The inescapable reality is that the investigation of a workers’ compensation claim can be daunting for claimants, employer representatives and witnesses. The Factual Investigator, who is not the decision-maker, enters a complicated situation and starts asking a lot of questions.
People involved in the investigation, in any capacity, may worry about whether they will be believed and what the outcome will be. They may have suffered trauma due to the events preceding the claim or be experiencing isolation and stigma for making or being involved in the claim.
Looking to the end of the process, the decision-maker needs enough evidence, on time, to make a decision that withstands scrutiny.
SO HOW DOES EMPATHY IMPROVE THE INVESTIGATION OF A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM?
Taking an empathetic approach to investigating workers’ compensation matters won’t compromise independence and objectivity. Better evidence-gathering inevitably leads to having more information at the time of decision-making, and investigating with empathy leads to better experiences for those involved.
An empathetic investigation gathers more evidence
- Research shows displays of empathy in investigative interviews build rapport. When people feel understood, they share more openly and honestly.
- Showing empathy through trauma-informed interview practices also maximises the chance of obtaining evidence that may be difficult for a witness to recall or share clearly or chronologically.
“Clarity have always treated our claimants with enormous amounts of empathy and the claimants often say that they were thankful to be heard and have someone assist them to piece their timeline together.” Self-Insurer Client feedback
An empathetic investigation is objective
- Investigating with empathy doesn’t mean an investigator immediately believes every detail provided by every witness, but by putting implicit bias aside (yes, we all have it!) and seeking to understand how every interviewee experienced the events in question and the range of factors involved, we can capture the full story.
“She listened and understood what I was trying to say and gave me the opportunity to rephrase for meaning.” Post-Investigation Survey Data, Employer Feedback
An empathetic investigation limits disturbance in the workplace
- Empathetic investigators are conscious of people’s feelings, their time and the impact of an investigation on their lives. These investigators are flexible and adaptable in their approach.
- A conscientious investigator makes the process smoother and less time-consuming by helping witnesses piece together their story, through reviewing relevant records and conducting an appropriate interview.
- An empathetic investigator will also alleviate unnecessary stress through being transparent and communicative throughout the process.
“She was very easy to talk to, some of my team were quite nervous but she made them feel comfortable.” Post-Investigation Survey Data, Employer Feedback
“The investigator was calming and supportive.” Post-Investigation Survey Data, Employer Feedback
An empathetic investigation builds trust in the organisations involved
- An investigator who communicates (and re-communicates!) the rights and options available to witnesses will demystify a process that they have likely never been involved in before.
- Providing information in writing to witnesses about the process and how their evidence and personal information will be used gives reassurance.
- Investigators, for the brief period they are involved in workers’ compensation claims, become representatives of the insurer (or in the case of self-insurers, the employer). Will the investigator who conducts a personal injury liability investigation on behalf of your organisation hold the same values you do? Will they show care for your employees, customers, or claimants and allow them to feel heard?
“Employees… were nervous and concerned but after talking with the Investigator they understood what was involved and their rights. The Investigator was empathic, understanding and patient.” Post-Investigation Survey Data, Employer Feedback
“The Investigator was a good communicator, explained the process and provided an info form we could provide to the parties being interviewed, which I’ve not seen before and found helpful and professional.” Post-Investigation Survey Data, Employer Feedback
Empathetic workers’ compensation claims investigations lead to better experiences for all involved without compromising objectivity. That makes good business sense!
Clarity Workplace Solutions makes the complex clear through personal injury liability investigations conducted with empathy. Join our Community to gain insights on the management and investigation of workplace issues.
- Download Rely’s Better Workplace Investigations Guide, written by Stephanie Matthews.
- Stigma Towards Injured or Ill Workers
- Consequences of being accused of workplace bullying: An exploratory study, International Journal of Workplace Health Management
- Workplace Bullying: The Perceptions of the Target, the Alleged Perpetrator and the HR Professional: Integrating Stakeholders’ Voices to Improve Practice and Outcomes
- Interactions Between Injured Workers and Insurers in Workers’ Compensation Systems: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Research Literature