2015 Teddy Awards

Commitment to Care

This year’s Teddy Award winners focused on building programs that put employees first and get injured workers back on the job quickly.  
By: | November 2, 2015 • 8 min read

The worlds of workers’ comp and claims management grow more complex almost by the day. A workers’ comp program that used to be managed in-house by a handful of people now involves a far broader field of expertise, with a small army of specialty partners, each armed with terabytes of data.

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For the past 20 years, Risk & Insurance® has given the Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award to exceptional programs that innovate to produce the best results.

But even the leaders of those top-notch programs of decades past would likely be bewildered trying to navigate the ins and outs of managing today’s workplace illness and injury challenges.

The above factors are what made judging the winners of this year’s Teddy Award, sponsored by Sedgwick, so challenging and educational.

It was interesting to see that in addition to relying on advanced tools and strategies, the people leading top programs across the country have an old-fashioned streak. They aren’t just sitting behind desks and directing their teams by email or conference calls.

They’re out in the field, putting eyes on the situation, getting face-to-face with those with boots on the ground, and making things happen. They’re forging the kind of personal relationships necessary to drive meaningful progress.

2015JudgesSidebarThey also have a deep understanding of the fact that it doesn’t matter how you crunch the data, doing what’s right for injured employees will always be what’s right for the company.

Without exception, every Teddy Award application we received gave us something to applaud. It’s never easy to isolate 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 Ron Ehrhardt, vice president of operational safety, Compass Group, a 2014 Teddy Award winner; Wendell Hughes, environmental, health and safety manager, Honda of South Carolina, a 2014 Teddy Award winner; 2014 Risk All Star Patricia Hostine, former 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 Teddy applications independently, and then gathered via conference call to share their thoughts and opinions. They then rated each finalist numerically in five separate categories. The overall average ratings determined the winners.

Results are typically the easiest place to start. Injury frequency, lost time, and medical and indemnity cost data is carefully evaluated with an eye toward year-over-year improvement in performance. Judges considered mergers, fluctuations in staffing levels and other factors that may have influenced outcomes.

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But numbers are just one piece of the puzzle. Program longevity is also evaluated. Most new programs produce impressive numbers in the early years, when low-hanging fruit is easiest to pick. However, a longstanding program showing modest, steady gains year after year may be equally impressive.

Hazard levels and complexity are considered as well — health care facilities, for instance, face a dramatically different set of risk exposures than supermarkets.

Top programs exemplify an absolute commitment to bringing injured employees back to work, keeping them at work, and accommodating virtually any kind of restriction, by any means necessary.

Judges evaluate the finalists based on their own knowledge and experience of what works and what doesn’t, with an eye toward selecting programs that are not only successful today, but have the tools in place to remain successful for the long haul. Flexible, sustainable programs have the infrastructure in place that can adapt over time as the company grows and evolves.

Up Close and Personal

Anne-Marie Amiel, risk manager, Columbus Consolidated Government, Georgia

Anne-Marie Amiel, risk manager, Columbus Consolidated Government, Georgia

A common thread among this year’s Teddy Award candidates was that top workers’ comp professionals don’t shy away from getting in the thick of things. Anne-Marie Amiel, risk manager for 2015 Teddy Award winner Columbus Consolidated Government, received reports that there had been multiple trips and falls in the city’s Fleet Yard body shop. So she went to inspect the shop herself. Spotting a raised lip on a step going into the shop, she asked that the raised edge be painted a bright cautionary color. Result: no more tripping incidents.

She also visits with all of the medical providers who treat injured city workers, to put a “face” on the city so providers know who to call if they have a question about an employee or light-duty options.

Similarly, management at Teddy Award finalist SEEK, a staffing agency based in Grafton, Wis., does onsite visits with clients and conducts safety walkthroughs to get a first-hand look at any location into which they might be sending employees.

Jennifer Saddy, director of workers’ compensation, director of corporate insurance and risk management, American Airlines

Jennifer Saddy, director of workers’ compensation, director of corporate insurance and risk management, American Airlines

2015 Teddy Award winner American Airlines’ workers’ compensation director Jennifer Saddy and her team also meet face-to-face with clinical personnel to discuss expectations and parameters. They conduct in-person training sessions for their TPAs, medical providers, physical therapists and case managers to ensure that everyone involved has a complete understanding of the environment that airline employees work in and the risks they face.

Bringing Them Back

Only a decade ago, the return-to-work programs of many Teddy Award applicants could have been summed up as, “We bring employees back to work as soon as a doctor clears them to return to their jobs.” Some tried to accommodate limits like lifting restrictions. But the overall picture was typically basic.

In 2015, however, return-to-work is the arena where most Teddy Award applicants and winners shine brightest. Top programs exemplify an absolute commitment to bringing injured employees back to work safely, keeping them at work and accommodating virtually any kind of restriction, by any means necessary.

A number of Teddy Award applicants took a proactive approach to secure alternative funding to pay workers on modified duty to ensure there are no RTW obstacles.

They also eschew the past trend of using “busywork” for light-duty jobs, and seek out ways that recovering employees can make meaningful and productive contributions to their workplaces.

In the City of Sunnyvale, Calif., police and firefighters — the source of most of the city’s injury claims — are fully cross-trained. That doubles the field of potential modified-duty positions for both groups. An injured police officer, for instance, could easily be employed training new firefighters.

At Columbus Consolidated Government, a police officer with a knee injury was tasked with unravelling a database problem that resulted in unbilled trash collection. She was able to heal from her injury and help the city recoup $100,000 at the same time.

At Brookdale Senior Living, recovering workers engage in anything from planning holiday parties to reorganizing linen closets, to putting together sales and marketing packets — all tasks that need doing, but are a struggle for other workers to fit into their packed workdays.

At staffing agency SEEK, finding modified duty at client locations can be particularly challenging. SEEK uses the opportunity to offer injured workers training that will upgrade their skills or even teach them new skills that can broaden their placement opportunities.

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“While our employees are assigned to light duty, we use the opportunity to better our product — the employee,” wrote Lynne Kossow, SEEK’s health and safety administrator.

For some companies, budgetary concerns make even simple RTW accommodations a difficult choice.

And there is the perennial struggle of how to pay the salaries of those on modified duty while at the same time possibly needing extra manpower to help with whatever tasks the injured worker is unable to do.

We noticed that a number of Teddy Award applicants are taking a proactive approach to securing funding for these concerns, and ensuring that there aren’t any obstacles preventing employees from getting back to work.

The State of Montana, for one, negotiated a program with its insurer that allows it to earn back a certain percentage of its annual premium. Those funds are then earmarked for making accommodations, restructuring work environments, redesigning workstations, and any of the other incidental costs of returning injured workers to the job.

The best part is that with the money saved by enabling more effective RTW, the state is gaining even more return on the premium it earns back.

Caryl Russo, senior vice president for Corporate Care, Barnabas Health

Caryl Russo, senior vice president for Corporate Care, Barnabas Health

2015 Teddy Award winner Barnabas Health, a hospital system facing departmental reluctance to place workers on modified duty due to payroll budget issues, carved out a line item in the HR budget to cover injured workers’ salaries during transitional work.

Brookdale Senior Living took a similar approach, allocating a special budget to pay workers on modified duty so it would not negatively impact the budget of individual communities. They chose to spin the arrangement as the company providing a “free” worker the community would have to help them. “WOW … did the attitudes change!” the company noted in its application.

Employees First

While there is still little collaboration between workers’ comp and group health at most companies, we saw evidence that some lines can blur, particularly when there is an obvious benefit to employees’ well-being and overall safety.

Tamara Ulufanua-Ciraulo, director of insurance, Stater Bros. Markets

Tamara Ulufanua-Ciraulo, director of insurance, Stater Bros. Markets

2015 Teddy Award winner Stater Bros. Markets instituted something it calls the ICE PACK program, which puts physical therapists on-site to offer free advice, taping, wrapping and icing for any aches, pains or injuries, whether the problems are industrial or non-industrial in origin. The program made an impact on overall employee health and resulted in fewer minor injuries becoming workers’ comp claims.

Stamford, Ct.-based Pitney Bowes manages an impressive array of employee programs and services that benefit those with either occupational or non-occupational injuries or illnesses. These programs are designed to help employees manage the many struggles that can arise in the course of an injury or disability.

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“Pitney Bowes recognizes the connection between mental and physical health, and when evaluating any illness or injury, psychosocial, medical, psychological, economic and vocational considerations are explored and addressed as needed.  This enables us to identify potential barriers to wellness, and our ability to remove those barriers to increase a timely, safe and successful return to work,” the company explained in its application.

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Read more about all of the 2015 Teddy Award winners:

AA LAX TuesdayRevamped Program Takes Flight: The American Airlines and U.S. Airways merger meant integrating workers’ compensation programs for a massive workforce. The results are stellar.

 

112015_03_stater 150X150Checking Out Solutions: From celebrating safety success to aggressively rooting out fraud and abuse, Stater Bros. Markets is making workers’ comp risk management gains on multiple fronts.

 

112015_04_columbus 150X150Revitalizing the Program: In three years, the Columbus Consolidated Government was able to substantially reduce workers’ compensation claims costs, revamp return-to-work and enhance safety training.

 

112015_05_barnabas 150X150Spreading Success: Barnabas Health wins a Teddy Award for pushing one hospital’s success in workers’ comp systemwide.

 

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]