By Luke Harrison, Managing Director, Marsh Advisory ,
06/16/2022 · 5 min read
Worker shortages continue at companies across industries, with an imbalance in labor demand versus supply in what has been described as the tightest job market since World War II. Retailers, restaurants, and food and beverage companies are struggling to fill vacant positions, while getting injured workers back to work continues to be a major challenge.
A record number of employees — close to 48 million — quit their jobs in 2021. At the same time, data collected by Marsh shows that the turnover rate at claims administrators has gone up by more than 50% in the past year.
And even when third party administrators (TPAs) are able to hire new people, in many cases there has been a significant loss of experience, increasing the time needed to review cases. While adjusters have the tools and training to calculate benefits, many lack the experience to effectively negotiate settlements with injured workers, increasing the case backlog and often delaying the injured workers’ return-to-work.
But the pandemic-era “great resignation” is only one issue affecting injured employees’ return to work. The early months of the pandemic saw many elective medical procedures postponed either by healthcare organizations that needed to focus on COVID-19 patients or by injured workers who wanted to reduce their exposure to the virus. This led to injured workers returning to health at a slower pace than they would have if they had received necessary care — such as surgery or physical care — in a more timely manner. These delays amplified workforce shortages.
Further, the shutdown of courts as COVID-19 cases peaked led to a backlog of workers’ compensation cases, prolonging the timeline to resolve cases and get injured employees back to the workplace.
The timely resolution of workers’ compensation cases that allow for the return of employees — either to full or modified duties — is critical at a time when retailers, restaurants, and food and beverage companies are dealing with significant worker shortages. Consider the following three actions to reduce workplace injuries and help injured employees get back to health and able to return to their duties:
As new variants of the COVID-19 virus emerge, there is concern of a significant wave of infection in the fall and winter, with a forecast of 100 million potential coronavirus infections in the cold-weather months. Considering that this is typically among the busiest periods for retailers, restaurants, food and beverage companies, senior leaders should take the necessary action to address pending workers’ compensation cases and return employees to the workplace.