A Love Letter to the Workers' Compensation Industry

                               

The workers’ compensation industry has been my home, and my family for the past (almost) 18 years. This has been a space of such fantastic opportunity and enhancement of the human spirit. This space is amazing, beautiful, and full of glitter and sparkles waiting to be tapped into across the board.

Our industry is a fascinating one because it exists to make good things happen for others. It is an environment where people can be single-handed game changers who create opportunity and a bright, shiny light for people who have been injured, during their darkest moments.

We exist to make good things happen for other people. How fabulous is this!! What an amazing opportunity! We can arrive in our role each and everyday in a way to serve others, make lives better, and leave an impact creating a ripple effect beyond our wildest dreams.

During my time on the claims side, I learned there was a lot of negativity surrounding the workers’ compensation space from messaging, poor mindset, tainted beliefs supported by invalid facts, and a perspective needing to be shaken up. I came to make things different here by adding the positivity of helping people, infusing servant leadership, and creating a space where people felt seen, heard, acknowledged, and valued no matter what your position… claims side, employer side, vendor partner, or most important… the injured worker.

As MLK Day was Monday, one of the quotes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated that has always resonated with me, and feels very appropriate in the workers’ compensation arena: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Each one of us can choose how we show up, how we interact with others, and how we drive outcomes for the betterment of this industry. It is the basis for meaning and purpose as a whole!

Adjusters… Workers’ Recovery Specialists… Workers’ Empowerment Specialists…

Please acknowledge no matter what work environment you are existing in, you have the power to show up as your very best self to make great things happen. How you answer the telephone, how often you communicate, how you create consumable information, and most important… how you care is what will keep the industry on its toes and moving forward.

The adjusting position can feel thankless, focused on compliance pieces that are outdated and do not serve the outcomes of restoring injured workers to being functional, contributing members of society. Change how you think about your position. Change how you view yourself. When people ask what you do from a career standpoint, how do you respond? Remember, you are a single-handed game changer who makes great things happen for people by restoring injured human beings to functional, contributing members of society, focused upon getting someone back to LIFE. Sounds a little different than “just being an adjuster” doesn’t it? Mindset matters. Do you feel your position is important? I know it is. I hope you do too.

If you currently are employed with a group who does not have this mindset or beliefs, leave. This is your time to go find a home where people want you to thrive and make good things happen!! There are amazing claims organizations who have the belief systems infused to drive the good stuff. Go find it. It exists, it matters, and the way you see yourself can ultimately depend on it. Go. Be. Awesome!!

Claims Leaders…

How you make your team feel is a direct reflection of yourself and how you view this space. Many times we have promoted people based upon their technical efficiencies. Are you one of them? If you lack emotional intelligence and strong servant leadership skills, please secure a mentor. This space needs more empathy focused humans with a strong communication background and those with a vision of no matter what red tape is involved, their team members feel VALUED.

The claims space has historically treated its contributing members as disposable. This leads to those handling the claims of injured workers to treat the people in which they interact with as disposable as well. We are all humans, being. Value, acknowledgement, care, concern, and compassion… these elements matter so much more than we are ever showcased or is highlighted in a claims training. Be the change by how you treat your team and how you show up as yourself. It matters.

If you currently are employed with an organization that does not showcase or represent this mindset or beliefs, change it. You are a leader and you should lead by example in all the fantastic ways! Create the organizational dynamic and culture needed where people thrive and make good things happen!! You can do this. One step at a time, day after day. Go be awesome, not only for yourself, but for your team!

Strategic Partners… Vendors…

The mission, vision, and values of your company matter. During my time in this space, one question continued to arise, “How do we work with you?” or “How do we secure your business?” There is a three-element approach I hope all organizations take when being asked this in workers’ compensation.

Number one: Are you going to improve the life of my injured worker? How are you going to accomplish this? The most imperative element to being involved in a strategic partnership or vendor relationship is based upon the value and improvement you can offer to improve the situation of my injured worker. And I am going to call them MY injured worker because it is MY duty to make the very best things, situations, healing path for this person once they enter our environment. You are an extension of ME. I hope adjusters feel this ownership too.

Number two: How are you going to make the adjusting desk/claims handler life more effective, more efficient, and easier so they can spend more time with the injured worker on elements that matter? The adjusting desk can get severely weighed down by paperwork, check boxes for audits, and areas which do not necessary improve the claims experience because our industry “has always done it this way.” If you want to be a valuable partner, how are you going to improve the experience of the injured worker by helping increase the efficiency of the adjusting member? The value you provide must be felt and experienced for the adjusting team, not in soft numbers or fictitious savings.

Number three: ADD VALUE. You are creating an element to improve the current dynamic of a team or organization. This is a partnership meaning you are an extension of this team, representing this organization. This industry has profited enough on human suffering. It is time to step up your game, improve the experience for the injured worker, improve the experience for the adjuster, and help organizations thrive in ways they were not currently operating. Simply put, do what you say you will do and do it with care, compassion, and concern for the injured worker.

Employers…

Please. Any leader you hire, have them understand the value and put it in a handbook that they reach out to anyone on their team who is injured. Having the direct leader of an injured worker reach out to check in and see how things are going is of the utmost importance and not emphasized enough.

Any person who is a leader of people should be aware of the impact this makes. It shows CARE. It shows that this person who was hired to be a part of your team and your organization does matter. You do not need to ask for any personal or medical information, you simply need to be a human being and reach out to build further human connection during a time which is not so pleasurable for the injured worker.

The employer side can do so many amazing things through small acts like having the direct supervisor reach out. It is such an important concept post-injury and throughout the process. This continued line of communication needs to flow throughout the lifecycle of a workers’ compensation claim. By doing so, this will help alleviate emotional hijacking which can cause additional stress, inflammation, and inhibit the healing process. It can create animosity within the employer space and create a negative dynamic for an injured worker to return simply by taking action to check in and care about the people on your team. It really is that simple.

Final Thoughts…

The biggest differentiator I have experienced in the organizations I have been able to be a part of on the claims side were defined in DIFFERENCE by showing they care. These organizations differentiate themselves by genuinely caring about the people who are on their teams, representing their organizations, and about how this care, compassion, and concern flow throughout their groups to represent injured workers. It really is that easy, you simply care.

I have enjoyed my 18 years on the claims side and I will continue to check in, suggest hints, write about the passion points of this space because if you do not keep driving this space forward, who will? I believe we can make this industry the best it has ever been, it all starts with you.

Effective February 1st, I will be moving over to the employer side, making good things happen for people in a safety, human resources, compliance, insurance, and workers’ compensation manner. I will still be here. I will still be adding the glitter and sparkles where I can. Now the rest is up to you. YOU get to be this change I have been talking about for years and I hope that you do because it has been an incredibly validating influx to see the lives impacted by being kind, compassionate, communicative, and most importantly, CARING about the people we serve. I leave you with my favorite quote from Apple… it started the ripple for me, and I hope keeps you moving forward.

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

Go change the world. Be the gamechanger and make the workers’ compensation industry sparkle with awesome. I love you workers’ compensation!!

Love,

Dr. Claire Muselman, Cheerleader for Workers’ Compensation

 


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