Opinion | Pressure Creates Workers’ Comp Diamonds, and There Are Plenty to Go Around

By: | May 20, 2021

Michelle Kerr is Workers' Compensation Editor for Risk & Insurance, and chair of the annual National Comp conference. She can be reached at [email protected]

“See you in Vegas!” It still sounds odd to say. But I’m saying it a lot these days, and wow, it feels good.

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I always look forward to the National Workers Compensation and Disability Conference (National Comp), but this year feels different. It is different. So I’m putting a lot of thought into what I want to ask people — in person — when I’m finally given the opportunity.

Top on my list will be, “Tell me about your pandemic diamonds.” Sounds hokey, I know. Let me explain.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the great pleasure to speak with four dynamic workers’ comp leaders in preparation for “From ‘Closed for Business’ to ‘Open for Resilience’: Perspectives on Mapping the Workers’ Comp Path Forward,” a special National Comp presentation airing May 26.

The presentation will feature Mike Cirillo, CEO of myMatrixx; Tom Warsop, CEO of One Call; Jennifer Saddy, managing director of absence management, American Airlines; and Dave Taylor, senior director of workers’ compensation, Charter Communications. Each of these leaders sat down with R&I to share stories about what they’ve faced during the last year-plus. And also stories about what they’ve learned.

My takeaway is that pressure creates diamonds of many, many kinds.

The pressures on business leadership have been extraordinary in every way, not the least of which has fallen to health, safety and workers’ comp professionals. Our organizations have had to solve problems and make decisions with virtually no map or precedent to guide them.

And they had to get it right, because the safety — even the lives — of so many rested on their shoulders.

Things done in the name of COVID-19 safety have revealed broader opportunities to impact future injury prevention significantly. Those opportunities are all diamonds.

As organizations have learned to be more nimble throughout the pandemic, they made new paths to keep up with the whirlwind of regulations and guidelines.

New ways of working — safer ways, faster ways, more efficient ways, different processes or policies. Things done in the name of COVID-19 safety have revealed broader opportunities to impact future injury prevention significantly. Those opportunities are all diamonds.

They also found new ways of creating those paths, including changes in the way that decisions are made and executed, eliminating lags and roadblocks that had historically slowed them down. If that’s not a diamond, I don’t know what is.

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Some of these changes have motivated organizations to take a closer look at their before and after. What did we change? What improvements did that drive? How can we capture what’s better and continue to leverage that into the future, long after the pandemic has left our daily conversations?

The changes that we keep … the ideas, the strategies, the programs and processes are bonafide diamonds in the worlds of the people they impact. Their value is measured in their potential to propel us forward and prevent even more injuries, while helping injured workers get back to work and recover faster

Register now to join us on May 26th to hear more from these leaders, and learn about their pandemic diamonds. You’ll hear about plenty more this October at National Comp. I hope I get the chance to ask about your organizations’ own discoveries.

Can’t wait to hear your answers. &

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