By Clairmonte Cappelle, Executive Director
As we wind down the school year and prepare for the summer break, I would like to thank our Trust and Pool Members for their ongoing partnership. The school year has been fluid and filled with uncertainty, to say the least. As your unemployment and workers’ compensation claims and risk management resource, we have been able to support your navigation of that uncertainty through our multiple communication tools and methods, including virtual informational and update sessions and our Sound Advice and Sound Byte e-newsletters, with topics ranging from managing the onslaught of fraudulent unemployment claims to providing guidance on classroom and workplace safety amid a viral pandemic to managing claims that may have resulted from COVID-19 exposure. As we look toward the 2021-22 school year, I would like to share our plans that build on our partnership work over the 2020-21 school year.
We remain committed to the Pathway to Change that guides our partnership work. This work consists of four strategic areas of focus:
- Transformational Relationship Experience
- Educational Continuity
- Responsible Stewardship
- Employee Experience.
Our strategic plan for the coming year includes objectives that support each of these areas of focus.
Transformational Relationship Experience
To foster a consistently high-quality experience for school districts and their staff with our claims and risk management services, we will:
- Continue to survey school district members and their injured workers to assess their satisfaction with our services and gather feedback to inform service delivery enhancement and alignment of our services with needs.
- Leverage feedback from our Race Equity Leadership Survey to enhance delivery of culturally responsive claims and risk management services, with the goal of building stronger race equity leadership partnerships with our school districts and business partners.
- Expand the rollout of our school district member dashboard, providing actionable business and claim data analytics to inform workers’ compensation risk reduction decision making.
- Individualize the rollout of our WCT Nurse Triage service to further humanize the claims experience for injured workers and ensure delivery of the most appropriate care.
To support staffing stability for our school district partners, preventing job-related staff injury and illness and averting unnecessary disability duration in the event of an injury, we will:
- Continue assessing and supporting enhancements to our school district members’ risk reduction efforts, developing individualized service plans that identify strengths to build on and opportunities to prevent injury and illness and mitigate disability days more effectively.
- Finalize development of our safety incentive program, supporting innovation towards a safer working and learning environment.
- Expand individualized implementation of our Physical Ability Evaluation Program to prevent our school district partners’ next workers’ compensation claim by ensuring selected candidates can physically perform the essential functions of the job.
- Remain steadfast in our commitment to the Return-to-Work Incentive Program, equitably allocating $1.8 million among school district members to bring injured workers with medically cleared restrictions back to work. Members with eligible claims can, at their discretion, receive reimbursement for 50% of that worker’s salary – up to $10K or for 90 days of work, whichever comes first.
To protect and make prudent use of entrusted resources through cost containment, risk reduction, and incentive programs to minimize our school district members’ total cost of risk, we will:
- Continue to invest wisely in programs such as the Return-to-Work Incentive Program, Physically Ability Evaluation Program, Hearing Conservation Program, Nurse Triage Program, and Safety Incentive Program.
- Continue to leverage the claims management strategies and expertise that have resulted in closing ratios exceeding 1.0 (for each new claim received, an open claim is closed) and net favorable reserve development (actual claims cost less than actuarial projections) for the past 6 years.
- Maintain sound decision making and practices that have resulted in an average annual base rate increase of less than 1% over the past 10 years.
- Enhance our efforts to demonstrate to Workers’ Compensation Trust members the value of Unemployment Pool membership and vice versa, allowing us to expand our support as a trusted partner.
To cultivate a culture that fosters staff engagement and encourages best work, we will:
- Continue to survey our Trust/Pool staff, soliciting feedback that will inform strategies that further enhance staff engagement and job satisfaction.
- Continue to invest in staff professional development opportunities that encourage their interests and continued growth in areas that align with our work.
- Continue to actively cultivate a culture of community and camaraderie that recognizes and appreciates staff for accomplishments and contributions while recognizing staff members as culturally abundant individuals.
At the Trust and Pool, we value our partnership with our school district members. We have constructed this work plan with the goal, informed by your feedback, of aligning our activities to best support your Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation Claims and Risk Management needs. We look forward to continuing to provide you with the stellar service you have come to expect from us.
Have a safe and enjoyable Summer!