Recently, we had the opportunity to talk to one of our long-time members, Mike Fenlon of United Parcel Service (UPS), about how he came to know the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), why UPS became a member of WCRI, and what value he derives from membership. Mike heads global corporate risk management for UPS, which is the world’s largest package delivery company serving more than 220 countries and territories.
1) How did you first learn about WCRI?
I joined UPS in Risk Management back in 1993. That was my first exposure to the great work done by WCRI. UPS was one of the founding members back in 1983, as workers’ compensation―and the benefits it provides to UPSers injured in the line of duty―is very important to us. We have many risks to manage at UPS locations all over the world, but our largest business segment remains in the United States. We value independent research so we can better understand what is and isn’t working with the state systems across the country.
2) What value do you derive from being a member of WCRI?
I want to network and surround myself with all the leading experts in workers’ compensation. From a learning perspective, the involvement with the WCRI Board, staff, and thought leaders attending the annual conference has been invaluable to me over my career. These conversations always generate ideas and provide nuggets of information that help my risk management team think differently and improve our performance.
3) What is your favorite WCRI study/research area?
It is hard to pick a favorite. I really value the whole body of work. Nobody has the same breadth of research on workers’ compensation, as WCRI―they are the gold standard. That said, there are two areas that are of vital interest to UPS’s Risk Management Team: WCRI’s research on opioid dispensing and worker outcomes.
WCRI’s work on opioid dispensing helps us ensure that our injured workers are getting the treatment they need without exposing them to unnecessary opioid use. The Institute’s worker outcomes research, which surveys injured workers, helps us identify opportunities to improve system performance. WCRI’s research gives us the tools to improve the “injury experience” in much the same way our companies work on “customer experience.”
4) Can you describe a moment when WCRI’s research was really helpful?
Since joining WCRI in 1993, there is not one moment I can point to because every day I find the research―whether its understanding the impact of fee schedules on medical costs, how one state compares to its neighbor on opioid dispensing and use, or how injured workers rate their satisfaction with medical care―really helpful.
The thing is, the system is always changing, which means it needs to be monitored and changes have to be made to ensure it continues to work for all stakeholders, especially injured workers. WCRI provides the monitoring and comparisons we need to make improvements to the system. Frankly, I do not want to imagine a world without WCRI.
At UPS, we have a term called “constructive dissatisfaction,” which means that no matter how good of a job you're doing, you can always do a little better. In today’s business world, anecdotal information from single sources is not enough. Using data as the foundation for real insight, WCRI gives us the information we need to continually make the system better for our injured workers.