There should be absolute cohesion between the employee, their job task, and their workstation. If you've ever consulted before in ergonomics than you might've noticed that some of your prospects are interested in ergonomics, however before they're ready to start they require our assistance to ''put out fires'' first - some of which may require "non-ergonomic" solutions.
This is why I’ve put together this 2-part series about “non-ergonomic” deliverables you can provide to your clients that are still somewhat aligned with your experience in ergonomics. In the first part of the series, I’ll be talking about the customer journey and how you can relate ergonomics to that. I’ll also be sharing with you a few service deliverables that you can offer which aren't necessarily ergonomics but are still aligned with what we do as Ergonomics Professionals.
Our prospects can be in different stages of readiness for our services. So sometimes, when looking to start building a relationship with our clients, we must help put out some fires first before they’re ready to invest in the services that we love doing, such as ergonomic risk assessments.
These fires could mean dealing with return-to-work programs, workers’ compensation claims, or other employee management issues. And only when our client is at a certain stage of readiness would be the perfect time to put in place an ergonomics program. But wouldn't it be great if we have services that can fill those gaps and solve the employer’s challenges? Well, I’m here to say that we definitely can. Our expertise will be needed in providing effective recommendations that will help reduce workers’ compensation costs and resolve other fires. There’s many opportunities in assisting employers solve those types of issues. I’ll be sharing with you below several service deliverables that will help fill those gaps.
But before that, I hope that you can see the value of building that know, like, and trust factor in our communities and cities. By doing so, they’ll know who to call to help solve their challenges and concerns before they develop. This is often what many ergonomics consultants miss when trying to break into a new market. Many organizations out there aren’t aware of what you're capable of and how you can help them.
Sometimes, resolving certain challenges in one aspect of the job will open up the possibility of more ergonomic assessments.
Take, for example, a typical warehouse distribution center. They have the more demanding jobs in the back of the house (shop floor) compared to the clerical support in the front. If there’s an issue regarding workplace injuries or return-to-work, that’s the main issue that must be solved first before the organization would ever think to incorporating prevention strategies that include ergonomics!
A workplace injury may be an appropriate call to action that will get us through the door of doing more of what we love doing, whether it’s ergonomic assessments or other types of services.
So what solutions can you offer to the employers in those situations? How can you urge them to move forward with you? Well, that’s where the whole idea of customer journey comes in.
A customer journey is a visual outline of every touchpoint your client has with your services. I’m going to take you through a typical customer journey for you to see what services you can provide. I think it makes the most sense to start this journey when an injury happens at work. Normally, what happens next is that a Workers’ Compensation Claim would likely be opened. That employee would probably seek treatment from the hospital or their treating practitioner. The employer has to take several steps when filing a workers’ comp claim, including completing a claim form, submitting official paperwork, and keeping in touch with that employee.
The next thing that could happen is that there could be a Time Loss or a No Time Loss Claim. A workplace injury is labelled as Time Loss if the person missed work due to the injury, or the person didn’t miss work but earned less pay (as a result of reduced work hours). These types of claims are inherently more expensive than No Time Loss, especially if that person is away from work for more than a week.
Another thing that I want to talk about is the workers’ compensation role. When a worker took time off following an injury, developing a Return-To-Work Plan is essential to help them go back to their work with little disruption. Creating an effective Return-To-Work Program can also help reduce the amount of the claim. In most cases, there's a really big emphasis on an early and safe return to work.
Below are some “non-ergonomic” services that are in line with what you could offer. Although these services are more reactive, these are service opportunities that you can definitely leverage when a workplace injury occurs.
When there’s an injury, the Workers’ Compensation Board would most likely want to know the physical parts of the job so they can determine if it's actually a workers’ compensation claim or if it's something that happened off the job. To make that decision, they want to make sure they have all the content and the material. That's where the Physical Demands Analysis comes into place. This is a document of all the job tasks and the physical demand requirements for a position. Some employers may already have a file of these so they probably just need to be updated due to some job changes. However, there's also the possibility that there's just no Physical Demands Analysis at that job either, and that’s where we can provide value with our background.
The next thing that I want to talk about is what happens next to that injured worker. So the injured worker would probably go to their treating practitioner or to the hospital to receive treatment. That injured worker would likely need to get their functional capabilities reviewed before they can safely return to work. They can either do this from their treating healthcare professional if they do a holistic review of their capabilities, or they might need to do a Functional Capacity Evaluation. This is another valuable deliverable that you can offer. It’s a series of tests used to examine the employee’s work-related physical abilities.
The next thing we can provide value on is whether or not the worker needs some sort of accommodation, so you're basically doing a job match here. If that person needs an accommodation, that's another service that you can offer. You can help determine if there's a match, and then make any modifications to that job to ensure that the worker can return to work in a timely and safe manner.
The last service deliverable that I'm going to talk about is the Post Offer Employment Testing. This particular service is gradually becoming more and more popular because it's a cost-saving measure. With the physical aspect of the job being considered a lot, some employers like to limit the cost of workers’ compensation by investing in this service. A specific test is developed to ensure that those people going for that job can actually do the particular physical aspects of it. So this service goes hand in hand with the Physical Demands Analysis.
However, there’s a caveat with Post Offer Employment Testing. I definitely have my own issues and concerns with it. Some jobs are well-suited into a POET program and others just don’t, you'll learn more about the reasons why in Part 2!
And that’s it for Part 1! I've done all of these types of services before and I can say that I really brought a good contrast into what I can offer. There’s value in understanding this entire customer journey for the reason that it really gives you a clear snapshot of where you can offer value.
For the second part of this episode, I'll be giving specific details about the Functional Capacity Evaluation, Physical Demands Analysis, and Post Offer Employment Testing. I hope that you see how this customer journey really turns out, where the opportunity is for ergonomic services, and what you may need to do to get that client up to a level that they're ready to focus on a more proactive or prevention side.
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