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]

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