How to Incentivize Your Workers’ Compensation Pool

Suzanne Reister
Executive Director HR, Workers' Comp, Unemployment, North Central Educational Service District
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Educational service districts in Washington state support and provide services to school districts
in designated regions across the state. Here at North Central ESD, we walk alongside 29 public school districts, which includes creating opportunities for engagement around employee safety.

Oftentimes, focus is set on the fund balance of a workers’ compensation pool. We lose sight of the importance of preventing incidents/claims from occurring in the first place and the overall impact that can have on the fund balance. Our workers’ compensation pool is governed by an executive committee of district superintendents, and in 2018 we proposed a safety incentive program which would rebate back to districts a percentage of their premiums when they partnered with us.

Why an incentive program? A couple of years ago we realized we had an opportunity not only to reduce the highest frequency and severity of our claims but engage, connect and assist our members in the overall safety of their school buildings.

What was the objective of this program? The main objective was for us to keep the program simple, make sure we did the heavy lifting for our districts, and build deep relationships so they would see the overall benefit of this program and ultimately reduce slip, trip and fall claims. Now in our third year (we suspended it during COVID) we have seen what a positive impact this incentive program has made in our districts.

How does the program work? The initial program included multiple walkthroughs of district buildings throughout the year to look for “hazards” as well as a compliance piece that focused on safety committees. We developed an assessment tool to be used during each walkthrough, and as long as the cumulative score is above the set amount, the districts are eligible for the incentive dollars.

How do districts spend their incentive dollars? Our only request is that they use the money for staff-related safety items for their buildings. It is up to the district to determine the best way to utilize these funds.

How do we measure the success of this program? That part is pretty easy! We have seen a reduction in claims being filed, and one of the largest wins was the reaction of the schools’ board of directors when we presented their incentive checks at board meetings. It was not about the amount of money they were receiving, but the opportunity to share positive news and recognize their staff.

Overall, thinking outside of the box when it came to incentivizing our workers’ compensation pool has helped our agency actualize our philosophy of weaving safety into the culture of a business while we walk alongside our district members, helping them get to where they want to be, at the pace they want to go.

*The views and opinions expressed in the Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA) blogs are those of each respective author. The views and opinions do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRIMA.*

By: Suzanne Reister
Executive Director HR, Workers' Comp, Unemployment, North Central Educational Service District


Suzanne is responsible for the day to day operations for North Central ESD's workers' comp pool as well as their unemployment pool. She  manages and directs strategic goals, risk management services, budgets, contracts and arrangements with third party administrators. Suzanne works closely with 29 districts to manage and control claims. She is also responsible for monitoring all expenses, proposing annual budgets, hiring staff and maintaining a healthy fund balance.

Business Experience

Suzanne has 20 years' experience in private industry managing the business side of up to five franchise businessess, marketing, payroll and all aspects of accounting. She has 19 years with North Central ESD with current experience in self-insured pools, human resources and other programs.

Professional Affiliations

Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA)

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Washington School Personnel Association (WSPA)


ARM-P, PHR and SHRM-CP designations

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