggestion, labeling and rebranding. I agree completely Bob!!
Gerri Mooney 12/07/2016 17:08:59
Robert, I was previously with the Oklahoma Workers' Comp Court and had the pleasure of offering a Basics course on workers' compensation for the supervisor. When faced with a room filled with supervisors and managers, I would usually start off with...

"Who is this room has ever been injured on the job?" No?... hmmm; (rarely was there a raised hand). "Who in this room has ever dealt with an insurance adjuster?" "Perhaps a car wreck??" (There will be a few hands raised).

Then pin them down --- how would YOU like to be treated as if you were dirt beneath their feet, that you were a liar; spoken to rudely, how would you react?

Its always interesting when you turn the tables and ask them how they would like having their mom, dad, hubby, etc. being treated poorly.

It also helps when I spoke to people that they knew that I had been an adjuster for over 30 years, a wife of a union man 29 years, and my husband and I had been injured on the job.

Not all adjusters or claims personnel are rude and heartless; but I have been very pleased to read and know that there are others "out there" who believe in treating people with respect and dignity, even when you have to decline a claim. (Its that old "golden rule" thing!)

Congratulations for getting through to people and that your concept is being shared! You must have a warm fuzzy feeling right now!
12/11/2016 20:01:58
This is a great idea!

I also wish permanent disability ratings were thought of with a different mindset, and that it is stated this is where the person is now but it may not be permanent. Sometimes people do improve, but if you label them 100% permanently disabled, 80% permanently disabled etc they may believe it. I see injured workers repeating this label in their narrative about themselves years later.
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