2016 Teddy Award Winner

Bringing Focus to Broad Challenges

Target brings home a 2016 Teddy Award for serving as an advocate for its workers, pre- and post-injury, across each of its many operations.
By: | November 2, 2016 • 6 min read

Target’s roughly 341,000 employees perform a wide array of tasks. In its nearly 1,800 retail locations, they stock shelves, walk the aisles assisting customers and man the cash registers, sometimes staying on their feet for hours on end. In the company’s 38 distribution centers, they move large pallets and work side by side with heavy machinery.

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Target also operates in 49 of the 50 United States. As any national company can attest to, this presents regulatory complexity, as no two states are the same when it comes to safety regulation, health care resources and workers’ compensation law.

The safety and workers’ comp challenges, to say the least, are broad.

Then, the retail giant underwent a companywide reorganization in March 2015, which left the risk management department with fewer team members, and just as much work to accomplish. The team is responsible for safety, claims, finance and insurance across the corporation.

“We had an opportunity to help team members learn new skills and expand their knowledge base,” said Jodi Neuses, safety director, Target. “From the safety team’s perspective, we had to do some cross-training so that everyone had a well-rounded understanding of our risks on both the retail and the distribution side. We no longer had specialized experts in just one part of the business.”

The same was true on the workers’ comp side of the equation.

The Target Risk Management Team (L to R): First Row - Shannon Simonette, MaryJo Pollock, Dan Hawkins, Rachel Gillman, Debbie Marshall, Alicia Kronstedt; Second/Third Row - Carla LaVere, Megan Rooney, Melissa Cudzilo, Eric Oldroyd, Dean Sherman, Elaine Boevers, Gina LoPesio, Ben Holmes, Jodi Neuses, Amanda Lagatta; Not pictured: Diane Howden, Rob Wilkey and Debra Shoemaker.

The Target Risk Management Team (L to R):
First Row – Shannon Simonette, MaryJo Pollock, Dan Hawkins, Rachel Gillman, Debbie Marshall, Alicia Kronstedt; Second/Third Row – Carla LaVere, Megan Rooney, Melissa Cudzilo, Eric Oldroyd, Dean Sherman, Elaine Boevers, Gina LoPesio, Ben Holmes, Jodi Neuses, Amanda Lagatta; Not pictured: Diane Howden, Rob Wilkey and Debra Shoemaker.

“We were fortunate to have team members who were specialists in workers’ comp claims and have previously been adjusters,” said Amanda Lagatta, Target’s director of insurance and claims. “We had people with similar skill-sets work together to apply those skills in new ways.”

The team also began re-evaluating whether it was utilizing its third-party vendors in the most efficient way.

“We made several changes with our claims vendors and managed-care vendors, so that we were fully leveraging all the services they provide,” Lagatta said.

Neuses and her team turned to professional associations like the American Society of Safety Engineers and the Minnesota Safety Council to stay updated on the latest guidelines and training. Vendors and professional groups have become a regular source of expert advice for the safety team.

Rebuilding the expertise of the safety and workers’ comp team offered an opportunity to view the company’s challenges with a fresh perspective. It opened their eyes to new ways to improve their programs.

The workers’ comp claims team, for example, made greater use of predictive analytics to streamline and expedite its processes.

“This is a service that we think is unique to us, and has really evolved to become a central part of our advocacy program.” — Amanda Lagatta, director of insurance and claims, Target

Originally, the analytical tool was used to determine at the outset the level of adjuster that should be assigned to a case. It was meant to direct the right level of expertise to a claim. The problem with that model, however, is that it touches a claim only once and does not account for how the claimant’s experience changes over time.

“We subsequently updated the model so that it looks at a claim at different points throughout its lifecycle, not just at the start,” Lagatta said. “As things change, we’ll evaluate the use of a return-to-work coordinator, and when we should call a roundtable to discuss a claim’s progress to develop a new strategy or get different people involved.”

Diving deeper into claims data also helps the safety team pinpoint where injuries are happening, so they can focus prevention efforts where they’re needed most.

Stronger Safety Culture

A culture of safety devoted to keeping team members and guests safe is a critical goal for Target. Efforts are focused on creating a top-down culture of safety throughout the company, including leading off meetings at distribution centers with safety messages, and leveraging an ergonomic specialist to consult on workstation design and merchandise presentation to minimize injury risk. The team also engages the “assets protection” leader at every retail location to take on the role of “safety captain” to reinforce a culture of safety in their stores.

Amanda Lagatta, director of insurance and claims, Target

Amanda Lagatta, director of insurance and claims, Target

Huddles — how the Target store teams refer to their twice-daily gatherings — and Start Up Messages, in which managers communicate the company’s safety message before the day begins and lead their teams in stretching and other warm-up exercises, are another key feature of the safety program.

Signage in stores and distribution centers remind employees of hazards and safety practices they should follow to mitigate them. Training programs for powered equipment were simplified and adjusted to allow trainers and supervisors to control when an employee is ready to be certified and move on to independent work.

“Safety is mission-critical,” Neuses said. “We try to be proactive and continually reinforce that message.”

Advocacy-Based Model

Unfortunately, even the most thorough safety program can’t prevent all accidents. When an injury does occur, Lagatta and her team ensure that the worker is treated with respect and care — and treated quickly.

When a team member is injured on the job, they often don’t know how to navigate the workers’ comp system or how exactly the claims process works. Confusion and frustration can add to the employee’s stress and lead them to delay seeking care.

As part of an initiative to build a more formal, advocacy-based claims model, Target instituted a Workers’ Comp Assistance Center with the help of its TPA, Sedgwick Claims Management Services.

“This is a service that we think is unique to us, and has really evolved to become a central part of our advocacy program,” Lagatta said. “Someone from the assistance center — not the claims adjuster — will reach out to the team member and make the first contact with them. Their job is to reassure the team member that we care and we’re there for them, to familiarize them with the workers’ comp process and answer any questions.”

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Those initial calls are also an opportunity to collect additional information about the claimant and the injury. That data is entered into the predictive modeling system and used to direct the right resources to the case.

Return-to-work coordinators are another critical component of the advocacy approach, and the retailer’s return-to-work program is a differentiator in the industry.

The risk management team has identified suitable light-duty positions for injured workers, and provides 12 weeks of modified duty payroll to support the stores using this program. But sometimes follow-up surgeries are necessary, and recovery can be a difficult road. Post-surgery, injured employees may receive another 12 weeks to accommodate the additional treatment.

Third-party service providers again play an important role in this process. Nurse case managers liaise with physicians and human resource departments to gather the information they need, and keep all parties on the same page. For example, they can analyze an injured team member’s abilities and investigate worksites to determine what is safe and suitable.

“We really rely on our vendors to help navigate that process and make informed decisions,” Lagatta said. “We’re fortunate to have partners we can trust, so we can maximize the impact of our department.”

Since implementing these changes in safety, claims management and return-to-work, Target has seen reductions in claim frequency, length and cost, and has improved the experience for its injured workers. &

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Read more about the 2016 Teddy Award winners:

target-150x150Bringing Focus to Broad Challenges: Target brings home a 2016 Teddy Award for serving as an advocate for its workers, pre- and post-injury, across each of its many operations.

 

hrt-150x150The Road to Success: Accountability and collaboration turned Hampton Roads Transit’s legacy workers’ compensation program into a triumph.

 

excela-150x150Improve the Well-Being of Every Life: Excela Health changed the way it treated injuries and took a proactive approach to safety, drastically reducing workers’ comp claims and costs.

 

harder-150x150The Family That’s Safe Together: An unwavering commitment to zero lost time is just one way that Harder Mechanical Contractors protects the lives and livelihoods of its workers.

 

More coverage of the 2016 Teddy Awards:

Recognizing Excellence: The judges of the 2016 Teddy Awards reflect on what they learned, and on the value of awards programs in the workers’ comp space.

Fit for Duty: 2013 Teddy Winner Miami-Dade County Public Schools is managing comorbid risk factors by getting employees excited about healthy living.

Saving Time and Money: Applying Lean Six Sigma to its workers’ comp processes earned Atlantic Health a Teddy Award Honorable Mention.

Caring for the Caregivers: Adventist Health Central Valley Network is achieving stellar results by targeting its toughest challenges.

Advocating for Injured Workers: By helping employees navigate through the workers’ comp system, Cottage Health decreased lost work days by 80 percent.

A Matter of Trust: St. Luke’s workers’ comp program is built upon relationships and a commitment to care for those who care for patients.

Keeping the Results Flowing: R&I recognizes the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago for a commonsense approach that’s netting continuous improvement.

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

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]