Sunday, April 3, 2016

Giving it Back

There are ample opportunities in workers' compensation to feel bad about the system, or the people involved in it. There are many stories in the news about bad actors. There was a recent piece from the Center for Investigative Reporting. It illustrates avarice, and may make you angry. WorkCompCentral describes the report's perspective on "rampant fraud." With each day, there are stories that remind us that there is work to do in workers' compensation. Some of them anger us, others merely depress us. We can do a better job.

In the midst of this "bad news" parade, there are a few promoting the positive aspects of this industry and the incredible people that are involved in it. I pause specifically today to let readers know about two of those efforts. 

The WorkCompCentral team out in California is sponsoring the Comp Laude Awards again this year. It is a little hard for me to believe (time flies), but this will be the fifth annual. The awards will be presented at the annual banquet in Burbank, California next November 4-5. I know, Thanksgiving 2016 seems a long way off to me also, but believe it or not it will be here before you know it. The nomination process is already underway

The Comp Laude awards are intended to recognize inspirational participants in the workers' compensation world, from coast to coast. Nomination categories include "Injured Workers, Doctors, Claims Adjusters, Employers, Insurance Companies, Brokers, Vendors and nearly any other person or company that has been a positive influence in work comp!" The website encourages you to nominate inspirational and exceptional people even if they do not seem to fit a particular category. 

We all know exceptional people in this industry. There are employers who have gone the extra mile. There are employees who have fought back to functionality and success against the longest odds. There are doctors, therapists, adjusters, risk managers, company owners and more who have refused to let their role be defined by others. They have engaged this industry and made it work for the injured worker and employer. They have zealously pursued the ultimate goal of returning the injured worker to gainful employment. 

A second recognition effort is underway a continent away in Florida. The WorkersCompensation.com team has undertaken revival of the "Best Blog" awards. There was a period when Lexis recognized the workers' compensation blogs it perceived as exceptional. Many of the sources I have used for workers' compensation news over the years were among the honorees. In my opinion, there are but a handful of blogs that are authoritative on a particular topic critical to workers' compensation. There are another handful of blogs that provide important national commentary, and a few others with consistent and valuable state-specific import. 

A couple of years ago, the Lexis team decided to discontinue its recognition process. Without the WorkersCompensation.com team, the story of Best Blogs would have ended there. Following a short absence, however, the Best Blogs awards are back. WorkersCompensation.com has been working through March to publicize the existence of the recognitions, and to solicit nominations. Their nomination process closed March 31, 2016. 

It is not an easy task to write a blog. I publish only three days a week, and that is a great effort. For me, it is an outgrowth of the hours I spend each week trying to stay current on the law and the news. But there are those bloggers who post daily, and still others only post sporadically. What they all have in common is that they are making an effort to inform us. The bloggers bring perspective, information, and often much-needed criticism. 

There is no way that we can read all the bloggers. But, we should appreciate the opportunity to read them. We should be grateful that, when we Google topics and questions, we are often blessed with multiple perspectives on a given topic from the inside of workers' compensation. I run into many of these bloggers at programs and conventions. They are bright and focused. We are fortunate to have their perspectives and expertise. The WorkersCompensation.com effort to recognize them is positive and recognizes their contribution to our professional lives. 

These two efforts, Comp Laude and Best Blogs, admittedly have benefits to their sponsors. Both WorkersCompensation.com and WorkCompCentral are news outlets. Both certainly desire people visiting their websites for information, news, data, and more. But at the same time, they could obviously deliver their commercial products without these efforts to recognize positive contributions to the workers' compensation community. I am careful in this post not to promote commercial organizations. And today's post is not promoting these companies, but merely noting two significantly altruistic opportunities for you to recognize others in the workers' compensation industry. These recognition programs are worthy of consideration because there are many in our industry that are worthy of recognition. 

And it is critical that we remember that these efforts have real benefits to the community we call workers' compensation. In recent years, I have been privileged to expand my focus to a national level after spending decades in Florida workers' compensation as a career. 

I have met national leaders in the workers' compensation industry. I have been privileged to be involved in the premier American workers' compensation groups: The National Association of Workers' Compensation Judiciary (NAWCJ), the Workers' Compensation Institute (WCI), the Southern Association of Workers' Compensation Administrators (SAWCA), the College of Workers' Compensation Lawyers (CWCL), the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), the Workers' Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), the Workers' Compensation Claims Professionals (WCCP), SEAK, and others. There are also a multitude of state groups in Florida such as Florida Association of Self-Insureds (FASI), Florida Workers' Advocates (FWA), The Florida Bar Workers' Compensation Section, and more. We need to be thankful for these groups, their leaders, and their efforts. They are striving to build knowledge and share prespective. 

These are merely examples. But the fact illustrated is that there are a great many focused and exceptional people serving this industry. Through their individual efforts and their contributions to these groups, they are moving the industry forward. They are leading, improving, commentating, and more. They may disagree on the specifics of what would make workers' compensation better. That is fair; perspectives can differ. But they all believe that they can make the system and process better. They are striving to promote their own perspective and to make improvements. 

Do you know someone or some company that is doing an exceptional job? Do you know an injured worker that inspires you with her/his resolve, attitude, or accomplishments? Do you know an innovator, leader, motivator, or inspiration? I encourage you to consider nominating them for a Comp Laude award in 2016. We are all better when the best among us receive appropriate recognition for their dedication and efforts. I spoke last year to a nominee. He related to me that it was humbling to have been nominated. A nomination is a great way to tell someone that you respect and value their efforts. 

It is too late to make nominations for the 2016 Best Blog. That deadline was March 31, 2016 and the honorees will be announced in April (my purpose here is not to self-promote either, thus my decision to publish this post-deadline). But now you know about the process, and you know that when the calendar rolls around to the annual "March Madness" of college basketball 2017 it will once again also be time for the annual Best Blogs awards on WorkersCompensation.com. In the meantime, you can always leave a comment on a post and let the author know you appreciate their effort in bringing you a perspective or insight. 

There may be other appropriate ways we can recognize the best and the brightest of the industry we call home. If you know of such a process or opportunity, email me details for inclusion in a future post.

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