Workers’ compensation costs are always a concern for employers—but in today’s tough economy, employers should be more watchful than ever. As financially stressed employees grow increasingly worried about their money problems, many are preoccupied and less attentive on the job. This can greatly increase the risk of an injury. Plus, when employees become anxious about potential layoffs, workers’ compensation claims may increase as workers look for a way to maintain their income.
This is precisely why employers need to take every possible measure to rein in workers’ comp costs right now. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure employees stay happy and claims don’t mushroom out of control:
Open the lines of communication
Everywhere they turn, employees are hearing bad news about the economy. Consequently, workers are growing increasingly anxious about their job security and financial well-being. Now more than ever, it is absolutely critical for employers to keep the lines of communication open with their worried employees.
However, while it’s important to give workers the morale boost they need, it’s also important to be truthful. Don’t sugar-coat a bad situation. Studies show that employees who work for employers who are truthful, fair and supportive have lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
Research also shows that workers trust their immediate boss more than the company’s senior leaders. Therefore, direct supervisors should offer their employees plenty of support right now and immediately address any widespread anxiety or rumors.
Keep a close watch on claims
Although employers should always meticulously monitor claims, this becomes even more vital in a rough economy. That’s because many workers may attempt to abuse the system when they are feeling financially stressed.
As you scrutinize the amount and type of claims being filed by your employees, keep an eye out for suspicious trends or patterns. This may help you identify potential abuse. If you suspect any type of exploitation, report it immediately.
Give employees the right title
If your company has recently gone through lay offs or experienced a reduction in workforce, some workers may have changed positions or taken on additional responsibilities. If this is the case, ensure that your employees’ job classifications are up-to-date.
Encourage good health
Companies with wellness programs, fitness opportunities, nutritious food choices and other health-related perks have healthier, more productive employees. Healthy employees are less likely to suffer from illness or injury—which means they are less likely to miss work.
This is why it’s so important to adopt some sort of wellness program for your employees and establish a relationship with a qualified occupational medical provider. Find physicians who follow ACOEM (American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine). Although they may be more expensive, it’s well worth the cost. These experts will take time to understand your company’s needs and ensure your workers stay healthy, productive and on the job—which will save you untold amounts of money in the long run.
Educate your employees about finances
In our current economic downturn, many of your employees are likely struggling to manage their finances. They don’t know where to turn for financial advice and expertise.
To relieve some of their stress, consider sponsoring office workshops and classes about financial matters like reducing credit card debt, investing wisely, securing a home loan and saving for college. This will give your employees the financial guidance they need while ensuring that they stay happy and productive on the job.
In any economy, whether it’s up or down, one thing is always clear: every day a worker is off the job, the employer loses money. Although you may be focused on other company problems right now, such as a reduced workforce, dwindling budgets and a decrease in sales, it’s important to maintain your focus on workers’ compensation issues.
Try to cut back on illnesses and injuries with a wellness program and other health perks. If an employee is injured, do everything possible to return that worker safely to the job as quickly as possible. After all, the longer an employee is out of work, the more difficult it is to get him back to work—and the higher the price tag for the employer.