Gearing up for 2022 – Why a person-centred approach is crucial


With the pressures of the pandemic and shifting work environments, many of us would have noticed a change in expectations around how the workplace supports and cares for employees. For many years – across private and public sectors – organisations have tried to put employees first, but as an expectation for this increases, so do the challenges in implementing effective person-centered programs.

As the name suggests, a person-centered program, scheme, or system places the employee at the core of the activity, and while it is a simple concept, in theory, these kinds of programs can be hard to nail. In our work across the large and complex personal injury, professional risk, and public liability schemes, we have spent many an hour tailoring our model for person-centered schemes and seen first-hand the benefits this kind of approach can have on a public sector workforce. From office environments to more challenging schemes to support emergency service workers, we have seen numerous government agencies reap the rewards of putting their people first.

Our team at Gallagher Bassett has shared several key learnings built from years working with government agencies on how to refine and implement a people-first practice:

  1. Prioritise improving partnerships

Claims and workforce management is essentially a partnership between an employer to best support their employee so their employee can best support the organisation in return. In our experience, taking the process back to this basic point is critical for employers seeking to transform services and outcomes in their business. Whether it’s the relationship we have with a regulator, partner employer, or the worker’s local community, a thorough approach must be taken to understand align expectations and knowledge of risks, trend issues, culture and communication style, and preferences. With this deep insight at the core, we can adapt systems, processes, and communicational channels to address the root of any problems and see significant change.

We put this methodology to practice in our delivery of a workers’ compensation scheme for Norfolk Island’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities, and Regional Development. Given the unique geographic location of the Island, we had to take a very considered approach to address the unique characteristics of culture, relationships, location, infrastructure, services, and working arrangements. We spent time on the Island engaging with key stakeholders and the local community to develop a tailored communications plan and engagement process. From advertising in the local paper to segments during the Mayor’s regular local radio program, we created a service model that communicated to both the Government and community in a way they expected and could engage with. Through this proactive and personalised approach, more employees were able to access a broader range of services and benefits

  1. Treat personnel personally

Person-centered schemes and programs are based on the fundamental understanding that the employee is empowered, where they have a say in the goals and services available to them. At the end of the day, we all want to be considered and cared for by our employer, but this requires clear communication and policies, and effective processes. The work and time required to deliver this can be significant, but the benefits often outweigh the initial outlay. To ensure this, we partner with Government Agencies to assist with their business cases and co-design and implement tailored, personalised health and wellbeing strategies that meet the needs and expectations of their employees. This involves early identification of employee profile, environmental and operating risks, and unique requirements of each workforce. Any person-centered program must be appropriately flexible and agile to meet the changing needs of your team. From emergency service workers to government employees in an office-based environment, having the right processes, policies, and return to work specialists will greatly increase the chance of a successful implementation.

For example, when working with emergency service agencies we needed to support a change in culture to reduce the stigma associated with help-seeking. Our program was co-designed with Agencies to encourage and enable employees, volunteers, and their families to improve health literacy, independently educate, seek information, and help. The program sought to empower employees to take ownership of their own health and wellbeing. In personalising the program and tools available to employees, we were able to better meet their needs and reduce claim costs and lost time.

  1. Centralised data and governance management

Data is critical in all aspects of any work, but for government agencies, it is even more pertinent to have centralised and accessible data and reporting. The insights drawn from this will ensure you interpret and apply legislative and regulatory frameworks at all times, maintain compliance and exceed the governance goals you have set for your program. While your person-centered scheme must prioritise your people, it is important to build strong connections with the relevant regulatory bodies for your industry. This transparency and partnership will ultimately ensure the success of the scheme. When we work to improve the regulatory – employer – service provider relationship, we take a disciplined project governance approach, implement open and transparent communication, and set expectations. When this is partnered with a centralised data collection and consolidation model, efficient and accurate action on claims can be made. This leads to a more stable and affordable scheme, with better outcomes for you and your people.  

If you’re interested in learning more about how a person-centered scheme can positively influence change in your organisation, please reach out to me.

Emma commenced her career with ReturnToWork South Australia in 1993. Emma joined Gallagher Bassett in 2013 as GB’s Scheme Account Manager, South Australia, helping to lead GB’s successful South Australian start-up. Since then Emma has been involved in many large government transition projects, including leading the development of GB’s award-winning Northern Territory operation, as well as helping to establish GB’s government operations for Comcare, Norfolk Island, icare NSW, and the Tasmanian DPFEM. Emma was a keynote speaker at the 2021 PIEF Conference where she shared her experience and examined the importance of personalisation in contemporary government insurance schemes.

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