Risk Insider: Peter Rosiere

The Positively Disagreeable Nature of Risk Managers     

By: | March 3, 2015 • 2 min read

Peter Rosiere is the vice president, Risk Management for Sodexo, Inc. He has over 30 years of industry experience including multiple engagements as the senior risk management officer for multibillion dollar companies with decentralized structures and various business models. He can be reached at [email protected]

I don’t know about you, but I often spend my free time (usually stuck in traffic) trying to occupy my mind with positive thoughts. I often think about not just the “what” of things, but “how” and “why.” On the highway one day, I thought … as a risk manager, I am positively disagreeable. And that is not a bad thing at all.

It would be easy to perceive disagreeableness as negative, but it is actually quite useful in risk management. The practice of being disagreeable emphasizes critical thinking skills, which is something that many risk managers encounter all too frequently in their organizations.

No offense to colleagues, but lack of critical thinking skills tends to keep risk managers employed.

When I speak of being disagreeable, by no means do I intend it in a negative sense. Those who infer negativity may lack a complete understanding or appreciation of the exact role of risk management in an organization.

The fact that the risk role differs among organizations, even within the same industry, might add to the confusion.

I speak of being disagreeable in the sense that complete permission and total consensus may not occur and a risk manager must forge ahead. Some may refer to this as “the high wire act without a net.”

Risk management professionals do think differently and look at issues through a different lens from our corporate colleagues. Good risk managers must think from an alternative perspective and be risk innovators. It is all about the complementary nature of the leadership function within effective organizations.

The following is a passage from a 2013 Malcolm Gladwell speech, as referenced in a Wall Street Journal blog:

“‘Part of the role of senior management of creating an atmosphere of innovation is allowing people to be disagreeable,’ said Mr. Gladwell. He stresses that disagreeable doesn’t mean obnoxious but, rather, indifferent to the ways others see them. It’s the characteristic that lets innovators pursue breakthrough ideas even when faced with objections and derision, he said.”

Risk management professionals do think differently and look at issues through a different lens from our corporate colleagues. Good risk managers must think from an alternative perspective and be risk innovators.

When I thought about the above, while stuck in traffic, I came to the conclusion that the same applies to my function. Being the risk leader or risk voice in an organization can be a challenging job given the fluid nature of perceived risk. Alignment of risk strategies with corporate and finance strategies is essential and provides a stable platform to work from.

The rhetorical question flowing from my answer is as follows. If risk managers don’t think in a critical and disagreeable manner, are risk managers really doing their job? The challenge is to remove the doubt. Because we deal with ambiguity on a daily basis, it would be a nice to have at least one certainty.

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]