Risk Insider: Jean Nkamdon

Lessons From The Trenches: Lesson #1

By: | June 21, 2017 • 2 min read
Jean Nkamdon is the Risk Management and Compliance Manager at The Washington Post & Companies, which publishes the Washington Post. Nkamdon, a CPA, CFE and a RIMS-CRMP, has both domestic and international cross industries audit, attest, and risk consulting advisory experience. He can be reached at [email protected]

In my years in risk management I couldn’t help but identify three constant lessons that keep popping up for me — and every time I ignored one of them I paid for it.

The first lesson? Know the odds.

In everything know the odds, the Gods say!!!  In my years traveling as a consultant I often spent a lot of time at the airport. Every time I saw a plane land or take off I couldn’t help but wonder how everything had to go just right in order to make that happen.

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Nowadays frequent travelers probably never give so much of a thought to this technological wonder. Passengers, more often than not, are mostly concerned about pretzels, blankets and ever-shrinking legroom.

But I have noticed that pilots, on the other hand, never take any flight for granted. Their caution might seem counterintuitive, because statistically flying has proven to be a rather safe means of transport — safer certainly than train or automobile travel.

Even so, every passenger with an ounce of natural curiosity has listened intently as their flight crew performs its a rigorous pre-flight/post flight checklists. I’ve also observed pilots performing a visual inspection of their aircraft, regardless of the type of airplane or the airport size.

I’d venture to say that the record of safety of air travel hinges upon this meticulous approach to making sure that all the “t’s” are crossed and all the “i’s” are dotted. Plane crashes may be rather rare with the sophistication of technology today. But maybe that’s because pilots and the rest of the crew understand that even one crash is one too many.

For risk practitioners, it would be beneficial to spend the time truly understanding the risks facing their organizations, whether these risks are internal or external. This might mean engaging with management to understand the strategic objectives of the organization. It might mean engaging internal constituents to understand what keeps them up at night.

Plane crashes may be rather rare with the sophistication of technology today. But maybe that’s because pilots and the rest of the crew understand that even one crash is one too many.

Ultimately, it will mean working with external parties such as brokers and insurers to help them see your organizations’ risks from through a shared lens. Only when they have the full picture of the risks facing your organization can risk transfer — if there is a case for it — be tailored to provide the kind of coverage that the organization truly needs.

While understanding the odds does not in itself eliminate risks, it is crucial to the crafting of the appropriate response to any risk that would be onerous for the organization to bear.

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This approach, for instance, would help those in charge of risk weigh the facts of their organization’s risk profile on one hand, against its risk appetite in the accomplishment of strategic objectives.

The upside to understanding the odds is that it helps those in charge of risk management in fully grasping the real exposures facing the organization, in understanding from the markets the coverage available or that could be available, and in developing an effective risk transfer partnership and ultimately establishing credibility with the markets.

I’ll cover lesson #2 and #3 in future Risk Insider articles — stay tuned.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

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That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

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Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]