2014 Teddy Awards

Roosevelt’s Vision in Action

The 2014 Teddy Award winners represent principles that are the hallmarks of sustainably successful injury prevention and workers’ comp programs.   
By: | November 3, 2014 • 7 min read

In January 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt addressed Congress to explain why a system of workers’ compensation was a national imperative.

“Under the present law an injured workman … has no remedy, and the entire burden of the accident falls on the helpless man, his wife, and his young children,” wrote Roosevelt.

“This is an outrage. It is a matter of humiliation to the Nation that there should not be on our statute books provision to meet and partially to atone for cruel misfortune when it comes upon a man through no fault of his own … .”

Clearly, though, Roosevelt thought that preventing those “cruel misfortunes” from happening was too much to hope for. Workers’ compensation, he said, places “upon the employer the burden of accident insurance against injuries which are sure to occur.”

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Fast forward a century or so, and Roosevelt himself would be amazed by what workers’ comp and risk management professionals are accomplishing on a daily basis. Workplace injuries and fatalities are no longer thought of as an unavoidable cost of doing business, and the injury-free workplace is the Holy Grail that employers strive to achieve. Some are even managing it, too. Teddy would be gobsmacked.

Employers large and small, across the spectrum of industries, are thinking creatively, maximizing their resources, and otherwise moving mountains to preserve the safety and well-being of their employees while simultaneously looking out for their organizations’ bottom lines. Dedicated workers’ comp and health and safety teams are constantly raising the bar on what it means to achieve excellence.

Part of what drives that progress is the continual sharing of ideas and strategies that work. In conferences and networking events, in books and magazines and online, workers’ comp professionals are learning from their peers, and finding success by adapting strategies to their own workplaces. At its core, that is what the Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Awards are all about.

Employers large and small, across the spectrum of industries, are thinking creatively and maximizing their resources to preserve the safety and well-being of their employees while simultaneously looking out for their organizations’ bottom lines.

There are multitudes of impressive programs out there. It’s not easy to decide which ones to introduce to readers as Teddy Award winners. To help with the task, we enlisted the help of a panel of experts with decades of experience.

This year’s panel included Bryan Schwartz, corporate risk manager of American Infrastructure, a 2013 Teddy Award winner; Bruce Jones, director of insurance and Texas plan administrator at Community Health Systems Inc., a 2012 Teddy Award winner; 2014 Risk All Star Patricia Hostine, U.S. director of disability management at Flex-N-Gate; Mark Noonan, managing principal at Integro Insurance Brokers; and Roberto Ceniceros, senior editor of Risk & Insurance® and co-chair of the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo.

Judges reviewed applications independently, and then gathered via conference call to share their thoughts and opinions. Each finalist was then rated numerically in five separate categories to determine the winners of the Teddy Awards, which are sponsored by Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc.

The Elements of a Winner

Any analysis of Teddy Award contenders probably starts with the numbers. Injury frequency, lost time, and medical and indemnity cost data is carefully evaluated with an eye toward year-over-year improvement in performance. Judges factor in fluctuations in staffing levels and other factors that may have influenced outcomes.

Program longevity is also taken into consideration when looking at the numbers. A newly minted program may put up eye-popping performance numbers in its early years. However, a program that’s been in place for a decade or more that shows modest, steady gains may be equally impressive.

Hazard levels and complexity are considered as well — a window manufacturing plant faces a vastly different set of exposures than a housewares retailer.

JudgesSidebar.inddBut the numbers never tell the whole story. Judges evaluated the finalists through the lens of their own experience, with an eye toward what makes for a program that is not only successful today, but has the tools in place to remain successful for the long haul.

Flexible, sustainable programs have the infrastructure in place that can adapt if the company grows, shrinks, merges with another company, launches new product lines or even alters its business model.

Compass Group North America, for instance, has seen a remarkable 31 percent increase in staffing levels in the past five years. And yet because of the programs and infrastructure they’ve put in place, they have managed a 30 percent decrease in medical-only claims in the past two years as well as a drop in lost-time claims.

Teddy Award winners distinguish themselves by applying a holistic approach to risk that addresses the entire pre-injury through post-injury spectrum. Their programs contain elements addressing safety culture, injury prevention, training and wellness strategies while also finding ways to manage medical costs, ensure the best recovery outcomes, minimize lost time, and get injured associates back to work swiftly and safely. These programs have an impressive number of moving parts, each one evaluated and measured on a regular basis in order to ensure that there is continued forward motion at every level.

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These programs are typically designed to start reducing risks from the earliest possible point. Honda of South Carolina, for example, starts by eliminating exposures before they can ever occur. They maintain a proven process that helps engineer out hazards for each product long before a single factory worker touches it.

Harley-Davidson, meanwhile, uses a medical screening process along with a post-offer employment test to ensure that every worker can safely perform the specific physical tasks of the position before they’re officially hired.

Teddy Award winners also exemplify the “it takes a village” paradigm in their approach to collaboration, and have painstakingly forged teams — either internally or including third parties — with the risk expertise and skills to make their programs successful.

Top organizations such as Harley-Davidson have had to work through the challenges of replacing multiple vendors and hand-selecting the TPA staff to find just the right mix capable of meeting the company’s high standards. Weekly conference calls help ensure that all stakeholders maintain open lines of communications and share goals.

Focus on the Positive

Lost time is the enemy of both employers and injured workers. The longer an injured person remains out of work, the less likely it is that he or she will ever be able to return. Lost time is a huge obstacle to recovery and can contribute to comorbid conditions such as obesity. In the meantime, employers are short a valuable team member, while paying disability costs on top of labor replacement costs. That’s why the effectiveness of return-to-work programs is closely examined.

Not all return-to-work programs are created equally. Putting a recovering employee in a stockroom to count paper clips, does not benefit the employer or the employee.

Effective return-to-work programs require the right mind-set. It is not enough to rely on a doctor’s restrictions stating what the person can’t do. Instead, employers must look at what an injured worker can do independently or with some type of accommodation. That opens up the field to creative thinking and helps employers find productive work that benefits the organization while keeping injured employees engaged, active, and motivated to heal.

At Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, an employee confined to a wheelchair after spinal fusion surgery was enlisted to perform meaningful work helping to care for residents and accomplish other essential tasks.

At Harley-Davidson, an employee was casted and unable to drive or walk. The company didn’t merely locate a job her capabilities would allow, it provided transportation to get her to and from work and a wheeled scooter so she could navigate the facility.

Compass Group modified an operation to accommodate an employee without the use of one hand. It also allowed her to job-shadow other employees in order to broaden the possibilities for tasks she could perform one-handed.

Sprinkled among the application narratives was something else Teddy Roosevelt would have been heartened to see. Successful employers are building health, safety and workers’ comp programs with a genuine goal of caring for their people. Honda of South Carolina wrote earnestly that the “I Care” attitude shown to its associates is the underlying core that drives its health and safety and workers’ comp programs.

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Writing of its approach to return-to-work, Cold Spring Hills noted that its policy not only minimizes the exposure of claims but also ensured that “the employee felt loved and cared for by her employer!”

This clear level of caring was not lost on this year’s judges. If you focus on what’s best for employees, judges said during their conference call, the cost savings will follow.

If that is the trend that guides the next century of workers’ comp professionals, Roosevelt’s legacy will be far greater than he ever dared to dream.

_______________________________________________________

Read more about all of the 2014 Teddy Award winners:

11012014_02_cs_honda_150x150Building Value with Trust: Honda of South Carolina boosted its involvement with injured worker cases, making a positive first impression on employees and health care providers.

 

11012014_03_cs_harley_150x150The TLC Behind the Roar: A proactive and holistic approach to employees’ well-being has resulted in huge reductions in work-related injury claims for Harley-Davidson.

 

11012014_04_cs_compass150x150Quick to Act: Compass Group is lauded for its safety initiatives and for a return-to-work program that incorporates all of its business lines.

 

 

11012014_05_cs_coldspring_150x150Healing the Healers: Teddy Award winner Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation proved that even small organizations can make a huge difference in their employees’ lives.

 

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

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Exclusive | Hank Greenberg on China Trade, Starr’s Rapid Growth and 100th, Spitzer, Schneiderman and More

In a robust and frank conversation, the insurance legend provides unique insights into global trade, his past battles and what the future holds for the industry and his company.
By: | October 12, 2018 • 12 min read

In 1960, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg was hired as a vice president of C.V. Starr & Co. At age 35, he had already accomplished a great deal.

He served his country as part of the Allied Forces that stormed the beaches at Normandy and liberated the Nazi death camps. He fought again during the Korean War, earning a Bronze Star. He held a law degree from New York Law School.

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Now he was ready to make his mark on the business world.

Even C.V. Starr himself — who hired Mr. Greenberg and later hand-picked him as the successor to the company he founded in Shanghai in 1919 — could not have imagined what a mark it would be.

Mr. Greenberg began to build AIG as a Starr subsidiary, then in 1969, he took it public. The company would, at its peak, achieve a market cap of some $180 billion and cement its place as the largest insurance and financial services company in history.

This month, Mr. Greenberg travels to China to celebrate the 100th anniversary of C.V. Starr & Co. That visit occurs at a prickly time in U.S.-Sino relations, as the Trump administration levies tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese goods and China retaliates.

In September, Risk & Insurance® sat down with Mr. Greenberg in his Park Avenue office to hear his thoughts on the centennial of C.V. Starr, the dynamics of U.S. trade relationships with China and the future of the U.S. insurance industry as it faces the challenges of technology development and talent recruitment and retention, among many others. What follows is an edited transcript of that discussion.


R&I: One hundred years is quite an impressive milestone for any company. Celebrating the anniversary in China signifies the importance and longevity of that relationship. Can you tell us more about C.V. Starr’s history with China?

Hank Greenberg: We have a long history in China. I first went there in 1975. There was little there, but I had business throughout Asia, and I stopped there all the time. I’d stop there a couple of times a year and build relationships.

When I first started visiting China, there was only one state-owned insurance company there, PICC (the People’s Insurance Company of China); it was tiny at the time. We helped them to grow.

I also received the first foreign life insurance license in China, for AIA (The American International Assurance Co.). To date, there has been no other foreign life insurance company in China. It took me 20 years of hard work to get that license.

We also introduced an agency system in China. They had none. Their life company employees would get a salary whether they sold something or not. With the agency system of course you get paid a commission if you sell something. Once that agency system was installed, it went on to create more than a million jobs.

R&I: So Starr’s success has meant success for the Chinese insurance industry as well.

Hank Greenberg: That’s partly why we’re going to be celebrating that anniversary there next month. That celebration will occur alongside that of IBLAC (International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council), an international business advisory group that was put together when Zhu Rongji was the mayor of Shanghai [Zhu is since retired from public life]. He asked me to start that to attract foreign companies to invest in Shanghai.

“It turns out that it is harder [for China] to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

Shanghai and China in general were just coming out of the doldrums then; there was a lack of foreign investment. Zhu asked me to chair IBLAC and to help get it started, which I did. I served as chairman of that group for a couple of terms. I am still a part of that board, and it will be celebrating its 30th anniversary along with our 100th anniversary.

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We have a good relationship with China, and we’re candid as you can tell from the op-ed I published in the Wall Street Journal. I’m told that my op-ed was received quite well in China, by both Chinese companies and foreign companies doing business there.

On August 29, Mr. Greenberg published an opinion piece in the WSJ reminding Chinese leaders of the productive history of U.S.-Sino relations and suggesting that Chinese leaders take pragmatic steps to ease trade tensions with the U.S.

R&I: What’s your outlook on current trade relations between the U.S. and China?

Hank Greenberg: As to the current environment, when you are in negotiations, every leader negotiates differently.

President Trump is negotiating based on his well-known approach. What’s different now is that President Xi (Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China) made himself the emperor. All the past presidents in China before the revolution had two terms. He’s there for life, which makes things much more difficult.

R&I: Sure does. You’ve got a one- or two-term president talking to somebody who can wait it out. It’s definitely unique.

Hank Greenberg: So, clearly a lot of change is going on in China. Some of it is good. But as I said in the op-ed, China needs to be treated like the second largest economy in the world, which it is. And it will be the number one economy in the world in not too many years. That means that you can’t use the same terms of trade that you did 25 or 30 years ago.

They want to have access to our market and other markets. Fine, but you have to have reciprocity, and they have not been very good at that.

R&I: What stands in the way of that happening?

Hank Greenberg: I think there are several substantial challenges. One, their structure makes it very difficult. They have a senior official, a regulator, who runs a division within the government for insurance. He keeps that job as long as he does what leadership wants him to do. He may not be sure what they want him to do.

For example, the president made a speech many months ago saying they are going to open up banking, insurance and a couple of additional sectors to foreign investment; nothing happened.

The reason was that the head of that division got changed. A new administrator came in who was not sure what the president wanted so he did nothing. Time went on and the international community said, “Wait a minute, you promised that you were going to do that and you didn’t do that.”

So the structure is such that it is very difficult. China can’t react as fast as it should. That will change, but it is going to take time.

R&I: That’s interesting, because during the financial crisis in 2008 there was talk that China, given their more centralized authority, could react more quickly, not less quickly.

Hank Greenberg: It turns out that it is harder to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.

R&I: Obviously, you have a very unique perspective and experience in China. For American companies coming to China, what are some of the current challenges?

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Hank Greenberg: Well, they very much want to do business in China. That’s due to the sheer size of the country, at 1.4 billion people. It’s a very big market and not just for insurance companies. It’s a whole range of companies that would like to have access to China as easily as Chinese companies have access to the United States. As I said previously, that has to be resolved.

It’s not going to be easy, because China has a history of not being treated well by other countries. The U.S. has been pretty good in that way. We haven’t taken advantage of China.

R&I: Your op-ed was very enlightening on that topic.

Hank Greenberg: President Xi wants to rebuild the “middle kingdom,” to what China was, a great country. Part of that was his takeover of the South China Sea rock islands during the Obama Administration; we did nothing. It’s a little late now to try and do something. They promised they would never militarize those islands. Then they did. That’s a real problem in Southern Asia. The other countries in that region are not happy about that.

R&I: One thing that has differentiated your company is that it is not a public company, and it is not a mutual company. We think you’re the only large insurance company with that structure at that scale. What advantages does that give you?

Hank Greenberg: Two things. First of all, we’re more than an insurance company. We have the traditional investment unit with the insurance company. Then we have a separate investment unit that we started, which is very successful. So we have a source of income that is diverse. We don’t have to underwrite business that is going to lose a lot of money. Not knowingly anyway.

R&I: And that’s because you are a private company?

Hank Greenberg: Yes. We attract a different type of person in a private company.

R&I: Do you think that enables you to react more quickly?

Hank Greenberg: Absolutely. When we left AIG there were three of us. Myself, Howie Smith and Ed Matthews. Howie used to run the internal financials and Ed Matthews was the investment guy coming out of Morgan Stanley when I was putting AIG together. We started with three people and now we have 3,500 and growing.

“I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

R&I:  You being forced to leave AIG in 2005 really was an injustice, by the way. AIG wouldn’t have been in the position it was in 2008 if you had still been there.

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Hank Greenberg: Absolutely not. We had all the right things in place. We met with the financial services division once a day every day to make sure they stuck to what they were supposed to do. Even Hank Paulson, the Secretary of Treasury, sat on the stand during my trial and said that if I’d been at the company, it would not have imploded the way it did.

R&I: And that fateful decision the AIG board made really affected the course of the country.

Hank Greenberg: So many people lost all of their net worth. The new management was taking on billions of dollars’ worth of risk with no collateral. They had decimated the internal risk management controls. And the government takeover of the company when the financial crisis blew up was grossly unfair.

From the time it went public, AIG’s value had increased from $300 million to $180 billion. Thanks to Eliot Spitzer, it’s now worth a fraction of that. His was a gross misuse of the Martin Act. It gives the Attorney General the power to investigate without probable cause and bring fraud charges without having to prove intent. Only in New York does the law grant the AG that much power.

R&I: It’s especially frustrating when you consider the quality of his own character, and the scandal he was involved in.

In early 2008, Spitzer was caught on a federal wiretap arranging a meeting with a prostitute at a Washington Hotel and resigned shortly thereafter.

Hank Greenberg: Yes. And it’s been successive. Look at Eric Schneiderman. He resigned earlier this year when it came out that he had abused several women. And this was after he came out so strongly against other men accused of the same thing. To me it demonstrates hypocrisy and abuse of power.

Schneiderman followed in Spitzer’s footsteps in leveraging the Martin Act against numerous corporations to generate multi-billion dollar settlements.

R&I: Starr, however, continues to thrive. You said you’re at 3,500 people and still growing. As you continue to expand, how do you deal with the challenge of attracting talent?

Hank Greenberg: We did something last week.

On September 16th, St. John’s University announced the largest gift in its 148-year history. The Starr Foundation donated $15 million to the school, establishing the Maurice R. Greenberg Leadership Initiative at St. John’s School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science.

Hank Greenberg: We have recruited from St. John’s for many, many years. These are young people who want to be in the insurance industry. They don’t get into it by accident. They study to become proficient in this and we have recruited some very qualified individuals from that school. But we also recruit from many other universities. On the investment side, outside of the insurance industry, we also recruit from Wall Street.

R&I: We’re very interested in how you and other leaders in this industry view technology and how they’re going to use it.

Hank Greenberg: I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.

R&I: So as the pre-eminent leader of the insurance industry, what do you see in terms of where insurance is now an where it’s going?

Hank Greenberg: The country and the world will always need insurance. That doesn’t mean that what we have today is what we’re going to have 25 years from now.

How quickly the change comes and how far it will go will depend on individual companies and individual countries. Some will be more brave than others. But change will take place, there is no doubt about it.

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More will go on in space, there is no question about that. We’re involved in it right now as an insurance company, and it will get broader.

One of the things you have to worry about is it’s now a nuclear world. It’s a more dangerous world. And again, we have to find some way to deal with that.

So, change is inevitable. You need people who can deal with change.

R&I:  Is there anything else, Mr. Greenberg, you want to comment on?

Hank Greenberg: I think I’ve covered it. &

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]