Leading Your Company Tribe Back to Productivity

I recently read Tribes, by Seth Godin and I found many of his insights relevant to workplace wellness. Here’s how I see the company tribe impacted by an injury.

Humans have a desire to belong. We crave membership in a group and we’ll go out of our way to find it. Groups easily come together around a common goal and if the goal is ambiguous, financial incentives will keep us engaged. With some basic leadership skills a manager can turn this scenario into a success.

On the other hand, it takes effort to break tribal bonds. The cohesion among a group requires force and persistence to break. Dehumanization, de-individuation, and direct threats to a member’s livelihood are tools that have been used to destroy tribes since human history began. Unfortunately, this gauntlet is what many employees must face when confronting a workplace injury.

  • Threatened livelihood: In many organizations, an injury that prevents a member from performing job duties is an overwhelming financial burden. If health care/short-term disability benefits are not available or not affordable, many employees must choose to receive no paycheck or file a workers’ compensation claim. This is often the situation with musculoskeletal disorders.
  • De-individuated: Once an employee has entered the workers’ compensation system, they become a claim number. The adjuster might spend an hour/month on the claim. The provider, forced into high-volume care, will only spend time on reimbursable procedures, not helping a person cope during their recovery.
  • Dehumanized: Once diagnosed, the employee becomes a patient. They learn the vocabulary of a disabled person. They are redefined and forever changed.

The employer is the only stakeholder in the workers’ compensation system who can keep the injured person in the tribe. Without a system to counter the systemic forces above, the tribe will lose valuable members. Fortunately, it is relatively simple to build a system to keep your tribe strong. 3 steps will take you there.

  • Acknowledge the pitfalls in the current workers’ compensation system, and accept the responsibility for managing the changes that come with having employees
  • Know the physical requirements of every job in your organization. Proof:Positive’s ergonomics analyses can help you create a job demand database. This is essential if you wish to help a member cope with an injury.
  • Create a safe environment in which your members can recover and regain their productivity and dignity. The Wellness Room model is a supportive environment, and a better option for treating the injury and member with care.

Leading a member of your tribe back to productivity and full-participation is not difficult. But, you have to have the tools to combat the threats to your members. Contact Proof:Positive and equip your tribe, today.

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