Case Study: Complex and Extensive Project To Train Workers' Compensation Staff To Deal Effectively With Angry and Volatile Customers


Workers Compensation Board (WCB) Context

Employees working for Workers Compensation Boards operate within a complex and volatile environment. Consider:

  • Injured workers have experiences trauma ranging from mild to completely life changing, and are often frustrated and angry at the losses of their livlihoods and physical or mental abilities.
  • WCB's roles are complex. They play an important helping role to injured workers offering support for evaluation, physiotherapy, counselling, job retraining and a lot more, often to workers who are feeling high degrees of loss as a result of their injuries.
  • WCB's don't have infinite resources to draw upon to help. There is pressure to control costs sometimes at the expense of helping those that are deserving. That puts pressure on staff who genuinely want to help customers, but who cannot due to policies and limits on the supports that can be provided.
  • WCB's also enforce rules and regulation, and are also in a position to investigate potential fraud on the part of injury claimants. Within the framework, workers compensation fraud can result in terminating benefits, but it can also end in criminal charges filed.
  • WCB's have had the misfortune to have been the locale for several high profile suicides from claimaints.

It's simply a tough environment in which to work.

Our WCB Client:

Our WCB client had had a suicide of a claimant close to its main location, and that, coupled with the realization that ALL staff needed to be properly equipped to deal with distraught, angry and frustrated claimants (and their families), cause them to contact me.

After doing our usual needs assessment, we custom designed a full day course for them, and delivered it initially. The learner response was exceedingly positive, so we continued our relationships for over 18 months, training hundreds of their staff (actually most of their customer facing employees).

During this process, layoffs at the organization were announced. Unbeknownst to me, I walked into a group of employees who, the previous evening, had been informed that x number of people would be losing their jobs. So, in order to engage them in learning how to deal with angry customers, I had to first defuse and focus THEIR anger at their employer.

In fact it became so problematic at first, that I had to take down the signs in the training venue that proudly announced that the WCB considered their employees their most important resource.

Even this seminar worked out well, as we allocated the first hour to talking about employee feelings, before refocusing on the skill to be learned during the seminar.


Fortunately the organization was able to commit to preparing their staff properly, and I was able to set up several 3 month followup sessions for employees who attended the initial course, and wanted more advanced learning and help. While the followup groups were small, with less people volunteering than we hoped, those attending felt that the followup sessions, where ach person brought some problematic situations to the group, were powerful and helpful.

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