Gamifying the ‘Adjuster’ Mindset in Workers’ Compensation: A New Approach to Claim Management 

21 Jun, 2024 Claire Muselman

                               

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) -- The workers' compensation industry often grapples with lengthy claim processes, return-to-work delays, and heightened friction between stakeholders. Adjusters play a crucial role in navigating these challenges, yet the traditional methods of managing claims can be cumbersome and frustrating. To revolutionize this landscape, we propose gamifying the adjuster experience, leveraging the principles of serious games to realign motivations and enhance outcomes. By transforming the daily tasks of adjusters into engaging game-like experiences, we can tap into their intrinsic motivations and create a more dynamic and effective claims process. 

The Neuroscience of Motivation and Reward 

Understanding the adjuster mindset requires delving into the neuroscience of motivation and reward. Similar to the compulsive behaviors seen in conditions like trichotillomania (TTM), adjusters experience a complex interplay between 'wanting' and 'liking.' 'Wanting' reflects the motivation to achieve specific outcomes, while 'liking' pertains to the enjoyment of these achievements. In claims management, 'wanting' drives adjusters to close claims efficiently, while 'liking' provides the satisfaction of helping injured workers and resolving cases. Research suggests that 'wanting' is a more potent driver of behavior than 'liking,' highlighting the need to focus on motivational triggers. By gamifying the adjuster experience, we can harness these neurological pathways to foster a more engaging and rewarding work environment. 

Learning from Serious Games 

The concept of serious games, as demonstrated by a recent initiative to prepare communities for wildfires, offers valuable insights. In this case, a board game was designed to help Tomales, California, residents plan their evacuation strategies. Participants engaged with the game in a low-stakes setting, allowing them to think creatively and collaboratively about a high-stakes situation. This approach can be adapted to the workers' compensation industry, transforming the adjuster role into a more dynamic and interactive experience. Games are a powerful tool for exploring complex problems in a low-stress environment, enabling participants to develop innovative solutions that they can later apply in real-world scenarios. 

Designing the Adjuster Game 

1. Game Mechanics: 

The game for adjusters would involve various scenarios reflecting real-life claim situations. Adjusters would earn points for timely communication, effective case resolution, and innovative problem-solving. Like wildfire games, adjusters could start with bonuses or penalties based on their preparedness and historical performance. This structure ensures that the game mirrors the complexities and challenges of real-life claims management while providing a controlled environment for adjusters to experiment and learn. The game can keep adjusters engaged and motivated to continuously improve their performance by incorporating elements of chance and skill. 

2. Scenario-Based Challenges: 

Each game session would present adjusters with different scenarios, such as handling complex medical claims, negotiating with healthcare providers, or assisting workers with return-to-work plans. Adjusters would navigate these scenarios, making strategic decisions to earn rewards and advance in the game. These strategic decisions enhance their problem-solving skills and prepare them for the unpredictable nature of real-world claims. By simulating various cases, the game helps adjusters develop a broad skill set and adapt to different challenges. Additionally, the game's competitive aspect can drive adjusters to strive for excellence as they seek to outperform their peers and achieve top scores. 

3. Real-Time Feedback: 

Adjusters would receive real-time performance feedback to keep the game engaging. This instantaneous reward could include virtual badges, leaderboards, and progress reports. Positive reinforcement would be essential, rewarding adjusters for actions that align with best practices and improve overall outcomes. This immediate feedback loop helps adjusters understand the impact of their decisions and encourages continuous improvement. Over time, this can lead to the development of more effective and efficient claims management strategies, benefiting both adjusters and the injured workers they serve. 

4. Collaborative Elements: 

Just as the wildfire game encouraged community collaboration, the adjuster game promoted teamwork. Adjusters could form teams to tackle particularly challenging cases, share insights, and support each other. This collaborative element would help build a sense of community and shared purpose within the organization. By working together, adjusters can pool their knowledge and expertise to resolve claims more effectively. This collaboration enhances the overall quality of the claims process and fosters a more positive and supportive work environment. 

5. Continuous Improvement: 

The game would also feature a continuous improvement component, allowing adjusters to reflect on their performance and identify areas for growth. Regular debriefing sessions enable adjusters to share experiences, discuss strategies, and learn from one another. This ongoing feedback and reflection process is crucial for personal and professional development. By continually refining their skills and approaches, adjusters can achieve higher levels of proficiency and effectiveness. This emphasis on continuous learning and improvement helps create a culture of excellence within the organization. 

Realigning Rewards 

Central to this gamification strategy is the realignment of rewards. Adjusters might receive dopamine rewards from actions that do not necessarily contribute to optimal outcomes. By gamifying the process, we can shift these rewards towards actions that promote quicker return-to-work, efficient claim closure, and reduced friction. For example, adjusters earn immediate rewards for early interventions that expedite the return-to-work process. Additionally, creative solutions to complex cases are recognized and rewarded, fostering a culture of innovation. Actions that demonstrate genuine care for injured workers' well-being are highly valued, reinforcing the importance of empathy in claims management. 

Benefits of Gamification 

1. Increased Engagement: 

Gamifying the adjuster experience turns routine tasks into exciting challenges, making work more enjoyable and stimulating. As adjusters interact with game elements, they become more invested in their roles, driven by a sense of accomplishment and progress. This heightened engagement leads to higher job satisfaction and retention rates, fostering a more motivated workforce. When engaged, adjusters are more likely to go above and beyond in their roles, contributing to a more efficient and effective claims process. Moreover, engaged employees are less likely to experience burnout, as their work becomes a source of fulfillment rather than stress. 

2. Enhanced Performance: 

The competitive nature of gamification encourages adjusters to refine their skills and strategies to continually achieve better outcomes. Real-time feedback and performance metrics provide clear goals and benchmarks, pushing adjusters to excel. Over time, this leads to a more skilled and efficient team capable of handling complex claims with greater expertise. As adjusters improve their performance, they can handle more claims more effectively, reducing backlogs and speeding up the overall process. This increased efficiency benefits the organization and injured workers, who receive timely and effective support. 

3. Better Outcomes: 

By aligning rewards with positive behaviors, gamification ensures that adjusters focus on actions that yield the best results for injured workers and employers. Quick wins and innovation awards drive timely interventions and creative problem-solving, leading to faster claim resolutions. This improves the overall efficiency of the claims process and enhances the quality of care for injured workers. Better outcomes mean reduced costs for employers and insurance companies and a smoother recovery process for workers. Ultimately, this creates a more sustainable and effective workers' compensation system that benefits all stakeholders. 

4. Reduced Burnout: 

Traditional claims management can be monotonous and stressful, contributing to high burnout rates among adjusters. Gamification injects fun and variety into daily tasks, alleviating stress and monotony. By making work more enjoyable and providing regular recognition, gamification helps maintain adjusters' well-being and reduces turnover. When adjusters feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to stay with the organization, bringing their experience and expertise to bear on future claims. This continuity helps maintain high service standards and supports the organization's ongoing development of best practices. 

5. Stronger Team Dynamics: 

Collaborative game elements encourage adjusters to work together, share knowledge, and support one another in tackling challenging cases. This collaboration fosters a sense of camaraderie and teamwork, creating a more cohesive and resilient workforce. Enhanced team dynamics lead to better communication, problem-solving, and a more positive work environment. When adjusters collaborate effectively, they can address complex cases more efficiently and with greater creativity. This collective approach not only improves individual performance but also strengthens the team's overall capabilities, leading to better outcomes for all involved. 

By gamifying the adjuster mindset in the workers' compensation industry, we can create a more engaging, rewarding, and effective claims management process. Drawing from the principles of serious games, we can realign motivational triggers and foster a culture of continuous improvement. This innovative approach promises to transform the adjuster experience, leading to a quicker return to work, efficient claim closure, and reduced friction and frustration for all stakeholders involved. 

Gamification is not just a trend, nor is it just for children. It is a powerful tool that revolutionizes how we approach complex challenges. Training and development professionals everywhere should embrace gamification in all fields, including workers' compensation. By embracing this strategy, we can unlock new levels of performance and satisfaction in the workers' compensation industry, paving the way for a brighter future with optimal outcomes for all parties involved. 

This article was inspired by Robb D. Wright, OTR/L, from the Workers' Compensation Trust. 


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    About The Author

    • Claire Muselman

      Meet Dr. Claire C. Muselman, the Chief Operating Officer at WorkersCompensation.com, where she blends her vast academic insight and professional innovation with a uniquely positive energy. As the President of DCM, Dr. Muselman is renowned for her dynamic approach that reshapes and energizes the workers' compensation industry. Dr. Muselman's academic credentials are as remarkable as her professional achievements. Holding a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership from Grand Canyon University, she specializes in employee engagement, human behavior, and the science of leadership. Her diverse background in educational leadership, public policy, political science, and dance epitomizes a multifaceted approach to leadership and learning. At Drake University, Dr. Muselman excels as an Assistant Professor of Practice and Co-Director of the Master of Science in Leadership Program. Her passion for teaching and commitment to innovative pedagogy demonstrate her dedication to cultivating future leaders in management, leadership, and business strategy. In the industry, Dr. Muselman actively contributes as an Ambassador for the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation and plays key roles in organizations such as Kids Chance of Iowa, WorkCompBlitz, and the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance, underscoring her leadership and advocacy in workers’ compensation. A highly sought-after speaker, Dr. Muselman inspires professionals with her engaging talks on leadership, self-development, and risk management. Her philosophy of empathetic and emotionally intelligent leadership is at the heart of her message, encouraging innovation and progressive change in the industry. "Empowerment is key to progress. By nurturing today's professionals with empathy and intelligence, we're crafting tomorrow's leaders." - Dr. Claire C. Muselman

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