Risk Insider: Jack Hampton

A Risk Perspective on College Students

By: | October 3, 2017 • 3 min read
John (Jack) Hampton is a Professor of Business at St. Peter’s University, a core faculty member at the International School of Management (Paris), and a Risk Insider at Risk and Insurance magazine where he was named a 2018 All Star. He was Executive Director of the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS), dean of the schools of business at Seton Hall and Connecticut State universities, and provost of the College of Insurance and SUNY Maritime College in New York City.

Did you ever wish you could be a salesperson at the Tiffany flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan? Somebody, nicely dressed, walks through the door and your heart beats faster. This is a customer and you know what to do. Sell expensive bling and your job is done. Smiles all around.

The situation is far more complex for the newly-minted college professor. After years of dull, plodding preparation, you drag your doctoral degree through extensive interviews and finally obtain a position at a college or university.

You kind of know what you must do. Your days will be spent in the classroom or advising students at the desk in your drab, tiny office. Your nights and weekends will be spent writing articles because publishing research is mandatory if you want long-term academic employment. The daily routine will occasionally be interrupted by committee meetings with no apparent goal or purpose.

A professor is a highly-trained professional, not unlike a medical doctor. There is a difference. Doctors, like the salespeople at Tiffany’s, know what they’re supposed to do. They treat patients, heal disease, and repair physical damage. Salespeople describe features of jewelry, promote glamour, and sell status to customers. Professors have no such clarity.

The college is creating something of value that will later be provided to satisfy the wants and needs of society and employers. The product is an educated person with writing, math, and problem-solving skills verified by a college degree.

In a time of turbulence in the role of higher education, the situation poses serious risks for professors and their institutions.

Collectively, the faculty and staff need to resolve a basic dilemma. Is a college student a patient, customer, or something else?

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The answer is simple from a risk management perspective.

The student plays a dual role in academic institutions. He or she is a customer — the recipient of a service provided in a financial transaction. The service is learning leading to a diploma. The financial transaction is tuition.

The student is also a product. The college is creating something of value that will later be provided to satisfy the wants and needs of society and employers. The product is an educated person with writing, math, and problem-solving skills verified by a college degree.

The college only succeeds if it initially treats students as customers and then converts them into products. Tiffany’s brings you into the store with excitement and expectations. Its jewelry shines brightly as it leaves the store to fulfill the promise.

The current crisis in higher education is likely to force the closure of many schools. This is a challenge for college professors. Instead of discussing the parking problem on campus, perhaps they should promote a balanced perspective of their role with students. Everyone’s job is to serve the student as customer until he or she is polished up to a high gloss.

Released as a product at graduation, the student helps the institution achieve its Tiffany-like stature with one exception. Selling jewelry rarely changes the world. Medical doctors and professors often do. They need to get it right.

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]