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2017 Teddy Awards: Honorable Mention

A Lesson in Leadership

Shared responsibility, data analysis and a commitment to employees are the hallmarks of Benco Dental's workers' comp program.
By: | November 1, 2017 • 4 min read

When George Rable, Benco Dental’s vice president of culture and people, was interviewing for the position of HRIS, compensation and benefits manager in 2015, he knew that Benco needed someone with a depth and breadth of compensation benefits experience combined with a people-person temperament.

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In walked Brigid Peet and the rest, as they say, is history.

“People tend to be either a data cruncher or a people person, but Brigid brought both of those traits to the table,” Rable said. “And that was really job one for me. We needed someone who could take the leadership role in our total rewards program and run with it.”

Scroll forward a few years and Rable couldn’t be happier with what the department has accomplished under Peet’s direction.

“On the compensation side, she’s done an excellent job looking at more data to make sure our compensation program is competitive in the marketplace.” Enough, he said, to earn Benco Dental an honorable mention in the 2017 Teddy Awards.

Peet has an affinity for numbers and analysis, but she also loves working in human resources and helping people. The latter is the force that drives Benco Dental’s workers’ compensation program, said Rable.

Brigid Peet, HRIS, compensation and benefits manager, Benco Dental

Peet’s team puts that in action every day as they care for the “Benco family” of more than 1,300 employees, including 400 sales reps and 300 service technicians. What’s best for the employee always comes first.

Case in point, she cites the example of a highly-valued associate who was placed on extended light duty as she was nearing retirement. The employee suffered a second injury but still was keen to return to work.

“We wanted to make sure she wasn’t coming back [just] because there were X number of months before her retirement. We were able to bridge her medical insurance until she was eligible for Medicare so that she had time to consider if it was the right time to retire rather than come back to work on limited duty.”

Benco’s modified duty program has assisted in keeping approximately 50 percent of its lost-time claims to less than $25,000 per claim from 2012 to 2017. Only 4 percent of claims under $25,000 are open, said Peet.

Taking the Company’s Measure

Peet gives much of the credit for the program’s success to people like Deb Hammaker, Benco Dental’s national risk/safety/training specialist of nearly 24 years. Peet said that Hammaker and the rest of the team have taken steps to empower Benco’s safety committee.

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Peet calls this “a cross functional committee” that ensures other committees “are constantly reviewing our processes and procedures.” Notable among these: the accident and review committee which oversees the company’s extensive van fleet.

“Whether it’s an automobile accident or a liability around a piece of equipment that has broken, we do a good post-op on all of that,” Peet said. And that doesn’t mean bring the driver down for a courtroom-style cross examination, she’s quick to add.

A key component of the questions asked are focused on ensuring a better and safer future for employees and for the company. “What can we take away from this? What can we do better next time?”

“People do not want to call a third party about their benefits. They want to be able to speak with someone here who will better advocate for their needs.” — George Rable, vice president of culture and people, Benco Dental

Another step in the right direction: a new risk management tracking system stressing broad-based accountability.

Gone are the days when someone in a general cost center at the head office takes the heat —or kudos— for the latest loss prevention numbers. Instead, each region is charged back for its workers’ compensation losses and held accountable.

“In the past, the impact of having an associate off work was felt,” said Peet, “but now it affects how they manage the purse strings, so they may have to cut back in other areas.”

Everything is measured —all costs associated with a loss, including premiums, deductibles and retained losses — and everyone is accountable. The same goes for administrative and even indirect costs.

Everyone in the Loop

“Of all the steps we take to communicate, our Workday program leaps out for me,” said Peet. This, she explains, is a program of data analytics that provides more detailed workers’ compensation analysis to managers, backed up by more predictive safety analytics that will be shared “right down to the individual associate.”

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Safety data is available in an online portal, and associates can share information, suggestions and comments, too. Also accessible is an online learning management system, including OSHA training, designed to improve safety. “And we’ll never do away with face-to-face meetings and sending sales and service reps on the road to visit Benco’s five distribution centers,” said Peet.

Of prime importance, too: that first call from staffers in need of advice about their workers’ comp claim. “We’re very high touch here,” said George Rable.

“People do not want to call a third party about their benefits. They want to be able to speak with someone here who will better advocate for their needs. And we have that in Brigid and Brigid’s team.” &

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More coverage of the 2017 Teddy Award Winners and Honorable Mentions:

Advocacy Takes Off: At Delta Air Lines, putting employees first is the right thing to do, for employees and employer alike.

 

Proactive Approach to Employee SafetyThe Valley Health System shifted its philosophy on workers’ compensation, putting employee and patient safety at the forefront.

 

Getting It Right: Better coordination of workers’ compensation risk management spelled success for the Massachusetts Port Authority.

 

Carrots: Not SticksAt Rochester Regional Health, the workers’ comp and safety team champion employee engagement and positive reinforcement.

 

Fit for Duty: Recognizing parallels between athletes and public safety officials, the city of Denver made tailored fitness training part of its safety plan.

 

Triage, Transparency and TeamworkWhen the City of Surprise, Ariz. got proactive about reining in its claims, it also took steps to get employees engaged in making things better for everyone.

A Lesson in Leadership: Shared responsibility, data analysis and a commitment to employees are the hallmarks of Benco Dental’s workers’ comp program.

 

David Godkin is a freelance magazine writer based in Toronto. He can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Cyber Resilience

No, Seriously. You Need a Comprehensive Cyber Incident Response Plan Before It’s Too Late.

Awareness of cyber risk is increasing, but some companies may be neglecting to prepare adequate response plans that could save them millions. 
By: | June 1, 2018 • 7 min read

To minimize the financial and reputational damage from a cyber attack, it is absolutely critical that businesses have a cyber incident response plan.

“Sadly, not all yet do,” said David Legassick, head of life sciences, tech and cyber, CNA Hardy.

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In the event of a breach, a company must be able to quickly identify and contain the problem, assess the level of impact, communicate internally and externally, recover where possible any lost data or functionality needed to resume business operations and act quickly to manage potential reputational risk.

This can only be achieved with help from the right external experts and the design and practice of a well-honed internal response.

The first step a company must take, said Legassick, is to understand its cyber exposures through asset identification, classification, risk assessment and protection measures, both technological and human.

According to Raf Sanchez, international breach response manager, Beazley, cyber-response plans should be flexible and applicable to a wide range of incidents, “not just a list of consecutive steps.”

They also should bring together key stakeholders and specify end goals.

Jason J. Hogg, CEO, Aon Cyber Solutions

With bad actors becoming increasingly sophisticated and often acting in groups, attack vectors can hit companies from multiple angles simultaneously, meaning a holistic approach is essential, agreed Jason J. Hogg, CEO, Aon Cyber Solutions.

“Collaboration is key — you have to take silos down and work in a cross-functional manner.”

This means assembling a response team including individuals from IT, legal, operations, risk management, HR, finance and the board — each of whom must be well drilled in their responsibilities in the event of a breach.

“You can’t pick your players on the day of the game,” said Hogg. “Response times are critical, so speed and timing are of the essence. You should also have a very clear communication plan to keep the CEO and board of directors informed of recommended courses of action and timing expectations.”

People on the incident response team must have sufficient technical skills and access to critical third parties to be able to make decisions and move to contain incidents fast. Knowledge of the company’s data and network topology is also key, said Legassick.

“Perhaps most important of all,” he added, “is to capture in detail how, when, where and why an incident occurred so there is a feedback loop that ensures each threat makes the cyber defense stronger.”

Cyber insurance can play a key role by providing a range of experts such as forensic analysts to help manage a cyber breach quickly and effectively (as well as PR and legal help). However, the learning process should begin before a breach occurs.

Practice Makes Perfect

“Any incident response plan is only as strong as the practice that goes into it,” explained Mike Peters, vice president, IT, RIMS — who also conducts stress testing through his firm Sentinel Cyber Defense Advisors.

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Unless companies have an ethical hacker or certified information security officer on board who can conduct sophisticated simulated attacks, Peters recommended they hire third-party experts to test their networks for weaknesses, remediate these issues and retest again for vulnerabilities that haven’t been patched or have newly appeared.

“You need to plan for every type of threat that’s out there,” he added.

Hogg agreed that bringing third parties in to conduct tests brings “fresh thinking, best practice and cross-pollination of learnings from testing plans across a multitude of industries and enterprises.”

“Collaboration is key — you have to take silos down and work in a cross-functional manner.” — Jason J. Hogg, CEO, Aon Cyber Solutions

Legassick added that companies should test their plans at least annually, updating procedures whenever there is a significant change in business activity, technology or location.

“As companies expand, cyber security is not always front of mind, but new operations and territories all expose a company to new risks.”

For smaller companies that might not have the resources or the expertise to develop an internal cyber response plan from whole cloth, some carriers offer their own cyber risk resources online.

Evan Fenaroli, an underwriting product manager with the Philadelphia Insurance Companies (PHLY), said his company hosts an eRiskHub, which gives PHLY clients a place to start looking for cyber event response answers.

That includes access to a pool of attorneys who can guide company executives in creating a plan.

“It’s something at the highest level that needs to be a priority,” Fenaroli said. For those just getting started, Fenaroli provided a checklist for consideration:

  • Purchase cyber insurance, read the policy and understand its notice requirements.
  • Work with an attorney to develop a cyber event response plan that you can customize to your business.
  • Identify stakeholders within the company who will own the plan and its execution.
  • Find outside forensics experts that the company can call in an emergency.
  • Identify a public relations expert who can be called in the case of an event that could be leaked to the press or otherwise become newsworthy.

“When all of these things fall into place, the outcome is far better in that there isn’t a panic,” said Fenaroli, who, like others, recommends the plan be tested at least annually.

Cyber’s Physical Threat

With the digital and physical worlds converging due to the rise of the Internet of Things, Hogg reminded companies: “You can’t just test in the virtual world — testing physical end-point security is critical too.”

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How that testing is communicated to underwriters should also be a key focus, said Rich DePiero, head of cyber, North America, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.

Don’t just report on what went well; it’s far more believable for an underwriter to hear what didn’t go well, he said.

“If I hear a client say it is perfect and then I look at some of the results of the responses to breaches last year, there is a disconnect. Help us understand what you learned and what you worked out. You want things to fail during these incident response tests, because that is how we learn,” he explained.

“Bringing in these outside firms, detailing what they learned and defining roles and responsibilities in the event of an incident is really the best practice, and we are seeing more and more companies do that.”

Support from the Board

Good cyber protection is built around a combination of process, technology, learning and people. While not every cyber incident needs to be reported to the boardroom, senior management has a key role in creating a culture of planning and risk awareness.

David Legassick, head of life sciences, tech and cyber, CNA Hardy

“Cyber is a boardroom risk. If it is not taken seriously at boardroom level, you are more than likely to suffer a network breach,” Legassick said.

However, getting board buy-in or buy-in from the C-suite is not always easy.

“C-suite executives often put off testing crisis plans as they get in the way of the day job. The irony here is obvious given how disruptive an incident can be,” said Sanchez.

“The C-suite must demonstrate its support for incident response planning and that it expects staff at all levels of the organization to play their part in recovering from serious incidents.”

“What these people need from the board is support,” said Jill Salmon, New York-based vice president, head of cyber/tech/MPL, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance.

“I don’t know that the information security folks are looking for direction from the board as much as they are looking for support from a resources standpoint and a visibility standpoint.

“They’ve got to be aware of what they need and they need to have the money to be able to build it up to that level,” she said.

Without that support, according to Legassick, failure to empower and encourage the IT team to manage cyber threats holistically through integration with the rest of the organization, particularly risk managers, becomes a common mistake.

He also warned that “blame culture” can prevent staff from escalating problems to management in a timely manner.

Collaboration and Communication

Given that cyber incident response truly is a team effort, it is therefore essential that a culture of collaboration, preparation and practice is embedded from the top down.

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One of the biggest tripping points for companies — and an area that has done the most damage from a reputational perspective — is in how quickly and effectively the company communicates to the public in the aftermath of a cyber event.

Salmon said of all the cyber incident response plans she has seen, the companies that have impressed her most are those that have written mock press releases and rehearsed how they are going to respond to the media in the aftermath of an event.

“We have seen so many companies trip up in that regard,” she said. “There have been examples of companies taking too long and then not explaining why it took them so long. It’s like any other crisis — the way that you are communicating it to the public is really important.” &

Antony Ireland is a London-based financial journalist. He can be reached at [email protected] Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]