No discerning HR professional ever takes a workplace injury lightly but could some leaders still be underestimating its potential impact? HRM spoke to one industry expert who said proper claims management isn’t just about finance and operations – it’s about company culture too.
“You are being judged as an organization by your employees so if you’re not taking care of them, they’re going to notice and they’re going to ask themselves if they care about you,” warns Neil Sharma, co-founder of Isthmus Legal.
Isthmus COO and former HR VP Ross Wace agrees – “As a responsible employer today, you need to be seen to be actively assisting your employees back to work in a safe manner,” he stresses.
“The ‘silent majority’ on the floor are all watching very closely,” he adds, “because, by the grace of God, it’s not them this time but they’re very interested in understanding how they’re going to be treated in the event it was them.”
Wace, who has more than 25 years’ experience in the HR industry, insists the way in which organizations handle employee injuries truly cements its workplace culture.
“Lots of organizations have mission statements and visions but the rubber hits the road when somebody gets hurt,” he says. “Are those words going to be put into action? Do they really mean it? It’s in those times that a company can prove it’s genuine.”
Well managed injury claims can cultivate a culture of trust and respect but poorly managed claims can breed discontent and even encourage system abuse, argues Wace.
“When you’re not managing a claim, employees realize that there’s potential for abuse there,” he warns. “If Joe’s been off for six months with a minor injury and he’s still getting paid, it looks like a good deal to a lot of employees.”
Worryingly, the effect of poor claims management can easily extend outside the walls of your organization.
“Employers are at risk of the internal backlash that comes with poorly managing a claim but they’re also at risk of being exposed to the public,” warns Sharma.
In an increasingly connected world, disgruntled employees can now have their voice heard far easier – and far wider – than ever before.
“The last thing you want after injuring an employee and incurring all the costs associated, is having your company’s name dragged through the mud,” he adds.