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.
By: | November 2, 2016 • 5 min read

This year, our inbox was near to bursting with Teddy Award applications — we could barely keep up. What a fabulous problem to have.

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It was gratifying to read about the outstanding efforts happening across the country, across all industries. So many programs rose to the top that it was a challenge to pare them down, let alone select overall winners.

For help in selecting winners, we turned to a panel of experts with many decades of hands-on experience. These leaders know what it takes to develop and maintain a truly excellent injury prevention and workers’ compensation program.

We asked the judges to reflect upon the experience.

112016_01_coverstory_cenicerosRoberto Ceniceros, senior editor, Risk & Insurance®; program chair, National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Conference® & Expo

Q: What do you think is the most interesting trend among the Teddy applications this year?

This year’s applicants showed a willingness to apply real creativity to address their toughest comp challenges. That required them to put in the hard work necessary to implement their creative strategies. The trend also shows real bravery because creativity implies they weren’t always borrowing tested ideas as much as they were finding their own path that others can now learn from.

Another trend I saw among them is a growing capacity to engage workers or enlist their help in developing safety strategies and adopting helpful claims management practices. One of this year’s Teddy Award winning companies, for example, enlisted the help of its construction workers to design accommodating return-to-work tasks.

 

noonanMark Noonan, managing principal, casualty practice, Integro Insurance Brokers

Q: As you evaluated this year’s Teddy Awards finalist applications, what struck you in terms of how much employer safety and workers’ comp programs have evolved since you’ve been in the industry?

Through a combination of employees demanding and assisting in developing safe work environments and procedures; enlightened employers who see the value of skilled healthy workers who provide a higher quality deliverable; the government agencies who provide expert guidance and, when necessary, legal recourse for dangerous exposures; and safe workplace advocates who provide assistance and act as watchdogs, safety is now a primary focus in the workplace.

While costs continue to rise as wages and cost of medical treatment and medication continues an upward trajectory, both frequency and severity are declining, with frequency declining every year except one for the last 20-plus years. Today, even companies that are viewed as having high risk job assignments measure the time between lost-time injuries in weeks or months not hours or days as in the last century.

112016_01_coverstory_amielAnne-Marie Amiel, risk manager, Columbus Consolidated Government, Ga.; 2015 Teddy Award winner

Q: Has learning about other strong safety and workers’ comp programs been of value to you in your quest to continuously improve your own?

Winning a Teddy Award for our program was one of the proudest moments of my life, but the ability to interact with other creative, successful program managers at the conference and thereby gain more ideas for even more improvement was an invaluable long-term benefit.

Being given the opportunity this year to take a look at how other highly successful programs have made a difference in the lives of their employees has been an honor, and the creativity of some of these managers inspires me to go even further in our program. Success is a process, not a destination, and I truly believe that those who are innovative can take creative ideas and build on them within their own organization. None of us own all the good ideas, but the ability to learn from and share with others will result in improvement in all sectors of the workers’ compensation world.

112016_01_coverstory_russoCaryl Russo, senior vice president, Barnabas Health Corporate Care; 2015 Teddy Award Winner

Q: From your perspective, how does recognizing employer programs benefit or enrich the workers’ comp community as a whole?

[Forums like the] Teddy Award provide a tremendous opportunity for sharing creative ideas and innovative programs among a wide range of companies and industries. This level of information exchange has far-reaching implications and benefits, and provides the foundation for other companies to consider implementing similar programs, again shining a spotlight on the area of workers’ compensation. There is a halo effect [as] other companies in the region or in the industry sector [look more closely] at how to achieve similar results and accolades. In essence, when we highlight an individual company’s success, we have the opportunity to elevate the broader workers’ compensation platform.

Most importantly, recognizing employer programs provides the chance to acknowledge the hard work of risk managers and other team members who deal with workers’ compensation on a daily basis and are often unsung heroes within their respective organizations.

112016_01_coverstory_saddyJennifer Saddy, director of workers’ compensation, American Airlines; 2015 Teddy Award winner

Q: What advice would you give to next year’s Teddy Award applicants?

There are a lot of great employers doing a lot of really great proactive things to prevent occupational injuries from occurring and improve the process when injuries do occur.  My recommendation for next year’s Teddy Award applicants is to not only highlight the changes your organization has made but also clearly outline the results that those changes were able to achieve.

I also recommend the applicants illustrate the obstacles and challenges they’ve had to overcome in order to achieve the results. This provides the full picture and better helps to understand not only the issues, the changes, but also how significant those changes may have been to the organization.

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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.

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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.

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of 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]