What is at the top of your to-do list in the coming
weeks and months?
PG: “I’ve been busy meeting with our board, our employees and our
customers. I have a fair bit of experience in this industry, but I certainly
don’t have all the answers. That’s why I want to get as much
input as possible from workers and employers as we look for ways
to continuously improve our service. If we all do the best job we can
in preventing workplace injuries, that’s the easiest claim to manage
– the one that doesn’t happen.
Having said that, I acknowledge that injuries continue to happen,
and we know there certainly isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.
Together we need to improve the claims process to make it as efficient
and effective as possible.”
Is that where the WCB’s continuous process
improvement (CPI) initiative comes in?
PG: “That’s certainly part of it. As an organization, we believe that
a culture of CPI enables us to develop and streamline processes to
better meet our customers’ expectations and deliver the service
they need, when they need it. If we work together, we’ll create better
outcomes for everyone.”
“At the highest level, the improvement process itself is fairly
straightforward,” said Stuart Cunningham, the WCB’s vice-president
of human resources and communications. “It’s a matter of
collaboratively identifying and understanding our customers’ frustrations,
working together with our staff and others to develop solutions,
testing those solutions and finally, standardizing the new way.”
How has the continuous improvement
journey impacted the appeals process?
PG: “The appeals process is an important part of our system. It allows
both workers and employers to appeal a decision we’ve made.
By improving and strengthening the decision-making process at the
outset, we create efficiencies, which we hope will mean fewer appeals
in the end. CPI is helping us improve both sides of this process,
the decisions we make as well as the process of appeals.”
Larry Flowers is the employer representative on the WCB Board.
His role includes liaising with employers and bringing their concerns
back to the WCB. He’s also a member of the Board Appeal
Tribunal, the final stage in a three-tier appeal process for workers
or employers to challenge WCB rulings. Appeals are first heard by
a claims manager and then, if necessary, by the WCB’s Appeals department.
If the decision is still unresolved, it can advance to the
Tribunal for a final ruling.
“When I joined the board, there was a backlog in the appeals process,”
said Flowers. “It often took up to a year for an appeal to make
it to the tribunal stage. We’ve worked hard to remove inefficiencies
and now that process is down to 90 days.”
The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of appeals altogether
by enhancing two-way communication and streamlining processes
with workers and employers.
How important is customer feedback and
stakeholder engagement in the continuous
process improvement journey?
PG: “It’s vital for us to continuously hear from our customers to understand
their pain points so we can work to resolve issues.”
The organization refers to its engagement efforts – essentially, the
process of soliciting feedback and incorporating that input – as capturing
the voice of the customer.
Cunningham said the WCB reaches out to customers in a number
of different ways to formally capture their feedback.
“One of our most comprehensive worker/employer surveys is
conducted twice a year,” Cunningham said. “While this feedback is
important, we are also working to identify ways to capture customer
input closer to ‘real time’ as they navigate our system. This will
help us identify opportunities for improvement even more readily
in the future.”
“We’ve heard clearly from workers and employers that they need
information from us in a timely manner, especially when it comes
to processing injury claims,” said Mick Williams, the WCB’s vicepresident
of operations. “We’re committed to doing that while also
helping employers understand that we’re not able to share some
types of personal information, such as a worker’s medical history.
Essentially, we’re trying to disclose as much information to employers
as we can without violating the privacy rights of their workers.
Ongoing communication with workers and employers will help us
process claims more efficiently by helping both sides understand
what is happening and why.”
Specifically, Williams pointed to the plan to consolidate psychological
claim files into one team and work underway to streamline
the process of claims intake as examples of continuous improvement
initiatives that are producing tangible results for workers and
What actions have been taken as a
result of employer feedback?
PG: “We recently launched the Employer Resource Centre (ERC) as
an initiative to help employers navigate the workers’ compensation
system. In fact, the establishment of the ERC is a direct response to
input received from employers through voice of the customer meetings
with WCB executives.”
Kevin Mooney, the WCB’s interim vice-president of prevention
and employer services, said, “Our ERC staff are ready to help employers
answer questions about applying for coverage, how to prevent
workplace injuries, and what to do if an injury occurs. So far,
the feedback has been really positive.”
* * *
As Germain forges ahead, his priorities of enhancing the flow of
communication, responding to feedback and streamlining services
are the steppingstones in achieving the WCB’s vision to eliminate
injuries and restore abilities.
“We want to ensure we’re doing everything possible to care for injured
workers and provide employers the best value possible for the
money they pay in premiums,” said Germain. “That means we need
to collect the best ideas and information to make decisions that give
the most value to the employers who are paying for this system. At
the end of the day, it’s not our money; it’s theirs.”
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BOARD
46 Think BIG | Quarter 4 2019 | saskheavy.ca