Peta Odgers - Comcare - KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Creating a tailored approach when working with injured workers


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Dr Peta Odgers, Director: Research, Scheme Performance Group, Comcare presented this at the National Workers' Compensation Summit 2014. The Summit focused on minimising workplace injury claims through establishing a successful safety culture and embrace working towards successful outcomes should a workers compensation claim arise.

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Peta Odgers - Comcare - KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Creating a tailored approach when working with injured workers

  1. 1. Tailoring the Way We Work with Injured Workers 15th National Workers’ Compensation Summit 2014 February 2014 1
  2. 2. Purpose • To share some of the insights from Comcare’s research program • To outline two of the key drivers associated with successful recovery and RTW • Resilience and • Trust in Employer • To explore four types of injured workers • To talk about how we might be able to make a difference 2
  3. 3. Comcare Research Program Don’t Forget Quantitative research provides an invaluable insight into why people do what they do. • Comcare’s research program was established to • support informed decision making • provide new insights, and • contribute to the national research agenda • Comcare’s research program with injured workers consists of both • quantitative and • qualitative data collection strategies. • Responses have been collected from: • over 3,700 injured and unwell workers through the Injured Worker Survey, and • over 50 injured and unwell workers and 6 employers through our qualitative research program. 3 It’s a Fact Quantitative research tells us how many people do or think a particular way, while Quantitative research provides us with an insight into why people do what they do.
  4. 4. Factors Influencing RTW Personal Situation Expectations of the Organisation  Demographics  Fairness  Career stage  Safety  Experience  Support, and  Tenure Individual Characteristics  The relative stability of the  Equality  Life stage Relationship with the Organisation  A bully-free environment organisation  How the worker fits into the organisation  The worker’s motivation to get back to work, and  The length of time away 4  Resilience  Empowerment  Self-esteem
  5. 5. Relationship with Employer • Stability of the organisation • Employee Fit • Length of time off work • Good employer relationships help to build • Confidence • Loyalty • Trust 5
  6. 6. Resilience Here’s an Idea Resilience could play a key role in influencing an individual’s recovery from a workplace injury or illness. • Resilience is usually something which refers to someone’s ability: • to “bounce back” or recover from stress, • to adapt to stressful circumstances, • to not become ill despite significant adversity, and • to function above the norm in spite of stress or hardship. (Smith et al., 2008) It’s a Fact The Injured Worker Survey included the Brief Resilience Scale – a validated measure designed to assess individual resilience. Resilience can be influenced both positively and negatively 6
  7. 7. Resilience Comes From … • Some of the factors associated with resilience include: • Supportive relationships • Ability to make realistic plans and carry them out • A positive view of self and confidence in one’s own strengths and abilities • Communication and problem solving skills, and • Ability to manage strong feelings and impulses. Point to Ponder • All of these are important for recovery and RTW 7 How do we build resilience in injured workers with the aim of assisting their recovery and return to work?
  8. 8. Claimant Typologies High Resilience Victims Temporarily Floored Low Resilience 8 High Trust Strivers Low Trust Defensive & Entitled
  9. 9. Strivers  “Go with the flow”… get on with their job and not complain. General Description  Resilient… and able to adapt well to change  Cope… when challenged with illness or injury through work  Flexible… do what they can to adapt and manage the situation to the best of their ability.  Empowered… maintain control over recovery journey  Trust… the organisation will play a role in recovery Key Characteristics  Pragmatic… in their approach  Communicate constructively… with all key parties  Experienced… tend to be in more senior roles  Achievers/“Over-achievers”… sense of pride, very driven  Supported… strong support networks  Ideal group… for successful RTW Potential Transitions  Still vulnerable… can transition towards other less constructive groups depending on the process experience  E.g. if handled poorly by the organisation, potential to fracture the level of trust sending them towards ‘Defensive and Entitled’ typology. 9 “The system is there to get you going while you’re healing – its not meant to be a crutch”
  10. 10. Temporarily Floored  Everyday resilience… cope well with everyday situations, Anchored… strong relationship with organisation & colleagues General Description  Easily destabilised… coping skills are lower than Strivers – especially with unexpected situations  Holistic… focus on recovery and RTW in combination – need to make sure they “stop and take a breath” before RTW  Worriers… concerned that issues will be ongoing Key Characteristics Potential Transitions      Less empowered … than ‘Strivers’ Seek support… trust the organisation, looking for guidance Responsible… accept all requirements of them Self-protecting… want to RTW, but worry about the conditions Middle management… or admin roles, mid-career or close to retirement  Potential… positive organisational management at all stages can empower and shift them to ‘Striver’ territory.  Concern… poor management can lead to break down in trust danger of a shift into ‘Victim’ typology. 10 “You feel helpless, frustrated, and lonely - sometimes you just have to rely on everyone”
  11. 11. Victims  Dependent… generally more reliance on support General Description  Disempowered… if anything goes wrong – it is everyone else's fault and out of their control, they have lower resilience levels  Incapacitated… when things go wrong  Validation seeking… become reliant on the advice of those who sympathise with their problems  Defeated… don’t believe they will RTW or that they will recover  More often associated with mental illness  Mistrust… noticeable lack of trust in the organisation Key Characteristics  Dethatched… don’t appear to want to be involved in recovery  Institutionalised… even agoraphobic  Lower skilled… lower ranked position, less responsibility  Poor support… weaker social networks Potential Transitions  Challenging… to shift into more positive typologies  Organisation can transition them to “Temporarily Floored” with significant understanding, sympathy, flexibility “I don’t believe I will ever work again” 11
  12. 12. Defensive and Entitled  Strong minded… stick up for themselves General Description  Protective… work within boundaries, look after themselves & recovery first  Assertive… quick to learn about entitlements  Cautious… won’t RTW until they feel completely ready  Resilient… in their approach towards return to health over return to work  Personally empowered… to look after themselves – appear in control Key Characteristics  Cynical… low level of trust in the organisation  Self-determined… recover is on their terms – well versed in rights and responsibilities  Reactive… may put up barriers easily – appear less cooperative Potential Transitions  Potential clash… with organisation can detract from sense of empowerment – shifting to “Victim” typology  Potential to shift… to “Striver” if organisation works alongside them, but harder to move them 12 “I said point blank that it would be a graduated return”
  13. 13. Claimant Typologies High Resilience Victims Temporarily Floored Low Resilience 13 High Trust Strivers Low Trust Defensive & Entitled
  14. 14. Keys to Success Understanding Corporate Culture Transparency Foster Value 14
  15. 15. Remember this … • Resilience comes from …: • Supportive relationships • Ability to make realistic plans and carry them out • A positive view of self and confidence in one’s own strengths and abilities • Communication and problem solving skills, and • Ability to manage strong feelings and impulses. 15
  16. 16. Thank you! Dr Peta Odgers Director Research, Comcare For more information please contact: The Comcare Research Team