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One Call Industry Survey Finds These are the Top Two Challenges Workers’ Compensation Firms are Facing as we Head into 2023
Talent shortages and a need for new technologies remain top concerns for workers’ compensation professionals.
Over the past few years, workers’ comp has faced a number of challenges. From managing work-related COVID-19 health risks to dealing with the struggles of today’s economic and employment markets, there are always new issues facing the industry.
To better understand some of the struggles workers’ comp pros are facing today, One Call conducted a survey of more than 50 industry professionals during this year’s National Comp conference.
“We’re investing quite a bit of time trying to understand the correlation between what we’re doing internally and how that’s recognized by the industry,” said Jay Krueger, CEO of One Call.
Survey participants ranked two challenges as being top-of-mind for their companies: talent recruitment and retention and adopting technologies.
Though neither challenge is unfamiliar to the industry, both the struggle for talent and efforts to utilize digital systems have evolved in recent years. Since 2021, workers’ compensation has struggled with both the commercial insurance talent shortage and the effects of the Great Resignation.
Then, there’s both long-standing and fresh technology hurdles to overcome. Digital communication systems are helping keep injured workers engaged and are simplifying the process of scheduling appointments. But worker’s comp companies need to utilize these resources if they want to succeed, which many are still slow to do.
“We want to share what we’ve learned so that we can all benefit,” said Tina Brletich, BSN, RN, MBA, SVP of client analytics with One Call. “By really listening, we’re able to better serve our clients and therefore better serve injured workers.”
Recruiting and Retaining Employees: Embracing Connection in a Virtual World
Like many industries, those in the workers’ compensation sector are worried about the Great Resignation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 47 million Americans quit their jobs last year, and issues like rising inflation may continue to encourage other workers to jump ship and seek out more competitive opportunities.
With such an intense labor market, attracting and retaining talent is paramount to success.
One way workers’ comp firms can help bring employees into the fold is through emphasizing their missions and increasing employee engagement. This is especially true when it comes to attracting and retaining younger workers — a critical demographic for all areas of the industry.
Millennial and Generation Z workers are some of the highest flight risks — 24% and 40% respectively said they want to leave their jobs within two years, a 2022 Deloitte survey found.
Young workers are more likely than older workers to be looking for a sense of purpose in their work. Per Deloitte’s survey, 26% of millennials and 21% of Gen Zers chose their current jobs because they found purpose in the position. For workers’ comp, a new generation of values-driven employees could be a boon. Afterall, what greater purpose is there than helping someone heal after an accident?
“At its core, One Call is getting people the care they need when they need it,” Krueger said. “We try to keep our mission front and center for everybody.”
Increasing opportunities for connection — even virtually — is another way workers’ compensation businesses can inspire loyalty amongst their workforces. One Call uses an internal internet site called Connect to help remote employees stay in touch with one another and build relationships.
As for in-person events, the company has held 15 Connection Collectives across the country, events that allow workers to gather and socialize with one another. These events feature music, food, games, and opportunities for people to chat with coworkers they may not have seen since before the pandemic.
“Our Connection Collectives have allowed folks to feel much more connected with the leadership team and with each other, now that we’re all working remotely,” Krueger said. “It’s been heartwarming to see people who used to sit side-by-side in the office — who’ve known each other’s kids and spouses and partners for years — come together and bond after so much time.”
Efforts to attract and retain employees based on a company’s mission or engagement opportunities will fail if businesses aren’t first tending to their employees’ needs, however.
“It’s really important that we’re listening to our clients and employees,” Brletich said. “We’re getting feedback from them on a routine basis, and we are being more proactive in the ways we support them.”
In a Pew Research Center survey of workers who left a job in 2021, many named work-life balance issues — like trouble juggling childcare or a lack of flexibility — as a contributor when asked what reasons led them to their decision to quit. Forty-five percent of those surveyed said a lack of adjustable hours played a role and 48% listed childcare as an issue.
One Call implemented a flexible remote-work policy in response to feedback from staff. All told, these efforts have resulted in a 45% increased retention year-over-year for the company.
New Technologies Drive Engagement and Efficiency
Still, there’s a shortage of workers’ comp professionals. Digital tools may be able to step in and increase productivity, but first, the industry needs to adopt these resources.
Workers’ compensation has long lagged behind the health care sector when it comes to adopting technologies that can help foster patient connections and promote productivity for claims adjusters and case managers. One Call is working to change that.
The company has found that when used correctly, technology can keep injured workers connected to the claims process and increase efficiency by reducing the number of hours claims professionals spend on the phone.
Investments in text messaging services, for example, can help remind injured workers of medical appointments, update them on the status of their claim, and help them remain connected throughout the process. One Call sends close to three million texts each year to its workers’ comp patients.
“We’re two and a half times more likely to connect with somebody via text than we are via phone. If we’re able to connect with somebody quickly, it allows them to get access to the care they need much earlier,” Krueger said. “And earlier intervention leads to quicker, better health outcomes.”
Since injured workers tend to prefer virtual communications about their claims, One Call is also working with providers to implement online scheduling platforms. These services can help create efficiency for providers — who may need to work with case managers, claims adjusters, and the injured workers themselves to get appointments on the calendar.
“Similar to a lot of our organizations, providers are very constrained from a people standpoint. The whole notion of dealing with phone calls is very disruptive,” Krueger said.
Digital medical management services enable doctors and providers to share medical reports quickly with claims adjusters and case managers, which helps the injured worker recover.
“We’re trying to drive higher levels of engagement among injured workers,” Krueger said. “It yields much better outcomes, and that should be the goal of any workers’ comp organization.”
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This article first appeared in Risk & Insurance.