WorkPartners is turning the spotlight on an individual making an impact and exemplifying excellence in the field of human resources, workers’ compensation, and more specifically… Return-To-Work. We are excited to feature Rosie Alvarez, Sr. Return-To-Work Analyst at Netflix. We hope everyone enjoys this week’s featured interview!
WP. Hi Rosie! Please give us a quick summary of your background.
RA. After working as an adjuster for various third-party administrators (TPAs), I moved to the employer’s side of things. I came on board with the Federal Reserve Bank and was there for more than ten years. I was responsible for oversight of various Leaves of Absence programs for the District, which included a Return-To-Work program.
I have been fortunate to have gained a fair amount of experience across a variety of industries – Human Resources, Leave Management, Return-To-Work, and Reasonable Accommodations.
In August of 2018, I decided to transition into the exciting world of production and accepted a role within Netflix to lead Return-To-Work efforts for the Workers’ Compensation claims. I have grown very passionate about helping injured workers succeed on the job while healing from their injuries.
WP. You are so passionate about Return-To-Work (RTW). What is it about RTW that means so much to you?
RA. It is such a rewarding experience knowing that I am making a difference in someone’s life by relating to their needs. My time on the claims side of the fence, as an adjuster, allowed me to thoroughly understand how quickly things can get convoluted and therefore very confusing for the injured worker. It is a great feeling to be able to walk employees through the process, step-by-step, and be their advocate.
WP. What is the most common misconception regarding a RTW program?
RA. This is an excellent question and it warrants a bifurcated look.
From an employer’s perspective, some employers have a misconception, or completely overlook the need to discuss their RTW programs and philosophy upfront, and before an injury takes place. A proactive educational approach can be very helpful in ensuring the efficacy of a RTW program through increased collaboration by the injured worker and every stakeholder involved in the claims process. Instead, workers may see RTW as a reflection of their employers’ lack of concern about their injury, or physical limitation. Injured workers feel that their recovery is not the most important factor to their employer. This feeling is only intensified if their employer is seemingly more concerned about rushing them back to work and discontinuing TTD benefits.
Employers should consider taking a proactive approach to RTW education. Informing workers of the health benefits, both physical and psychological, of work and the negative effects of absenteeism will go a long way to making employees feel like their wellbeing is always the utmost priority for their employer.
That being said, the injured worker may have misconceptions about RTW in the absence of the right education. Workers may feel that their employers are trying to push them back to work and don’t care about their health. On the contrary, RTW is what is best for an employee to help increase appropriate levels of physical activity. The increased blood circulation and movement throughout the day help improve stamina, mobility, and other physical conditioning.
WP. What is one of the most impactful decisions in controlling costs a company can make and why?
RA. Partnership and collaboration. It is key for an employer to get to know their vendors in the workers’ compensation program to ensure they share the same philosophy and values. A good example of fostering a strong partnership and collaboration in the clinical arena involves an employer taking the time to do a site visit at a medical provider’s clinic that actively treats their injured workers. This is important to ensure that the provider hears directly from the employer about company culture and clearly understands the physical demands of each position within the company.
Partnership and collaboration enable important dialogue around RTW and your perception of the value it provides your employees.
WP. You currently serve in the entertainment industry. How has the COVID-19 crisis affected the entertainment industry?
RA. The entertainment industry was affected much like the rest of the world. One day we’re working doing what we do best and next thing you know, our work stops as productions cease and our employees are sent home to work remotely. It is very important to us, albeit a difficult time for everyone, that we make sure our employees continue to have access to medical care, either virtually or in-person, to avoid delays in their recovery. A key focus for us is to ensure that our injured employees continue to stay active via virtual physical therapy and home exercise.
WP. What does the future of workers’ compensation look like in California after we get through this current crisis?
RA. There is a lot of uncertainty around what the world will look like post-COVID-19. Pertinent to workers’ compensation, telemedicine is here to stay. We will see a proliferation of its use and evolution. Virtual visits for physical therapy and follow up with various medical specialties could also experience a rise.
As businesses begin to open, hesitation of attending in-person medical exams, related to safety concerns, may persist with some injured workers, especially for those directly impacted by the pandemic. In these cases, the workers’ compensation industry will need to adjust its approach to ensure injured workers have options to access appropriate medical care.
WP. We realize it can be tough at times balancing your career and life outside of work. How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?
RA. I am very fortunate to work for a company that passionately promotes a healthy work-life balance; I am empowered to attend all my life events and remain focused on the work at hand. I enjoy volunteering for nonprofits in my spare time and honored to be a member of the Resource Council for the Los Angeles Education Partnership. Of course, I love spending time with my family and friends and sneaking in the occasional yoga or Zumba class (virtually during this quarantine period).
WP. And finally, we are curious to know what Netflix series has been your go-to during this stay–at–home order?
RA. It is funny you ask me this question, I have not been one to watch much TV. However, now that I finally have some downtime due to the quarantine, I finally got around to watching “Ozark” and “13 Reasons Why” & “Narcos Mexico”. I must have binge-watched six episodes in one-day. Strongly recommended!!
WP. Thank you, Rosie, for your insights and your binge-worthy recommendations. Some of us now know what we will be doing this weekend!