Risk Insider: Tony Boobier

Is Risk in Need of a Makeover?

By: | January 26, 2015 • 2 min read

Tony Boobier is an experienced independent consultant focusing on insurance analytics. An international speaker, commentator and published author, he lies awake at night thinking about the convergence of insurance and technology. He can be reached at [email protected]

Topics: ERM | Risk Insider

According to some commentators, the 10 top things we should be frightened about in business in 2015 are, in no particular order:

• Cyber risk — that someone will put a ghost into the machine.

• Strategic risk — that the C-team get it badly wrong.

• Mis-selling — that we sell something we don’t have, or customers don’t really want or need.

• City failure — that London, New York, Paris or wherever, grind to a stumbling halt.

• Conduct risk — that we aren’t good boys and girls.

• Long duration scandals — that we discover skeletons in the cupboard.

• Illicit transactions — that we have been caught conducting business under the table.

• Model risk — that the real situation is worse than our wildest dreams.

• Physical security — that the locks on the windows aren’t strong enough.

• Social media — that we haven’t covered ourselves in glory, and now everybody knows about it.

These are my definitions, not their’s.

Each of these are bad enough in isolation, but the problems really stack up when you put a few of these together, especially in the same organisation. As we try and put controls around some or all of these things, I wonder if we shouldn’t put a little more emotion into the job?

Isn’t “fear” a much more compelling description, one which appeals to our basic instincts, and threatens our security

I’m intrigued by the use of the term “risk management,” which to me seems a calm expression for anticipating, and subsequently being in control of an event or combination of events that might happen.

But does it really adequately convey the seriousness of the problems? Let’s turn up the heat a little more. Why not call it “fear management?”

At least it gives a greater sense of proportion to the impact of getting it wrong on lives, jobs, finances, homes, and other very important things.

Isn’t “fear” a much more compelling description, one which appeals to our basic instincts, and threatens our security

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” said President Franklin Roosevelt.

Actually, I think he was probably wrong.

Read all of Tony Boobier’s Risk Insider articles.

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]