10 tips for a healthier workplace

Keeping Texas workers safe requires a foundation in wellness. At Texas Mutual, this is what we have put into practice for our own employees, and what we encourage for our policyholders. With healthy employees in your workforce, you can expect lower health care costs, increased productivity, and less absenteeism. We discussed these benefits in detail in Combining Work and Wellness for Healthier, More Productive Employees.

dumbbell and apple with measuring tapeFor every $1 you spend on wellness, you can get up to $3 savings on costs associated with health. Whether you launch a robust workplace wellness program or simply make small improvements along the way, there are numerous small changes you can introduce to help improve the health of your workforce. To help you get started, take a look at 10 ways you can start today:

    1. Stay hydrated. Dehydration can make employees feel groggy, cranky, and hungry. Encourage employees to rehydrate by providing water coolers, offering reusable water bottles customized with your company’s logo, or keep the refrigerator stocked with water.
    2. Take stretching or walking breaks. Encourage employees to give their muscles the attention they need, especially if they are working physically demanding jobs. Stretching reduces stress and helps break up the day so that employees are more productive, and walking is a good way for office workers to stay active throughout the day.
    3. Offer flu shots on site. Getting a flu shot reduces your risks of contracting the illness and can keep your employees from missing work. If covering the cost of flu shots is not in the budget, consider offering a discount, or give employees tips on when and where they can get a flu shot on their own.
    4. Stock up on hand sanitizer and tissues. Having these items readily available help to prevent spreading germs and sickness.
    5. Swap out the candy bowl for fresh fruit. The US Department of Agriculture’s “Choose My Plate” website recommends most adults consume about 2 cups of fresh fruit daily. Help employees get theirs in with free apples, oranges and bananas.
    6. Start a fitness challenge. Bring healthy competition to the workplace with a low-cost fitness challenge. Visit 7 Simple, Fun Wellness Challenges to Start at Work for ideas.
    7. Provide health screenings. A wellness screening can identify potential health concerns by checking blood glucose levels, blood pressure, Body Mass Index (BMI), and cholesterol. Motivate employees to improve their results with an incentive such as a gift card, catered lunch, or raffle prize.
    8. Help your employees quit tobacco. The American Cancer Society offers a Fresh Start program, a group-based tobacco cessation support program for workplaces.
    9. Get active with a local gym. Reach out to a local gym about offering discounted membership rates to your employees. Local gyms often provide lower rates in exchange for new members.
    10. Keep the sickness at home. Spreading germs is not worth the risk of making others sick. Make sure that employees who are ill and contagious stay home to recover.

Implementing one of these 10 tips can help you get started with wellness in your workplace or expand your current program. For more resources, call the Texas Mutual safety services team at 844-WORKSAFE (967-5723) or visit texasmutual.com

Combining work and wellness for healthier, more productive employees

Workplace safety is important for preventing injuries and keeping claims costs low, but there’s much more to the equation. The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine estimates that employee obesity costs U.S. employers $73.1 billion annually in medical costs and lost productivity. This expense can be minimized by building a foundation of wellness and promoting a healthy lifestyle in your workplace.

In fact, for every $1 you spend on wellness, you can get up to $3 in savings on health-related costs. Take a look below at why wellness is one of the best investments you can make.

Wellness pays

Reduce workers’ compensation costs.  Your employees likely spend at least 40 hours a week at work, which means that creating a healthy environment for them is key. A 2007 study of Duke University employees showed obesity had a significant effect on the cost and duration of workers’ compensation claims. The Duke report found that obese workers filed twice the number of workers’ compensation claims, had seven times higher medical costs from those claims, and lost 13 times more days of work from  injury or illness than did non-obese workers.

To help fight this issue, educate your employees on body mass index (BMI) rates. Invite a nutritionist or fitness trainer to lead the training to discuss healthy BMI rates and steps your employees can take to get into the normal range.

Lower employer health care costs. Unhealthy employees can increase health care costs for a company. A study from the University of Michigan suggests that unhealthy lifestyle conditions like smoking, stress, or obesity account for one out of every four dollars employers spend on health care. The above mentioned Duke University study found the average medical claims costs per 100 employees were $51,019 for the obese compared to just $7,503 for the non-obese.

Increase worker productivity. The Harvard Business Review cites a 2009 study by Dr. Ronald Loeppke, which found that lost productivity costs are 2.3 times higher than medical and pharmacy costs. Health conditions like depression, anxiety, migraines, respiratory illness, arthritis and diabetes, among others, can contribute to lost productivity. Integrating exercise opportunities into the workday can make a difference. Encourage employees to take short breaks to stretch or walk, or offer an onsite fitness class like yoga for employees to attend.

Prevent employee absenteeism. Providing incentives for employee well-being encourages the improvement of an employee’s overall health and often results in less required sick time. A wellness program can help employees improve their health, which may reduce the number of missed work days. For example, low back pain is the leading contributor to missed work days according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Walking and stretching can help alleviate back pain for chronic sufferers and may reduce the number of days away from the office.

Wellness programs provide employees with tools to reduce health risks and the knowledge to make healthier choices. A wellness program can also lower stress in the workplace, improve health and morale, increase company loyalty and help you to recruit potential employees. If you’re ready to gain the benefits of combining work and wellness, visit worksafetexas.com/wellness for tips on getting started, and watch for 10 tips for a healthier workplace on the blog next week.

 

Celebrating this year’s dividend payout

This year, Texas Mutual awarded almost 50,000 business owners with dividend checks in a company-record $260 million dividend payout. Dividends are a way for us to reward safety-conscious employers, and we’re proud to have done so for 19 consecutive years. Take a look at some of this year’s dividend recipients in the slideshow below.

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Dividends can be used to help offset workers’ comp costs, re-invest into safety equipment and training, or just give a boost to your bottom line. However you choose to utilize your dividend, we love hearing your dividend stories. Be sure to share with us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, and use #TXMDividends.

Qualifying policyholders are rewarded dividends based on two components: safety and loyalty. Take a look at the dividend video below to see how the dividend process works.

Safety in your workplace is where you have the greatest opportunity to make an impact when it comes to dividends. Texas Mutual offers thousands of free resources, including our new e-learning online training modules, to help you launch safety programs, educate employees, and maintain safe environments. Visit the safety resource center of your texasmutual.com account. Our safety services support center is also available at 844-WORKSAFE Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to help you identify the best resources for your business or connect you with a safety services consultant.

Another way to improve your chance of receiving a dividend is to have a solid return-to-work program in place so that when accidents do occur, you have a plan for minimizing losses and getting workers back on the job. Texas Mutual has a number of resources to help with this, and our recent post on creating a return-to-work program from our Your Claims Questions Answered series is a great place to start.

These resources and plans may seem like small steps, but they could add up to a dividend for your business. Find out more about Texas Mutual’s dividend program by clicking here.

Control your costs by controlling your e-mod

Unless you’re an insurance agent or work in the industry, insurance terminology can seem confusing or full of jargon. Your experience modification rate, also known as an e-mod, EMR, or experience modifier, is a good example. Put simply, your e-mod represents the workplace safety record, but there is a lot that goes into calculating it.

We discussed e-mods, how they are calculated, how they affect your premium, and what they mean for your business in our July webinar. These monthly webinars are one of the ways we cut through insurance industry jargon to help you understand workers’ compensation. They take place on the first Friday of every month. Watch the presentation and see what you can do to keep control your e-mod, or read on for our key takeaways.

Experience Modifiers

Click to watch the presentation

What is an e-mod and what is its purpose?

An e-mod is a numerical factor that reflects a company’s historical cost of injuries and future risks. It is used to calculate premium.

E-mods serve two main purposes. The first is for comparative analysis. An e-mod reflects the past loss experience of a company compared against other employers in the same industry. This comparison generates the e-mod, which is used to adjust the workers’ compensation premium up or down. The second purpose is to create incentive in the workplace for employers to maintain a safe work environment by preventing hazards and properly training employees.

Loss experience is a more reliable predictor of future losses for larger premium, so we do not apply an e-mod to employers who have less than $5,000 in premium.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that while e-mods are used to calculate premium, they aren’t a great measure of how safe a company actually is. We explain this in greater detail in There’s Nothing Wrong with a 1.0 and 10 Reasons to Stop Using E-mods to Evaluate Safety.

How your e-mod is calculated

An e-mod compares an employer’s actual losses (experience rating) against the expected losses for their industry as a whole. To determine your company’s expected losses, your company’s payroll and class codes are taken into consideration.  A simple explanation of how your e-mod is calculated is actual losses divided by expected losses for the industry.

E-mod calculation

Your current e-mod takes into account claims data from the most recent three-year period. The image below is a representation of how your losses can affect your e-mod and illustrates how losses can fall outside the three-year window. Because three full years of data is needed to determine your e-mod, losses don’t immediately affect it and they eventually drop off.

3 years of data

How your e-mod affects your premium

E-mod ratings are determined by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). Most states, including Texas, use the NCCI to calculate experience modifiers. A score of 1.0 represents an average risk and means the company should perform as expected for the industry. A multiplier of less than 1.00 is a credit mod and indicates a company is safer than average within its industry. A multiplier greater than 1.00 is a debit mod and indicates a company that is less safe than average. The chart below shows examples of how your experience modification factor can affect your premium.

Credit debit e-mod

What you can do to control your e-mod

Although accidents happen, there are steps you can take to keep your e-mod under control. Encouraging safe practices in your workplace and implementing return-to-work programs can help. Read our tips below:

  • Create a culture of safety. A positive safety culture starts at the top.
  • Report injuries early. Allow adjusters and doctors to address the injury as soon as possible. This helps to ensure the injured worker gets the necessary medical attention, so that an injury doesn’t become more serious.
  • Implement an injury and illness program. Visit the safety resource center in your Texas Mutual Online account to take a safety program assessment. You’ll answer a few questions about your company’s operations and potential hazards, and receive a sample safety program.
  • Train employees on safety topics. Provide a new employee orientation, refresher training, and remedial training as needed. Our safety resource center offers 2,000 free resources, including more than 200 e-Learning online training modules. Make sure to keep safety training records for OSHA reporting.
  • Investigate accidents and near misses. Accident investigations can prevent safety incidents from occurring again. Attend our August webinar to learn how to conduct job safety analysis to identify hazards.

If you still have questions about e-mods

We encourage you to talk to your agent, utilize NCCI resources, or view our recent blog on experience modifiers from our Your Claims Questions Answered video series.

Apply for a Texas Mutual safety or wellness grant

Safety and wellness programs are proving their value in the workplace, and as a business owner, your employees are looking to you. At Texas Mutual, we want to make it easier for you to invest in safety and wellness, and our new safety and wellness grants do just that. This opportunity is exclusively for our Texas Mutual policyholders, and we encourage you to apply by July 21 for the best chance at receiving a grant. These programs are designed to help make your business a healthier, safer place to work. See the details below on how you can get funding to buy safety equipment or start a wellness program in your workplace.

Start a wellness program with a wellness grantdumbbell and apple with measuring tape

Healthier employees save you money on workers’ comp claims, health care costs, missed work days and so much more. Wellness grant recipients will get a one-year workplace wellness program, which includes health screenings for employees, ongoing support, wellness challenge ideas, helpful webinars and more. A program like this could transform the health of your employees. Click here for more information on the wellness grants.

Get new safety equipment with a safety grantProtective clothes

Safety grant recipients will receive reimbursement of up to $1,500 for the purchase of ergonomic, safety or industrial hygiene equipment to reduce and prevent workplace injuries. If you are awarded a safety grant, you’ll have 60 days to purchase the equipment and submit a form for reimbursement. Click here for more information on the safety grants.

How to apply

You could be one of the hundreds of policyholders awarded through our Safety and Wellness Grant Program. If you are ready to apply, log in to texasmutual.com and click the Safety menu option. Then, click the orange Safety and Wellness Grants button. See the steps below for more information.

Applying for Safety and Wellness Grants

If you have any questions, feel free to contact our Safety Services Support Center at 844-WORKSAFE (967-5723). We look forward to seeing the health and safety improvements this program will bring to Texas businesses.

Your Claims Questions Answered – What can the Texas Star Network do for my business?

Texas Mutual offers a workers’ compensation heath care option called the Texas Star Network. Comprised of medical professionals with the return-to-work goal in mind, our network is one of the many ways we save you money.

Watch our next video in the Your Claims Questions Answered series on what the Texas Star Network can do for your business and take a look at the key benefits below.

Benefits of the Texas Star Network:

  • Policyholders receive a discount of up to 12 percent off their premium
  • Patients treated by an in-network doctor return to work eight days sooner on average
  • Injured workers receive top quality medical care with lower than average costs
  • It’s easy to find in-network providers through the network app or online directory
  • You can reduce your premium by lowering claim costs

We encourage you to consult your agent to determine if the network is the right choice for your business, but keep in mind you do not have to wait until your policy renews to enroll. The network comes with responsibilities for you and your employees.

Visit texasmutual.com for information on how to enroll in the network, and to find other network tools.

Your Claims Questions Answered is a six-part video series covering the most commonly asked claims questions. We’ve featured each episode on the blog with our key takeaways. You can watch the full series here or visit our recent posts about return-to-work programs, e-mods, the claims process, and reporting an injury.

Take a look at our recent system enhancements

At Texas Mutual, we are committed to our policyholder owners that trust us to take care of their employees and their businesses when the unexpected happens. With constantly evolving technology all around us, that commitment extends into the online services we provide as well.Marketing - flat design website banner

We recently upgraded our systems to provide better service, streamline our billing process, and improve our technology so that we can add future enhancements. We’ve been talking about these enhancements the last few weeks and while the changes are mostly behind the scenes, there are some you’ll notice when you login to texasmutual.com. Login now to see the enhancements yourself, or take a look at our quick recap of the changes below.

  • You’ll see an updated gateway with better navigation to the features you use most often.
  • You’ll also find a new billing and payments page with the ability to schedule payments and see payment history, account history, and invoices (for those currently on installment billing, and all other policyholders upon renewal in the new system).

Once your policy renews in the new system, you will also see:

  • A new Payroll Reporting Online system (for those enrolled in online payroll reporting).
  • You may notice that you receive fewer invoices, as our new system consolidates transactions into regularly scheduled invoices.
  • Billing from a policy-level approach to an account-level approach. Payments will be applied to the oldest charge first to reduce the risk of cancellation.
  • If a payment isn’t received by the invoice due date, a late fee of $10 will be assessed.
  • An insufficient funds fee of $30 will be assessed if payments are reversed due to insufficient funds.

On our end, these changes were planned and tested over the last few years, but will have very little effect on how you do business with Texas Mutual. We are happy to bring these changes to make our systems more efficient and user-friendly, allowing us to offer even better service, now and in the future. You can read more detailed information about these changes here.

Agents will also see some system enhancements, which you can read about and watch videos about here.

We are here if you have any questions about these system enhancements at (800) 859-5995.

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