3 Best Practices to Work Your Company like a “Teddy” Winner Organization

Learning from the best has its rewards. Risk and Insurance magazine recently announced their 2014 honorees – companies that used innovation and brass tack know-how to reduce claims, prevent injury and improve their bottom line – and there’s plenty to learn from their successes.

The biggest lesson? Programs and efforts that can help make your workplace safer and your employees happier are nearly all low-tech. Whether it’s polishing your employee communication routines, or taking a sharp eye to how equipment and supplies are stored in your workplace, the practices boost efficiency as well as employee morale – and in some cases shaved sizable amounts from workers’ compensation claims and expenses.

Provided below are three best practices that can help get your organization on the right path, and possibly make you a Teddy winner in the waiting:

1. Communicate early and often with injured employees – Following an injury, employees often feel anxious about the claims process and even retaining their job. Anxious feelings often lead to an early call to an attorney – adding expense and stress to the process.

Teddy Award Winner Honda of South Carolina found that focusing on supportive contact from managers and other on-site employees during the first 24 hours after an injury and effective return-to-work programs to manage an efficient return not only helped employees feel more comfortable with the process, but eliminated reflexive calls to lawyers.

Even a “get well soon” card and subsequent follow-up conversations can help an employee feel connected and less anxious during their recovery period. Genuine concern, along with consistent communication not only allows for the coordination of a plan to return to work, but it can help prevent the employee from feeling the need to seek out legal guidance.

2. Develop and commit to innovative return-to-work programs – Speaking of return-to-work programs, expanding the definition of modified duties for employees returning from an injury and not yet ready to return to their regular routine can make a sizable impact. Teddy Award winning food service and support services company Compass Group North America saw a 7 percent net drop in out-of-work days by establishing dozens of modified duty jobs and making key employees responsible for coordinating return-to-work programs at different locations.

Establishing a one or two person on-site committee not only provides visible commitment to helping employees successfully navigate the transition back to work, but also provides a central contact for employee questions or concerns. The changes not only help to  decrease out-of-work days, but also increase worker morale and protect productivity (and dollars) over time.

3. Engineer Safer Work Environment Processes – The most common work place injury is overexertion (excessive pulling, lifting, pushing, or any type of activity that can cause extreme physical or psychological fatigue), which accounts for 26.8 percent ($13.61 billion) of the top causes for disabling injuries.

While Teddy Award winner Cold Springs Hill Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing couldn’t prevent all injuries, it could closely examine its practices and processes to boost efficiency – and reduce risk. Rearranging its storage and inventory to put heavier and commonly used items within easy reach was a low-tech but effective step. Training employees on proper lifting techniques and providing them helpful equipment was another. The end result was a nearly 58 percent drop in claims for the most recent year compared to five years ago.

The bottom line, experts say, is the integration of safety into the company culture from the top down.