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Derailing Productivity: Insights for Workers Compensation Claims Adjusters

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By Dr. Claire Muselman and Nate Ferguson

Productivity is paramount in the demanding world of workers' compensation claims adjusting. The adjusting desk is responsible for imperative components impacting the lives of injured human beings in a vulnerable space. Working with people who have a medical impact on the body's function and a disruption to their financial status can bring heavy emotion in addition to the duties of the job themselves.

Many claims adjusters are frustrated with their perceived lack of accomplishment at the end of each workday. Lack of achievement is not only true for claims adjusters but also for professionals in a variety of industries. Studies reveal that only 26% of individuals consistently complete their intended tasks. To bridge this gap, it is essential to identify and address the mental mistakes that impede productivity. This article explores five common errors that hinder effectiveness and provides actionable solutions for workers' compensation claims adjusters to enhance their daily execution to feel more accomplished and get things done! Self-awareness and self-regulation are what can ultimately drive increased performance.

Overestimating Available Focused Time

Workers' compensation claims adjusters often engage in intricate projects and critical problem-solving tasks that require concentrated attention. Completing investigations for compensability, analyzing medical records, adhering to specific jurisdictional compliance, and communicating in a consumable manner with multiple people involved are the tip of the iceberg. The impact of this position can be felt not only by the injured human involved but also by the ripple effect extending into their family life and organizational dynamic from their work structure. However, the reality of a typical workday can be far from ideal, with meetings, emails, and other interruptions consuming a substantial portion of available time. Research from the time-tracking app RescueTime suggests that individuals may have as little as one hour and 12 minutes of uninterrupted time per day. Recognizing this limitation is crucial in prioritizing tasks effectively, especially with a detrimental impact on others involved.

To maximize focused work claims adjusters should identify their top priorities and protect dedicated time slots for these essential projects. These tasks could include following through on commitments to injured workers, such as check-in calls and issuing payments. Even within limited availability, allocating 60 to 90 minutes for higher-level tasks can yield significant results. Additionally, recognizing that complex projects often involve administrative duties allows for the efficient use of shorter time intervals between meetings or during anticipated interruptions, such as collecting and ordering medical records for reviews.

Overlooking Simple, Proven Methods

Many worker's compensation claims adjusters are familiar with productivity concepts rooted in cognitive-behavioral psychology. Despite having encountered these strategies, individuals often dismiss their effectiveness or fail to implement them fully. Fundamental principles, such as setting implementation intentions and minimizing decision fatigue, are often disregarded as mundane or old news or fall on deaf ears if leadership has not bought in or followed through with ongoing training and education surrounding these concepts.

To overcome this mental mistake, claims adjusters should apply these proven strategies systematically. Defining the next actionable step and ensuring all necessary resources are readily available removes practical barriers to starting a task, keeping strategic plans up to date with actionable times needing to be taken and followed through to progress to the next step along the claims journey. By embracing simple, practical methods and creatively applying them, claims adjusters can optimize productivity without overcomplicating their approach.

Adopting an All-or-Nothing Approach to Change

Individuals often face psychological resistance to change when contemplating habits that could enhance productivity. Rather than fixating on daunting adjustments, focusing on minor, manageable alterations is more productive. For instance, automating house lights or planning the following workday's agenda in the last 30 minutes can gradually shift bedtime routines and improve overall productivity. Taking the first portion of the day to call the injured workers you are looking for updates from or updating employers with the status of what has transpired to keep lines of communication open can assist in the doing what you say you will do mentality so needed in the workers' compensation space. Ensuring timely payment release is also imperative to stay within the wayside.

By recognizing that change does not have to be all-encompassing, workers' compensation claims adjusters can make incremental adjustments that contribute to their productivity. Celebrating small victories fosters a positive mindset and paves the way for further improvements. Leadership can be a helpful component in affirming these positive changes.

Forgetting Recurrent but Infrequent Tasks

Efficient processes often accompany regular tasks, while infrequent duties may lead to wasted time searching for instructions. Claims adjusters can avoid this pitfall by creating personalized guides for recurring but sporadic tasks. Documenting step-by-step instructions and saving them in easily accessible locations ensures efficient completion when needed in the future.

Eliminating the need for repetitive searches enhances productivity, streamlines processes, and minimizes frustration, allowing claims adjusters to dedicate their energy to more significant responsibilities. Leaders can help build resources with easy access to assist their claims adjusters in having readily available access for these types of tasks, housing on an intranet or a OneNote for searchability function.

Underestimating the Impact of Small Time/Energy Leaks

Consistently investing small amounts of time and energy into significant, non-urgent projects can yield substantial improvements. Conversely, seemingly little time leaks, such as searching for misplaced items or attending to unnecessary emails, accumulate to disrupt workflow, drain energy, and hamper productivity. By implementing effective systems, such as reducing decision-making, streamlining tasks, and utilizing checklists, claims adjusters can mitigate these leaks, ultimately enhancing mental clarity benefits beyond mere time savings.

While templates can be thought of negatively, having a structure for communication methods, such as communicating to an injured worker via email regarding check release for the specific period, amount, and when they will receive it at their home or to their bank account, can be formatted for ease of use. Receiving a phone call due to a missed payment can derail a significant amount of time and energy. Replicating this process can enhance communication, increase trust, and show effective self-accountability from the adjusting side. Proactive methods of accountability can assist in this process.

No single solution can solve all productivity challenges; however, being aware of these mental mistakes and implementing the suggested strategies can significantly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of workers' compensation claims adjusters. By maximizing focused time, embracing proven methods, adopting a flexible approach to change, streamlining recurrent tasks, and addressing short-time and energy leaks, claims adjusters can regain control over their productivity and achieve tremendous success in their roles.

In a field where efficiency and accuracy are paramount, overcoming mental obstacles and optimizing productivity are valuable assets for workers' compensation claims adjusters. By implementing these insights, claims adjusters can position themselves for success, accomplish their goals, and excel in their careers.

Dr. Claire Muselman is a workers' compensation thought leader and professor at Drake University, focused on driving meaningful outcomes for claims professionals and injured workers everywhere.

Nate Ferguson is a student at Drake University majoring in Business Administration & Management, graduating this Spring and continuing his education, pursuing his MBA.

Work Referenced:

Boyes, A. (2019). Five Mental Mistakes that Kill Your Productivity. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2019/11/5-mental-mistakes-that-kill-your-productivity?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=hbr&utm_source=LinkedIn&tpcc=orgsocial_edit

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