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March 22, 2017

Work Comp Cost Control Begins with Hiring and Onboarding

Everyone has heard the phrase “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” penned by the ancient Chinese thinker Lao Tzu.

For employers, keeping workers’ compensation costs under control can feel like a thousand-mile journey, but it also begins with a single step – the crucial hiring and onboarding process.

Why is this process so important for keeping workers’ compensation costs down? Because for years, studies by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and many others have shown that new hires are at much higher risk for injuries and time loss claims than those who have been on the job longer. Why? Bad hires and a lack of training are two prime suspects – even more reason to get the hiring and onboarding process right.

If you want to get your workers’ comp cost-cutting journey started off on the right step, follow these hiring and onboarding best practices:

  1. Create effective job descriptions. Workers who are mentally or physically unable to do the job you hire them for are a risk to themselves and your business. Review all job descriptions to ensure they are an honest representation of the position and accurately define all responsibilities, experience, skills, and education required, as well as your expectations.
  2. Screen applicants thoroughly. Your screening process needs to be as thorough as possible, including pre-screening interviews, careful review of resumes and other documents, checking references, performing background checks, and drug screening. Consider personality screening, which can give you valuable insights into a candidate’s personality traits.
  3. Mind the rules. When conducting background checks and screening, make sure you’re complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), state disability laws, and laws prohibiting retaliation against employees who file workers’ compensation claims.
  4. Conduct engaging interviews. This is your chance to probe into the psyche of each applicant, have a one-on-one conversation with them, and see how they think. Ask engaging questions and pose hypothetical scenarios, and take note of how thoughtfully they respond.
  5. Put it in writing. Every step of the hiring process should be documented and kept on file. Professionally written employment letters are an ideal tool for documenting job offers extended to promising candidates, rejection of unqualified applicants, and welcoming of new hires.
  6. Provide a thorough orientation experience. New hires who go through a structured onboarding process are much more likely to be satisfied in their job, stick around, and be more safety conscious. Get them started on the right foot by welcoming them, introducing them around, and thoroughly familiarizing them with their workstations, tools, supplies, company policies, safety guidelines, and your safety culture.
  7. Provide immediate and ongoing training. New employees should be trained in their duties by an experienced worker, started out in lower-risk situations, and gradually advanced to higher-risk work as they gain knowledge and skills. Reinforcement is vital, so monitor and track their progress, and provide ongoing refresher training.
  8. Keep the lines of communication open. New employees have many questions, so have an open-door policy and be available. Schedule regular progress meetings for the first month to give them a chance to talk about any issues, and provide constructive feedback.

Creating a safe workforce starts at the beginning with your hiring and orientation. By sticking to a thorough, thoughtful, and consistent process, you’re putting yourself in a much better position to foster the kind of work environment that can help reduce injuries and keep your workers’ compensation costs down.

Want more ways to create a safe work environment and cut your workers’ comp costs? Contact the workers compensation insurance professionals at Heffernan Insurance Brokers today. 

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