By Paul Binsfeld, president and founder of Company Nurse LLC
This is the first article in a two-part series. You can read Workers’ Compensation Trends of 2021: Part 2, here.
This year has brought challenges for every industry and organization, and opportunities for some. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted business, creating new needs driving innovation, which I expect will continue into 2021.
Here are my predictions for 2021’s workers’ compensation trends and employee health trends and how my team and I are addressing them at Company Nurse.
Employee Mental Health
Since the start of the pandemic, mental wellness in the workplace has dropped by 27% (according to HR services company, Hibob) and signs of employee burnout have jumped 33% (as reported by LinkedIn). So, it’s no surprise that 44% of business leaders have reported declining employee morale (according to Principal Financial Group).
The pandemic and the isolation it created have left employees to deal with depression, possible financial troubles, health worries, burnout, and more.
Company Nurse provides its employees with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Its EAP has several resources for mental health and financial management (which can also support mental health) including webinars, guides, and counseling.
In 2021, mental health resources will continue to be highly critical and employees will expect these resources to be provided by their employers. If you do not have an EAP or similar program in place, it is important that you do so.
If your organization already has an EAP program in place, remind your employees that these resources are available — they may not have known they were available before! Send them updates of new or relevant resources in your EAP so that they can make the most out of the program. The Company Nurse human resources manager sends these announcements through its HR platform’s announcements section so that employees have a consistent process for receiving and later finding these messages.
If your employees are not utilizing these resources, you may need to rethink the programs that you currently offer. Consider having your human resources team send your employees an anonymous survey so that they can express the resources they want and need most.
You can also help your employees manage anxiety spurred by uncertainty by keeping them informed of relevant financial news. Be transparent about the state of your company and the impact any changes may have on their jobs. Sharing this important information to your employees will let them know that they are valued and respected.
It’s important to provide your employees with the resources they need for their well-being and mental health to not only protect your employees, but your organization as well. While it was once difficult for employees to file workers’ comp claims for mental health injuries, legislation is changing that.
According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), in 2020, five
States enacted legislation addressing workers’ compensation coverage for mental injuries. Another 16 states considered, or are considering, mental injury legislation in 2020. Each state has its own definitions of what constitutes as a mental injury covered by workers’ compensation and what types of workers are covered. According to the NCCI, several states passed legislation to cover PTSD incurred by first responders.
I foresee such legislation will continue to rise in 2021, especially considering the toll events of this year have taken on employees’ well-being.
In addition, I predict that physical injury claims will take into consideration the effect of mental health on these claims. Biological, psychological, and social evaluations can help to better understand and predict the outcome of physical workplace injuries. These evaluations take into consideration factors such as environment, life events, addiction, and more.
Providing robust mental health resources can both help your employees and act as a preventative measure to help to mitigate these claims.
Nurse Triage and Telemedicine
A growing desire for virtual care makes telemedicine essential for organizations. In fact, the NCCI reports that telemedicine use in workers’ comp increased from less than 1% before this year to about 14% by the second quarter. And pairing telemedicine with virtual 24/7 nurse triage allows for workers to have a seamless telehealth experience.
Having access to nurse triage immediately after a workplace injury means employees can get the care they need, when they need it. Company Nurse is working on a video triage option to make the process even more personable and to further improve its care capabilities.
At Company Nurse, 40% of triaged injuries are addressed with self-care. This helps employees avoid clinics and the ER, where they could be exposed to COVID-19 and other viruses. Company Nurse can also triage to telemedicine, when appropriate. So, if the employee does need to see a doctor, they may be assessed by a virtual physician in a telemedicine visit.
For general health (non-work-related injuries or illnesses), telemedicine is likely available for your employees. Again, this can help your employees avoid potential exposures at clinics and ERs, while still getting the care they need.
Encourage employees now, during the crisis, and beyond to utilize these services. Consistently remind employees that resources are available and provided as benefits.
Want to learn how screen by Company Nurse can further help your organization address COVID-19 and prepare for 2021? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note: You should keep screening records separate from employee files and consult with legal counsel when implementing screening, testing, and/or vaccination management.
You can read Workers’ Compensation Trends of 2021: Part 2, here.