threatens others. This can put at risk
traditional roles, leaving workers
Such a technological transformation
cannot occur without a wholesale
cultural transformation. Digitization
is indeed a change of tools, but it is
also a change of workplace models,
hierarchical relationships, customer
experiences, competitors and most
To be successful, culture change
starts at the top. Leadership and a
devoted implementation team are
prerequisites to effectively move an
organization to a more flexible, less
hierarchical, more autonomous digital
culture where employees can truly be
creative. A workplace environment not
to be feared, but revered.
Knowing this, getting early worker
engagement, retraining and finding
new ways to adapt existing skills
should be much easier. Just because the
typewriters left the shop floor doesn’t
mean you can’t adapt and develop
digital skills such as using a digital
speech interface to do all your typing. &
JOANNA MAKOMASKI is a specialist in
innovative enterprise risk management
methods and implementation techniques.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I fondly remember my high school home economics classes where we learned to cook, sew and do wood
work. In fact, my high school years were on the cusp of the
takes advantage of rapidly growing
internet connectivity and rich data.
It is poised to drive out inefficiencies,
optimize resources and (ideally) help
workers do their jobs better and more
Brilliant risk management
capabilities such as personal protective
clothing that is equipped with worker
vital sign sensors have now been
unlocked. This sensor data empowers
field, remote and centralized workers in
real time, allowing critical information
to be shared with support entities,
including emergency responders if the
worker experiences any health issues.
This used to be equipment reserved
only for science fiction movies or space
Even with this blunt reality
unfolding before our eyes, very
important people seem to be resisting
change. Maybe out of pure politics
or nostalgia for simpler times we see
attempts to resurrect industries and
jobs that are no longer viable. Maybe
some don’t realize that keeping dying
jobs alive on life-support systems such
as subsidies and incentives is simply
There is no question that this
technology transformation can
empower some workers; but it also
how we make money is changing —
ever evolving. Tools are smarter, more
Like it or not, we have entered
the high speed digital transformation
highway and there is little room for a
U-turn for any industry.
This is a transformation affecting
all of our computing devices and tools
— devices that connect to each other,
talk, take directions from each other,
and learn lessons, each exploiting the
deep pool of data they collect and store.
Technology research firm Gartner
suggested that by 2020 there will be
more than 26 billion connected devices
This new technological paradigm
gender shift, when girls were finally
allowed to join the boys in wood
working classes. We also had an
elective class where we could learn to
type using a typewriter — that crazy
contraption that was thought only
to be a fad and for which I saw little
I never did take the typing class.
Fast forward to today — how deeply
I regret my naive, limited thinking
and decision. How I wish I took those
8th grade typing classes. There isn’t
an hour of any day when I am not
hunting-and-pecking at a keyboard.
How I still suffer.
It is clear the world around us is ever
changing. How we do and make things,
Can We Walk the
BY ROBERTO CENICEROS
employer and the employer’s insurer
argued the 76-year old committed
fraud by claiming he had not received
The courts believed the worker’s
argument that he bought the horse
19 years earlier for $20,000 and that
raising horses was a hobby. The
insurer’s claims adjuster admitted at
trial that had the claimant earned
money from a garage sale it would be
immaterial to his workers’ comp claim.
The claimant won attorneys’ fees for
both trial and appeals court expenses.
Such outcomes do raise questions
about the resources spent pursuing
Some leading-edge employers have
shifted to emphasizing injured worker
advocacy, and their claims service
providers are espousing the philosophy.
But it will take time before we really
see whether a system bias favoring
fraud investigations is widely replaced
by an advocacy approach. &
ROBERTO CENICEROS is senior editor at
Risk & Insurance® and chair of the National
Workers’ Compensation and Disability
Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at
It’s impossible to avoid recent talk calling for increasing injured-worker advocacy and engagement by treating
injured workers with more compassion and empathy.
hard to miss, meanwhile.
A recent newsletter from a major
broker, for instance, recommended
training managers in listening and
showing empathy as a strategy for
reducing workers’ comp litigation.
During the 2016 National Workers’
Compensation and Disability
Conference® & Expo, keynote speaker
Tim East, a director of corporate risk
management at The Walt Disney Co.,
encouraged claims payers to focus on
advocating for injured workers.
And a workers’ comp practice leader
at a major third party administrator,
as another example, recently spoke to
me at length about his organization’s
adoption of “a culture and philosophy
around caring.” He did this when
I called asking about difficulties
establishing injury causation.
And yet, those in a position to
know have not seen a decline in claims
referred for investigation. Court cases
also reveal plenty of examples of claims
payers, perhaps needlessly, pursuing
A Louisiana appeals court, for
instance, recently found for a worker
who sold a horse for $3,500 while
receiving workers’ comp benefits. His
attempting to bilk employers?
Why not shift the attention to
improving claims outcomes overall by
engaging injured workers who need a
paycheck as much as employers need
them back on the job?
This is not an argument for
eliminating all worker-fraud
investigations. There are cases needing
But it is a call for reexamining
re-evaluating which practices to
emphasize and reshaping how injured
workers are thought of.
The discussions about injured-
worker empathy and engagement in
the workers’ compensation arena are
It remains to be seen, however,
whether taking a softer, more
supportive approach to injured workers
is just talk. Or will the philosophy take
hold across the workers’ compensation
industry, significantly reshaping claims
management practices, such as slashing
the percentage of claims referred for
investigation and litigation?
Accompanying the argument for
greater injured-worker engagement
is the idea that the vast number of
workers’ claims are legitimate, with
employer-premium fraud and provider
fraud being much bigger problems.
So why not spare the valuable
resources spent chasing the tiny
percentage of cases involving workers
BY JOANNA MAKOMASKI