If you keep up with Gallagher Bassett's Network, you are familiar with the industrial athlete model, which we have discussed previously (and if you want a quick refresher, click through for an infographic and an Industry Insight). Where does this type of cutting-edge program start? In successful programs, it all starts with the Risk Manager, who assembles a team to support and coordinate the industrial athlete model.
Leadership buy-in is crucial to the success of an industrial athlete program – and leaders love data-driven results. By demonstrating the effectiveness of the industrial athlete model on lost work days, you can help prove out ROI.
In 2016, with tightening budgets and temporary indemnity costs on the rise, one of Gallagher Bassett's public sector clients determined that a change needed to be made in their program to lower costs and remain suitably staffed to serve their constituents. The risk manager worked with state and union leaders to support the model. Once they instituted an industrial athlete program across departments, there was a 9% reduction on benefit days compared to the previous year (prior to program changes). On average, the new model shaved 51 lost work days per 10,000 employees.
By setting expectations throughout their organization regarding return to work initiatives and building an infrastructure to support a robust light duty program, the Risk Manager can advocate with the medical community that their organization will support any capability on the part of an injured worker to affect a rapid return to work.
Once a light duty program has been implemented, the next step is to coordinate with the managed care provider to ensure that employees are directed to providers who have the best outcomes for return to work. Working closely with the medical community, and reinforcing a positive mentality regarding capability of the injured worker, the focus shifts from what the injured worker can't to, to what they can do.
By drawing the focus to the injured worker's capabilities, rather than restrictions, the organization is able to provide light duty tasks. Now, the injured worker has a clearer picture of what they can do, rather than ruminating on what they are not able to do.
By establishing a philosophy that the occupational injury team is able to assist the employee to a recovered state through early medical intervention, understanding the return to work program of the employer, and supporting the employee post-recovery (and even pre-injury), many risk managers have seen a reduction in benefit days paid to those injured at work with this style of industrial athlete program.
Mark Lemire has over 25 years of industry experience. You can find him on LinkedIn.