I must admit, as a proud father I might be biased, but she looked beautiful up on that stage. Her delivery was pitch perfect, and she sounded wonderful to the very large audience assembled. I am not talking about a child, however. I am talking about a concept; a concept that I have been promoting for several years both here in the blog and many conferences around the nation. Last Wednesday, however, was her “big moment”; a moment that took her from the Off Broadway Wilson Road Show to the big stage itself. I have to say the performance was a stunning success, with the delivery right on target.

The concept, of course, is that workers’ compensation is, for today’s purposes, improperly named. People entering the system are completely oblivious as to who we are or how the system works. Too often they latch onto the one word they understand, “compensation”, and fail to focus on the longer term needs such as proper treatment, health and wellness. This is particularly damaging as these people do not understand the concept of compensation in the manner that we are statutorily set to provide it. Therefore I have been advocating for several years that our industry must be renamed. Workers’ Compensation should be called Workers’ Recovery.

Change the name and you change the culture; virtually overnight.

Last week, Tim East, Director of Corporate Risk Management for the Walt Disney Company, delivered an outstanding Keynote presentation to the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference. He discussed the need to anticipate and accept change within our industry, and relayed excellent points related to how the words we use can positively impact our outcomes.

As Risk and Insurance Magazine reported last week:

Employers have been advised for years to refer to their people as “injured workers” rather than claimants. But East took that concept further, noting that Disney refers to its claims adjusters as workers’ comp representatives.

“The worst thing we can call somebody is a loss adjuster,” he said, because it sends a message to injured workers that they’re just numbers in need of adjustment. 

“The labels you give people reflect how you think about them,” said East.

But that point extends beyond people. The claims process, for instance, should be reframed as the claims experience, he suggested.

“Dairy products and chopped meat go through processes. People should not be processed,” said East.

It also shifts perceptions when employers stop talking about return to work, and start talking about “recovery while working.”

It was at this point that East presented the concept of “Workers’ Recovery” to the audience. Calling it a “really good idea”, he accurately described some of the anecdotes I have used to make the original argument. No father could not have been more proud of his “child”, and in that moment my Cluttered Desk was the “happiest place on earth”. I appreciate that he gave me full credit for the concept during his presentation, but I was more thrilled that he simply presented and endorsed the idea.

After all, if it is to ever reach fruition, more people need to be talking about it than yours truly.

So, Workers’ Recovery finally hit the big time, and the reviews I’ve heard are very positive. I think it was a very strong step for the concept. It is a simple word that can have an enormous impact. The “Recovery” army appears to be growing, and it will make a difference. 

Workers’ Recovery for the next 100 years. Seriously people, change the name and you will change the culture. I guarantee it.

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