Companies with robust benefit plans that include benefits such as employee assistance and leave programs have a better handle on the risk of complicated workers’ compensation claims that include stress and anxiety, according to disability experts.
“These are absolutely connected,” Bryon Bass, San Francisco-based senior vice president at Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc., said of the link between benefits programs that focus on workers’ well-being and good results in workers’ comp at Monday’s session at Riskworld, the Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc. Annual Conference in Atlanta.
Co-presenter Kimberly George, Chicago-based global director of product development and innovation at Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc., listed several factors she called “stress and anxiety triggers”; that hinder recovery for injured workers: pain, financial problems, the stigma of being injured , family problems, fear and life changes.
“If you don’t recognize what’s going on with that person, then you can’t understand the barriers to recovery, and you might not be able to help the injured worker,” she said.
The solutions can often be found in group health benefits, said Mr. Bass, who encouraged attendees to provide more information to applicants about what is provided by employers under other programs that are often underutilized.
As many as 98% of employers offer employee assistance programs, but only a small amount of employees — 2% in some cases — take advantage of them, George said.
Some EAPs are designed to reintegrate an employee into the workforce after a long illness — a partnership that can work seamlessly with workers, Mr. Bass.
“They actually engage the EAP in the process, and the EAP engages with the team to begin working on a way to show acceptance for the individual to return to the work environment,” he said.
“They can work together to make sure that person gets the support they need to get back to work. We wouldn’t normally think of using EAP for those types of resources.”