Nobody likes workers’ compensation. If we’re honest, everyone hates it. As a business owner, it can be tempting to hang up the mandatory information poster in a break area and never mention workers’ comp until an employee needs it. While it may be tempting to keep employees in the dark by not fully explaining their rights, this approach can backfire in the long run.
It may seem that if employees knew all the details of their coverage, they would constantly be claiming injury and collecting a paycheck while they relax at home. While fraudulent claims are a problem for many businesses, you may be burning bridges with your employees. Here are a few ways that you can make your employees active partners in the workers’ compensation program to reduce fraudulent claims, improve the bottom line and ensure that employees have a reason to come back to work.
More often than not, being forthcoming about workers’ comp coverage will generate more goodwill than false claims. Withholding that information can create feelings of distrust and resentment among employees, especially if an employee is injured and only hears later that the injury should be covered. A 1995 study by Intracorp found that injured employees who did not receive training were more likely to hire an attorney and were out of work for longer than employees with prior workers’ comp training.
Rather than putting up the poster in a dark corner of the office, consider making workers’ comp part of employee orientation. It is important for them to know that while it is government mandated (generally), workers’ comp is funded directly by employers, not the government. Let them know that costs can have a direct impact on the other benefits you are able to offer. Set up easy procedures for reporting an injury, asking them to immediately report an injury.
While this may seem counterintuitive, since you want to reduce the incidence of claims, it is an important step in creating a safe workplace. By opening a dialogue with employees you can immediately address safety concerns and reduce the number of injuries long-term. Additionally, encouraging the use of workers’ compensation coverage can help shield you from legal action.
Offer a Wellness Program
Offering a wellness program or gym membership discount is a great way to help lower health insurance costs, but it can also help you reduce your workers’ compensation costs. Research has shown that healthier employees are cheaper employees, with employers seeing an average 30 percent reduction in workers’ compensation and disability claims costs. While it’s not directly involved in engaging your employees with workers’ compensation, this can create significant savings for your business.
Create a Return-to-Work Program
Besides lower costs, there are a number of advantages to returning an injured employee to work as soon as they are medically able. Having a return-to-work or light-duty program will reduce your production downtime, raise morale and can help reduce fraud. It also allows the employee to stay in their position without an interruption of salary or benefits. Make sure that employees understand that you are willing to help them with their injury and in getting them back to work. Remaining an engaged partner with their injury will help you bring your employee back quicker and create goodwill with the employee and the rest of your staff.
Mike Cushing is a freelance writer for Work Comp Specialists, the largest agency in the state dedicated to Florida workers compensation insurance and Florida business insurance.