How to communicate with an injured worker
- Good communication can support better claims outcomes for everyone
- Employer focus should remain on the employee and not on liability
- Regular, transparent, and empathetic communication is key.
Effective communication is an essential tool for employers during a workers compensation claim. It can help support a smoother claims process, better enable an injured worker’s recovery, and ultimately facilitate a more successful return to work.
QBE’s People Risk Behavioural Insights Manager Renae Harris shares her top tips for communication throughout the process.
1. Focus on supporting the employee
The claims experience is often an emotional time for an employee. An injured worker is often facing significant uncertainty and that can be extremely confronting.
That’s why it's essential employers remain focused on providing support, says Harris.
The employer’s primary role is to support their employee's well-being through their recovery and the return to work process. Leave the liability decision up to the insurer, recommends Harris.
Related article: Supporting an injured employee to get back to work in their pre-injury role
2. Build trust with regular and open communication
Regular and transparent communication with an employee is essential throughout the claims process.
Having an initial meeting to start off with and gauging from the employee what their needs are when it comes to communication is key, adds Harris.
“Each person and their situation is different, so communication needs will be different from one case to the next.”
And if an employer commits to contacting an employee at a certain time, make sure that commitment is kept.
This trust can help support a smoother return to work process, says Harris.
"It means we can get all the information required and that everyone is on the same page. This helps us to work together to progress recovery and return to work as quickly and effectively as possible.”
Related article: How can I help during key moments in my employee’s recovery?
3. Tackle difficult conversations with transparency and empathy
Conversations around wages and financial compensation can be difficult. The best way to handle them is with honesty and sensitivity, says Harris.
In some circumstances an employee will not be able to return back to the role they held previously, and that can be a difficult conversation to have, she explains.
"Our QBE Case Managers are available to help if an employer needs advice prior to having a difficult conversation.”
Tackling these conversations with empathy and an understanding of the injured person’s experience is important. Give them the time to talk and ask questions, recommends Harris.
Time and location is also an important consideration when having a difficult conversation with an employee, says Harris. “For example, a public cafe or a staff lunchroom may not be suitable."
It's also important to ensure injured workers understand how the process works and that their wages are calculated in line with the legislative guidelines.
Related article: Understanding rights and responsibilities of workers compensation claims
The QBE team is here to support customers with communication and the claims process more broadly, says Harris, who encourages customers to reach out for help.
“We want to help you understand how effective communication can help drive and improve the outcomes of claims.”