Converting the CEO to the Cause of Workers’ Compensation

With employers addressing ObamaCare and rising health care costs, persuading the CEO to make safety and workers’ compensation priorities might be a challenge.Paul-Preaching

But you know workers’ compensation is also important and you need the CEO’s support. I explained this in last week’s blog, which you can find here.

Your goal is be an evangelist to convert your CEO to the cause of workers’ compensation. Evangelizers are passionate about what they believe. Therefore, you need to passionately believe that employing best practices are good for employees and the organization as a whole.

Why must CEOs be converted to the cause of workers’ compensation? Because it is not enough to get the CEO to express the best crafted messages in all the appropriate internal and eternal communication vehicles.

Unless the CEO is a believer too, all you will get is lip service. That’s bad because lip service kills employee credibility and trust. Your CEO might need reminding that he or she will look really good by showing care about workers.

Convincing the CEO to support safety and workers’ compensation often means building a business case. You want to address why the CEO should care when he or she is mired in endless electronic interruptions.

Get beyond workers’ compensation as
just an insurance cost or legal mandate.
Show it as the opportunity it could be.


To do so, try discussing workers’ compensation from a new perspective. Get beyond workers’ compensation as just an insurance cost or legal mandate. Show it as the opportunity it could be. Like other benefits, workers’ compensation can be used to show that the organization is concerned for their employee’s welfare. Effective workers’ compensation programs also address absenteeism.

Another way is to discuss workers’ compensation as a litmus test for employee satisfaction and morale. This is based on the idea that if there are troubles with workers’ compensation, chances are there are also problems with other human resources issues including high turnover or equal employment opportunity, sexual harassment or Americans with Disabilities Act complaints.

When CEOs understand that workers’ compensation is part of the systemic whole  — and not just another cost of business expense  — they should see more reason to act.

As for building a business case, demonstrate the costs and lost opportunities due to unsafe workplaces, claim filing lag time, poor medical care and lack of return-to-work opportunities. The direct costs can be compelling enough, but indirect costs – including training productivity and opportunity costs — up the ante of the true expense of employee absence.

You can get average percentage guesstimates of these costs from organizations including the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), the National Council of Compensation Insurance, Inc., and the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI). Become a member of WCRI or IBI and find even more data – and yes, tell them I sent you!

Another approach is to profile three types of “average workers,” explaining the costs of hiring, training, productivity and other value such employees brings to the organization.

Don’t forget to point out how assuring best practices for workers’ compensation does more than encourage employee morale. These practices also support the organization’s corporate culture and doctrine of excellence, which are of course reflected in the organization’s business plan, mission and vision statements, company philosophy, strategic plan and any other corporate documentation.

And finally, do not give up. Spend time trying to change the culture as much as you can. Discuss your points whenever you get the chance from the water cooler to the boardroom.

If you have other suggestions for making the business case for workers’ compensation or other organizations where employers can find data, please comment below. Thanks!

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How Companies Get Client Leads

Wonder if you are wasting your time on social media? Well, it turns out that LinkedIn is effective for generating leads and blogs do help as well! Great blog post by Hubspot!graph-3

Great Workers’ Compensation Programs Start at the Top,9225966,9225966

Some of my most popular blogs cover workers compensation. While in the process of writing future blogs, one central element occurred to me.

It is this: A program can only go so far without a strong CEO who supports it. Period. This applies to everything from workers’ compensation to social media.

There is no way around this. Regardless of what you do, you will only get so far without the blessing of the Big Boss. But you need more than that. You need the organization’s leader to be the ultimate cheerleader for improving safety, getting workers to file claims early and return-to-work programs.

When I was a reporter at BNA’s Workers’ Compensation Report in the 1990s, I covered exceptional safety, workers’ compensation and return-to-work programs.

Regardless of what you do, you will only get so far without the blessing of the Big Boss.

Finding good comp-related programs was not easy. So I focused on companies with reputations for being well run. My logic was simple. Excellent workers’ compensation programs tended to be a sign of well managed companies in general.

Park-Ohio’s CEO Ed Crawford came to mind. I wrote about Ed when I was a reporter for Small Business News, now Smart Business, in Cleveland.

Ed had a reputation in the Forest City for transforming large dinosaur manufacturing companies with a strong union presence into modern companies.

To transform Park-Ohio, he started the “attitude” campaign. The idea was clear. How management and labor work together depends on their attitude. After outlining what it meant at Park Ohio, he and his employees wore metal pins that read, “ATTITUDE.” So inspired, I requested a pin and still have it nearly 20 years later.

Safety and workers’ compensation, like anything else in the workplace, depends on the attitude of management and employees. Ed’s example impressed upon me that workers’ compensation does not happen in a vacuum.

Show me a company with a lousy workers’ compensation program and I will show you one with piles of Equal Employment Opportunity, sexual discrimination, Americans with Disabilities Act and other human resources complaints. These are all symptoms of a poorly managed organization.

My blog will continue to offer ideas for improving workers’ compensation. But these suggestions always assume that workers’ compensation managers have the support they need to make positive change. Without it, there is only so far you can go.

I believe there are many excellent workers’ compensation professionals trying to improve their companies’ workers’ comp program but to little avail. They find it difficult to convince their bosses that more resources are needed to improve safety and all other workers’ compensation-related efforts. In next week’s blog, I will offer suggestions on how to do just that.

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Why Charles Ramsey Is My Hero

Charles Ramsey hero shirts for $20. Proceeds are for the victims. Visit

Charles Ramsey hero shirts for $20. Proceeds are for the victims. Visit

Charles Ramsey is my hero. It’s not just because he and other brave neighbors freed three kidnapped women and a little girl who lived in the hellacious prison of Ariel Castro’s Cleveland home.

Though that alone would cover it.

It’s because I see more truth and character in him than in many of the privileged and powerful.

I grew up in Euclid, a mostly working class white neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side. Euclid borders Richmond Heights, where Ramsey lived, though he attended Brush High School. Being the first one in my family to get a college education, my journalism degree paved the way for me to become a Cleveland reporter and radio talk show host for the former AM-1300 WERE. For personal reasons, I moved to the Washington, D.C. area and found myself a fish out of Lake Erie among the Potomac River’s privileged and powerful.

A class act, Ramsey is far richer than many of the powerful and privileged. Ramsey has his integrity. He is bold, candid and a breath of fresh air. His language may offend the sensitive, but he speaks truth.

He does not offend me. I would rather hear his slang than live where people walk on eggshells for fear of speaking truth. Our government is reluctant to call the Boston bombing or the shooting at Fort Hood acts of Jihadist terrorism, but you cannot fool Cleveland. Clevelanders unapologetically call something what it really is. The logic is clear: How can you address a problem without honesty?

In rescuing Castro’s victims, Ramsey said he only did what anyone would do. In this, he assumes that most of us value and exhibit true character. But unlike heroes like Ramsey, too many of us are just too chicken to get our hands dirty. But heroes will and do. They have the innate qualities to overcome the idol of self-preservation that ignores the suffering often close to us.

And for his heroic act he will not accept reward money. A dishwasher for a downtown restaurant who lives in a west side working class neighborhood, no doubt he could use the extra bread. In an interview with Anderson Cooperhe said the only thing before for the rescue that kept him up at night was not having enough money. Now he can’t sleep because he feels bad that the victims were next door and he did not even know it.

Given that Cleveland has had a depressed economy with double-digit unemployment for years, he is grateful he even has a job.

And while I suspect his life has not been an easy one, he recognizes that it does not compare to the hell these women have suffered.

A class act, Ramsey is far richer
than many of the powerful and privileged.

While to some, he lacks some social graces, Ramsey has more class than some of the educated reporters and commentators who have covered this story.

During an interview with Ramsey, George Stephanopoulos mentioned he attended Orange high school. What Ramsey full well knew and understood is that George’s alma mater was a high school of the privileged. Ramsey could have pointed out that his Cleveland is very different than George’s. He had the class to resist the “I can’t relate,” kind of comments. Instead, he joked about the high schools being rivals, but that’s all right.

My suspicion is the only things these two have in common are a shared passion for the Indians, Browns and Cavs.

Ramsey certainly has more class than the sports commentators I heard last week on FM-WJKF 106.7. They joked that everyone shown from Ramsey’s neighborhood were missing at least one tooth. Even though they acknowledged Ramsey’s heroism, such negative comments were untrue and in bad taste.

When the media revealed that Ramsey had a criminal history of domestic violence, Ramsey did not freak. Not missing a beat, he acknowledged his past and pointed out ways he is trying to improve his life.

While the media outlet that revealed Ramsey’s past apologized, the journalist in me wonders why. Had the media not reported it, would they have been accused of not telling Ramsey’s whole story? How would Ramsey’s ex-wife have felt?

I am further inspired because he has the guts to face himself. From the revelation, we learned more about the man and witnessed his personal courage. Those who squarely face their issues and make steps to improve are heroes.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Ramsey told the Washington Post over the weekend he was actually suspended from work last week after rounds of ammo from an AK-47 fell out of his pocket when he leaned over.
Now you can find a sandwich named after him at Hodges restaurant.

Blogs are supposed to be short. Ramsey deserves more words than I offer here. His honesty, courage, humility, and selflessness are just some reasons why Charles Ramsey is my hero. If you agree, please share this blog.

And consider buying a “Charles Ramsey Cleveland Hero” t-shirt. The proceeds are for the victims.

Why I am Never Buying a Dell Product Again!!!

Dell_Sucks_by_Wolverine080976Once upon a time, small businesses relied on Dell Computers. Once offering excellent products, it was hailed for its customer service  — 10 years ago.

But now, Dell’s products are worse than anything that ever came out of Yugoslavia. Dell’s “customer service” rivals any government bureaucracy in the free world.

I write part-time as a sole proprietor. When something goes wrong, I have to deal with it directly. This takes away valuable opportunity costs. When I should be building a customer base, providing services and otherwise being productive, I have spent countless hours dealing with the nice Dell contractors whose English is still a work in progress.

I bought a printer in July. It was $500 and a huge investment given my annual income as a part-time writer. At first, during the 30-day period I had to return the machine and get my money back, it worked fine.

Dell’s “customer service” rivals any government bureaucracy in the free world.

But if anything happens after that magic 30 days, forget ever getting your money back. Not long after I bought the printer, Apple updated its software and the scanner quit working.

Did Dell honor its customers by updating the software? No. Instead, Dell’s tech support advised me to “keep checking” for updates yet to happen nearly five months later.  The techies gave me two “work-arounds” until then. The FAX part does not work correctly either, so I can only fax items but cannot send them.

Now the print tray also needs to be “worked around.” When I hired an outside consult to fix the printer, he explained that there is something mechanically wrong with the tray so it gives a false error message. The only thing I can do is pull out and then push in the tray every time I print. This is unacceptable for a printer less than a year old.

So I called today, explained how I have patiently tried to adapt to all this unreasonable silliness. I told them I have lost far more money in lost work than in the price of the printer and the least and honest thing Dell should do is accept the defective product and return my money.

It turns out I would have done better putting the $500 in my bank account even though it barely pays interest, which is gets eaten away by taxes anyway.

Both gentlemen politely read from the same script explaining Dell’s third-world return policy. Translation: Buyer Beware! Get a lemon from Dell and you are stuck.

Apparently, the one-year warrantee on the product gives me the privilege of bonding with my new best friends in India and Bangladesh for free. After this, I can buy an extended warrantee to pay for the privilege.

I should have known better. The laptop I bought in 2009 was a dud and a computer friend of mine could not resolve the issues despite endless Dell tech support time. It was never as reliable as the one I bought in 2005 or the two PCs I bought in 2003 and 2007.

We often blame government for being hard on small business. But companies like Dell make a profit at dishonoring trusting customers.

I am not alone. The Internet is a bastion of ignored pleas for Dell help. If Dell will come to its senses and help me, I am happy to sing its praises like I did TurboTax in a former blog.

Burned by Dell? Like the “Dell Sucks” Facebook page at

P.S. My HP 1320, which I bought 10 years ago, and my HP 9800, which I bought six years ago, work great! They just don’t scan or FAX, just like my new Dell four-in-one! Thank God for my old reliable HP printers!

Cutting through the weeds: Business Lessons from the Garden

Gardening can teach a lot about business. As I dug out the weeds and built my new garden, I thought of many parallels.



Here are some of them:

1)   Know your stuff…or dirt. To be successful in business, strive to be a master in your field. Successful gardeners realize a thriving plot requires more than dirt, seeds and water. Plants also respond better to the right mix of nutrients. Knowing your stuff produces better yields.

2)   Have a vision. Successful gardeners have a vision on how their gardens will look from spring through fall. This is also the same for successful business people. They are leaders. They have the vision on where they are going and why. To quote Jack Welch, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

3)   Have a plan. As I discuss in a previous bloggoing forward in business without a plan leaves results to chance. It reminds me of people who buy plants they like and just plunk them anywhere.

4)   Have a plan B. The garden I planned looked perfect on paper until I started planting. There just was not enough room. Lacking the time to build a larger garden this year, I am putting the section that did not work out in pots instead. Pots are also nice because you can move them around in the growing season to get the best results.

5)   Never stop learning. Master gardeners do not know everything. They are still learning as new techniques come online. Make it a point to keep investing in education and training, especially because technology is constantly changing how we work.

6)   It is OK to get dirty. Actually, that is part of the fun! Too many executives run the show without taking the time to do line jobs or talk to those who do. Often, this results in a disconnect between the executive and the practicalities of actually doing the work.


Competitors are like weeds around the garden.
They will encroach upon your space at the first opportunity.

7)   Stay in your niche. I see people at the garden centers act like kids in the candy store. They overbuy plants without anticipating the attention they will need. Do not branch out until you know your existing field really well and can afford to start planting something new.

8)   Experiment. At the same time, do not be afraid to try new things in a deliberate manner while not losing sight of your niche.

9)   Pay attention to the signs of trouble. Maintaining a healthy workspace is like having a healthy garden. Pay attention to signs to signs of dysfunction. For the gardener, insect damage is a sign of not paying attention. The same is true for executives who would rather live in denial or hope things will work out. Few things work out themselves without intervention.

10) Know your competition. Competitors are like weeds around the garden. They will encroach upon your space at the first opportunity. Just as a good garden has an extra buffer zone around it to protect it from encroaching weeds, you must constantly monitor your competitors. Believe me, they are watching you.

Opening A Window Into Health Care’s Future

Cover of Leader's Edge magazine, May 2013

Cover of Leader’s Edge magazine, May 2013

Technology promises amazing innovations that can support longer and healthier lives. But what will it cost us as individuals and as a society?

I gave these issues a look for the award-winning Leader’s Edge magazine. It is the cover story for the May issue.

Called “Fully Exposed,” my article walks readers through exciting technological innovations including body monitoring, telemedicine, DNA sequencing, and even growing replacement organs. Taking a view into the future is really exciting.

These technologies are evolving just as the nation’s health care system is being turned upside down. ObamaCare, sources say, will lead to a two-tier health care system that will place high-tech, cutting edge medicine out of reach for more of the middle class. Americans are just beginning to find out how ObamaCare will really affect them.

Truly, our society has some soul searching to do.

Americans will also find out how much health care really costs. We have been getting a bargain, paying less in co-payments than the cost of taking the family out for dinner. We can expect to pay much more out of pocket for our own care and higher taxes for everyone else’s.

Then there are ethical questions. Just because science provides new opportunities does not mean it is good for society to take them. A genetic family tree can help prevent and cure diseases, but even U.S. history has examples of eugenics. Truly, our society has some soul searching to do.

I intend to explore these issues in greater detail in future blogs. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my article! Please feel free to comment on it as well.

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