Converting the CEO to the Cause of Workers’ Compensation

With employers addressing ObamaCare and rising health care costs, persuading the CEO to make safety and workers’ compensation priorities might be a challenge.Paul-Preaching

But you know workers’ compensation is also important and you need the CEO’s support. I explained this in last week’s blog, which you can find here.

Your goal is be an evangelist to convert your CEO to the cause of workers’ compensation. Evangelizers are passionate about what they believe. Therefore, you need to passionately believe that employing best practices are good for employees and the organization as a whole.

Why must CEOs be converted to the cause of workers’ compensation? Because it is not enough to get the CEO to express the best crafted messages in all the appropriate internal and eternal communication vehicles.

Unless the CEO is a believer too, all you will get is lip service. That’s bad because lip service kills employee credibility and trust. Your CEO might need reminding that he or she will look really good by showing care about workers.

Convincing the CEO to support safety and workers’ compensation often means building a business case. You want to address why the CEO should care when he or she is mired in endless electronic interruptions.

Get beyond workers’ compensation as
just an insurance cost or legal mandate.
Show it as the opportunity it could be.


To do so, try discussing workers’ compensation from a new perspective. Get beyond workers’ compensation as just an insurance cost or legal mandate. Show it as the opportunity it could be. Like other benefits, workers’ compensation can be used to show that the organization is concerned for their employee’s welfare. Effective workers’ compensation programs also address absenteeism.

Another way is to discuss workers’ compensation as a litmus test for employee satisfaction and morale. This is based on the idea that if there are troubles with workers’ compensation, chances are there are also problems with other human resources issues including high turnover or equal employment opportunity, sexual harassment or Americans with Disabilities Act complaints.

When CEOs understand that workers’ compensation is part of the systemic whole  — and not just another cost of business expense  — they should see more reason to act.

As for building a business case, demonstrate the costs and lost opportunities due to unsafe workplaces, claim filing lag time, poor medical care and lack of return-to-work opportunities. The direct costs can be compelling enough, but indirect costs – including training productivity and opportunity costs — up the ante of the true expense of employee absence.

You can get average percentage guesstimates of these costs from organizations including the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), the National Council of Compensation Insurance, Inc., and the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI). Become a member of WCRI or IBI and find even more data – and yes, tell them I sent you!

Another approach is to profile three types of “average workers,” explaining the costs of hiring, training, productivity and other value such employees brings to the organization.

Don’t forget to point out how assuring best practices for workers’ compensation does more than encourage employee morale. These practices also support the organization’s corporate culture and doctrine of excellence, which are of course reflected in the organization’s business plan, mission and vision statements, company philosophy, strategic plan and any other corporate documentation.

And finally, do not give up. Spend time trying to change the culture as much as you can. Discuss your points whenever you get the chance from the water cooler to the boardroom.

If you have other suggestions for making the business case for workers’ compensation or other organizations where employers can find data, please comment below. Thanks!

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13 thoughts on “Converting the CEO to the Cause of Workers’ Compensation

  1. Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson says:

    I had such a CEO when Keith Brown was the CEO of WorkCover SA, Keith understood that change had to be from the top down and that he had to be the person to lead the way.
    Keith was a man ahead of his time, I am not sure if the people in WorkCover SA now understand how important it was for all of us to know that we had open access to the CEO’s office.

    Much of the work that I do now is based on the teaching that I gained during the years that Keith was in charge of WorkCover SA.
    Keith ensured that all his staff understood that injured workers were the very reason that the Corporation is in place.
    Sadly that all came to an end in 2002, since then there has been 1 acting CEO, 1 Deputy CEO and 3 CEO’s, not one of them has continued the stakeholder engagement at the level it was (we used to laugh that Keith would hold a celebration/party for an envelop opening)

    Keith and I had an unoffical monthy meeting, we would have coffee and chat about all things workers compensation, Keith knew no matter what he would always hear the truth from me about what needed to be changed and what needed to be improved.
    Since that time I have had 2 meetings with the WorkCover CEO’s and they wonder just why it is that there is no trust in place.

    WorkCover SA = WorkCover South Australia 🙂

    • annmariecommunicatesinsurance says:

      Thank you for your comments. It is too bad that more CEOs do not get the importance of workers’ compensation. We just have to keep educating them. It does not help that the media that serves the C-Suite does not cover workers’ compensation very much. Given the changes to the health care system in America, it makes sense that CEO’s are focused on that. At the same time, workers’ compensation does affect health care and employee productivity. The CEOs who see the light are generally more successful, I believe.

  2. Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson says:

    The interesting thing in regard to the outcome of Keith Brown being involved as he was is that I now have a far better understanding of how the workers compensation industry works. I am also on the national speaking circuit here in Australia (and now with interest coming from America) I speak about the many positice aspects that were on both sides of the workers compensation industry simply because keith Brown understood the importance of working with the very people he was running the Corporation for.

  3. Jim Galletly says:

    Risk Managers can make Sr Mgt and profit center managers take notice of WC by expressing cost in terms other than total dollars, and use key company benchmarks. A leading beer maker in the US expressed all costs as “$XX.XX per barrell”, and when the WC cost per barrell was equivalent to cost for other accepted significant cost drivers, the management took notice! So risk managers should consider loading exposure data bases in their RMIS and being able to express WC costs in familiar benchmarks, in retail as a % of revenue per customer transaction, in sports as a % of per seat/ticket revenue, or as a percent of payroll in many industries.

    • annmariecommunicatesinsurance says:

      I agree, but we can go beyond that by looking at absenteeism costs. I also think that since ObamaCare is such a huge concern right now, we can point out that workers’ compensation also covers medical costs so it remains relevant even though those costs fall into a different bucket. The idea is to make workers’ compensation as part of total health and productivity effort, which provides greater context for the CEO.

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