Interview with Susan Geyer

During this challenging and uncertain time, WorkPartners would like to bring something positive for you to read. We would like to turn the spotlight on individuals making an impact and exemplifying excellence in the field of workers’ compensation. We are excited to interview Susan Geyer, Human Resources Manager at San Diego Job Corps.

WP. Hi Susan! Will you please give us a quick summary of your background.

SG.  I have over 30 years of experience in Human Resources, including 10 years in manufacturing, 10 years in higher education and several years in distribution and corporate banking. I attended college at Cal Poly – SLO and hold Bachelor’s Degrees in Business and Organizational Leadership and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership.

WP. You have managed HR and workers’ compensation claims for different industries in your career. Have you noticed a difference in your approach to prevention? 

SG. In all industries, prevention, communication, and training is pivotal in reducing claims. You need to understand the industry, what the issues are, and help management understand the causes. In my manufacturing job, we saw a lot of carpal tunnel cases due to how the machines or techniques were designed. I had the assemblers work with the engineers on redesigning the machines. The process helped engineers realize form and function, and this helped reduce our claims.

WP. How has the COVID-19 Crisis affected your working environment?

SG. COVID-19 has affected our work and personal lives at all levels. My role is to stay educated on the changing legal / HR environment and to work with management on controlling rumors and staying as transparent as possible. Management is coming to work, and we have a small staff. Managers are utilizing Zoom and FaceTime to conduct meetings and keep employees engaged. We are still paying employees to work from home for now. Staying healthy is vital and ensuring the workforce that we care about their well-being is our priority. The workforce looks to HR and leaders for correct information. Employees want to know how they will be protected, how they get paid, and how they keep benefits. Constant communication is necessary; and if the employer is showing they care, then the employee will not react negatively.

WP. What is the most common misconception regarding workers’ comp?

SG.  That the employer does not care.

WP. What is one of the most impactful decisions in controlling costs a company can make and why?  

SG. Prevention, education, empathy, and listening are necessary. Annual trainings inform employees that the company cares. Listening to the employee as to why an injury occurred is also important. Employees are not cookie-cutter in shape or size. For example, we need to inform our purchasing department that chairs and desks need to fit the individual employee.  Petite employees will need different chairs and desks than large/tall employees.

WP. What does the future of workers’ compensation look like in California? 

SG. Ergonomics. Employers need to ask employees what they want in a workstation. Everyone is different. If employees have a say in their workstation, they take ownership of the space and are more engaged in their work.

WP. Thank you for your time, Susan. In closing how do you keep a healthy work-life balance? 

SG.  It is hard in HR, as the day can be easily interrupted due to urgent issues. I arrive very early so I can get projects accomplished when it is quiet before everyone gets in. I never work past 5 pm so I can get home to walk an hour to get in my 10,000+ steps.

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