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WCRI – Employers’ ideas around work comp

At yesterday’s final session, Publix, Home Depot, and Starbucks work comp leaders had some pretty interesting recommendations around workers comp.

  • Starbucks understands their partners (what they call their workers) don’t do much snail mail, and are much more likely to communicate via smartphones. They’ve done a lot to deliver as many communications and payments to electronic means as possible.
  • Partners tend to trust nurses, so Starbucks uses nurse case managers to help partners deal with the emotional issues as much as the actual medical management (my words, not Ms Olson’s)
  • Publix is working hard to identify the best physicians; as a Florida-centric company, the big grocery chain is often able to direct care – and it does so assiduously. Home Depot also assesses providers.
  • Publix, Starbucks and Home Depot alike have a broad demographic of workers – from kids under 18 to octogenarians. This requires flexible approaches to return to work and a willingness to be creative and thoughtful about accommodations. Sounds obvious – this is a ton of work and very effective.
  • Publix’ Marc Salm is quite concerned about increasing costs due to litigation, which appear to be driven at least in part by “jumper claims” that hit well above six figures within 24 months. To say Marc is passionate about this doesn’t adequately convey how strongly he obviously feels.
  • Noreen Olson of Starbucks noted that she approaches this from a “how do we want this partner to be when this is over” – this is a paraphrase, but the essence is there. She focuses on the ultimate outcome from that individual’s perspective – a view that should be considered at all points of the “claim process.”
  • Home Depot’s Dawn Goree has a similar philosophy – when you pick up the phone, think about how you are going to come across to the person on the other end of the line…trust is critical and it can’t be about dollars and cents.
  • Starbucks does not do “post offer testing” as it has a young workforce and wouldn’t have any employees if it did (Love Ms Olson’s honesty)

What does this mean for you?

A fun, entertaining, and very worthwhile session that reminds us our job is about helping people who’ve been hurt.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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