Risk Insider: Martin Frappolli

What’s Your Education Risk Management Policy?

By: | October 23, 2014 • 2 min read
Martin J. Frappolli, CPCU, FIDM, AIC, is Senior Director of Knowledge Resources at The Institutes, and editor of the organization's new “Managing Cyber Risk” textbook. He can be reached at [email protected]

One common theme among our industry’s educational conferences is a focus on the future, from discussing what insurance and risk management professionals should know about increasingly complex automotive technologies to what the industry is doing to address long-term demographic trends.

I always look forward to these sessions, as I do any opportunity to learn from colleagues and industry experts, because it seems as if our profession is changing more, and faster, than ever.

This pace of technological change and the exponential increase of data are leading to unforeseen challenges and opportunities. It’s amazing, but has the potential to be scary for the unprepared.

Consider the companies that didn’t fully understand the risks of firms like Uber and Lyft and turned away their business; some regulators still struggle with the sharing economy concept.

Think of the agencies whose clients were vulnerable because they didn’t research the details of cyber risk until after there was a data breach.

Imagine how many organizations out there are exposed to possible failures and inefficiencies because leadership isn’t aware of fundamental enterprise risk management (ERM) practices.

So what could be done, then, to prepare for the as-yet-unnamed challenges of the future? Quite simply, plan to stay educated.

There should be a conscious, proactive effort to assess what types of information a company needs to be successful, and to put a structure in place to make sure employees are getting that information.

For keeping team members up-to-date on the latest market developments, organizations need a formal strategy that goes beyond traditional in-house training or tuition reimbursement.

Just like they need an ERM plan to assess the insurable and non-insurable risks they face, they need education risk management to address the risks posed by having uninformed professionals. Let’s call it an Ed-RM plan.

From a high level, education risk management would ensure that new employees are brought up to speed quickly and thoroughly during the onboarding process and would also lay out a plan for the ongoing maintenance of their expertise.

It doesn’t mean that organizations have to mandate that employees pursue advanced degrees or designations, although encouraging them to do so would certainly be an effective way to make sure there are capable leaders waiting in the wings.

What it does mean is that there should be a conscious, proactive effort to assess what types of information a company needs to be successful, and to put a structure in place to make sure employees are getting that information.

Of course, all the current ways we learn new ideas and technical skills would fit into this plan.

Attending conferences, networking with colleagues, pursuing continuing education, and even reading industry publications like this one are valuable tactics for continuous learning.

But an Ed-RM plan would establish a strategy. If we aren’t constantly discovering new skills and improving our training in an industry changing as quickly ours, then we are falling behind.

The smartest and most successful businesses are those that recognize lack of learning as a risk and learn to manage it.

Read all of Martin Frappolli’s Risk Insider contributions.

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]