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Can Job Design Reviews Offer Risk Management Benefits?

Many risk management professionals including senior managers, claim adjusters, attorneys, safety, human resource, and other management professionals utilize job designs and related descriptions for clarity about a person’s capability to work in a specific job function.  Can they be applied more effectively for risk, safety and claim management?

Job design is a core function of human resource management, and designs are utilized for positive organizational effectiveness and employee well-being.  Ideally, a job design will satisfy the successful completion of tasks of the organization while appropriately utilizing the skills and experience of the worker.  A worker’s job satisfaction and performance will also be enhanced with a successful job design.  As technological enhancements are introduced into the workplace, job designs should be kept up-to-date for enhanced productivity, growth and well-being of the organization and worker.

But what if someone is hurt and unable to successfully complete the tasks contemplated in their job design?  Are they simply tossed aside and replaced by another worker?  What happens to the morale of the injured worker and their colleagues?  Is the culture of the organization enhanced?  An unfortunate incident doesn’t need to derail the goals of the organization and worker.

Immediately upon knowing about an incident involving a worker, a team of professionals from human resources, risk, claim, safety and other management disciplines should consult the specific job design for possible modifications.  A “return to work” objective should be contemplated.  Some reasons for this approach include:

  • Lower Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs – Evidence has shown that there is only a 50% chance that an injured employee will return to work after a six-month absence. After one year out of work, the likelihood of the person returning to work is 25%, and after two years out of work the probability of returning to work is only 1%.  A modified job design and return to work (RTW) program reduces costs.
  • Enhanced Workplace Morale and Positive Employee Outcomes - Early connections with the injured employee to understand the injury and rehabilitation process helps to alleviate many of the concerns, fears, and frustrations experienced by the work team and the employee following a workplace injury. Modified job designs may then be taken into consideration for all the factors necessary for continued organizational and employee success.
  • Organizational and Workplace Stability - All stakeholders coming together in an integrated and enhanced manner focusing on the job design will improve communication and clarify the roles and responsibilities of each individual involved in helping the injured worker to return to work, and stay at work. In those situations where the person will not be able to return to work in the short or long term future, focusing on the job design will enable the supervisors to find the necessary skills and experience to fulfill the injured person’s tasks.

Effective management of job designs will reduce organizational costs and improve outcomes.  It is incumbent upon management to review this subject periodically, and focus on it immediately following any worker related incident.  For more information about our programs, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Blackburn Robert

By Robert J. Blackburn, Managing Principal, Blackburn Group, Inc., contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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