NWCDC Speaker Update

Speakers Selected For National Workers’ Compensation Conference

By: | March 28, 2014 • 3 min read

Roberto Ceniceros is senior editor at Risk & Insurance® and chair of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at [email protected] Read more of his columns and features.

Results are in from a committee evaluating speaker proposals for the 23rd Annual National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo.

ConferenceThe selection group and the conference extend their gratitude to everyone who put in the great amount of time and effort necessary for submitting requests for proposal and for the excellent submissions themselves.

The committee also devoted an extensive amount of time and effort to review the RFPs and select speakers for the conference, scheduled for November 19-21 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.


Specific criteria the group considered included:

  • The extent to which a presentation would help attendees resolve real-world workers’ comp program challenges or claims problems.
  • The timeliness of the issues examined.
  • Potential for fresh perspectives from speakers new to the conference.
  • The depth of experience, credentials, and expertise of the speaker in relation to their topic.
  • The speaker’s job description and their position within the industry with particular attention paid to increasing the number of participating risk managers.
  • How well the topic blended with other presentations and the extent to which this would create a cohesive conference program addressing a broad mix of issues.
  • Public speaking and presentation experience of the speakers, when known.

Using these criteria as a guide, the 2014 conference co-chairs reviewed every RFP. The co-chairs are Denise Gillen-Algire, an integrated health and risk management consultant; Nancy Grover, editor of Workers’ Compensation Report; Mark Walls, senior VP, workers’ compensation market research leader at Marsh USA Inc.; and myself.

Each co-chair has years of experience in workers’ comp and brought unique viewpoints to assess the submitted proposals.

While topic and speaker selection is equal part art and science, we gave each selection committee member an equal and independent voice, and employed a methodical selection process.

  • The co-chairs worked independently of each other to rank every RFP submitted on a scale of 1-4 so that equal weight was given to the opinions of each team member.
  • Spreadsheets for ranking proposals included space for committee member comments and opinions to provide a starting point for discussions about an RFP’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Rankings were tallied so the co-chairs could compare and contrast the evaluations.
  • Hours were spent discussing the highest-ranking proposals of each committee member to winnow down the contenders.
  • The NWC&DC’s full Board was consulted on the proposals when the selection committee needed deeper analysis by a wider selection team.

Often, the committee faced multiple submissions on a single topic. For example, a dozen RFPs mentioned opioids, while many others address related topics, such as chronic pain or pharmacy management.

In those cases, we relied on our selection guidelines to seek the strongest candidates.

The selection process helped us meet important goals for the 2014 conference, including:

  • Adding many new speakers to present at the event.
  • Allowing more employers to share their experiences and perspectives.
  • Providing a topic mix that meets the educational needs of diverse professionals working within workers’ comp.

Our review process resulted in the selection of 20 submitted proposals.  Given our mandate to fill 31 conference breakout sessions, the committee’s work is not complete.


Next, conference co-chairs must fill the remaining sessions with presentation topics we feel are necessary, but may not have been included in submitted RFPs. For example, we want to include sessions on risk financing, private equity’s influence on workers’ comp, and employer examples of claims-handling best practices.

We will call on individual RFP submitters to fill remaining sessions where we can. In other cases, we will recruit speakers, again by applying our criteria for selecting presenters who will help workers’ comp professionals address current challenges.

In the coming days, I will write more about the employers and others who will present at our conference and we will notify the selected speakers.

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.


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.


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]