Get to know claims trainee Elyse Porter

Elyse Porter
Elyse Porter

Elyse Porter is a member SFM’s newest class of claims trainees, which started in June of 2022. She now handles claims as part of our Small Business Accounts team. SFM’s claims training program helps recent graduates and those changing careers get into the field of workers’ compensation claim handling. It’s one way we’re ensuring that we can continue to maintain our high standard of claim handing for years to come.

Tell us a little bit about your background.
I spent the last 10 years of my career being a preschool teacher. I was living in an early education environment throughout the pandemic and then decided I needed to make a change. I have a family connection to an SFM employee who let me know about the training program. It was the right time to make the change and she had nothing but good things to say about SFM.

Is there anything you’ve been able to carry through from your preschool teaching experience that relates to your current role?
Most of teaching 4- and 5-year-olds is related to social emotional learning and the idea that we as humans need to be taught how to self-regulate and deal with the natural emotional swings that humans have throughout the day. When dealing with and helping people, especially people who are going through really challenging moments in their lives, it's extraordinarily helpful to have the background to think, this is a person experiencing this emotion. This explains their behavior. And this then is how I need to meet them in this moment to help them traverse what is a really complicated system when you're not usually in it.

How would you describe your role in a nutshell?
I tend to say that I am someone who helps people facilitate the workers’ comp system. My job is to help ensure that workers can understand and get access to the things they need to recover, and also to help employers through the process. Especially in small business, this is potentially their first claim ever, so they have no experience with this system as a whole. It is a lot of teaching in that I am walking people through an entirely new system that they're unfamiliar with, but has really substantial impacts on, especially the worker, their health, their wellbeing, their family's wellbeing. It has really substantial impacts on their daily life.

Is there a time that stands out to you when your job was particularly rewarding?
I actually just got an email last week from an employee who recently had surgery and is now experiencing the wage loss benefits of workers’ comp for the first time in her career. She has been in her career for decades and she sent me this really kind email just saying that there are very few people who are competent in their job and she really appreciates how competent I was and that it's made her experience better. There's not much better than being able to meet someone in a challenging moment and making their life easier instead of adding burdens onto their plate.

What do you like about your job?
I like the variation from day to day. There's a joke within the claims community that there is no concrete answer because every claim is different. The reality is that I can have employees with very similar injuries in similar timeframes and there's very little overlap as far as how their claims progress or what is needed with each claim, and I like that variation. I like that every day is a little bit different, but I can still make substantial and meaningful impacts in people's daily lives.

What’s most challenging about your job?
I think the transition into this job was especially hard because it was sort of a left turn into, into a different world, so it did feel a little bit like I had been like body snatched and was amongst aliens the first couple of weeks as I got settled. I think the challenging bits are trying to meet people's needs from a distance. In my prior job, I was in person. If a family, a child had an issue, I was able to build rapport in person and have meaningful conversations face to face. With this job that's not what it is. I'm trying to build rapport and meet needs through the phone or an email and that's a different process and just requires a little bit of a different response to it.

What words of wisdom do you have for employers?
I think earlier is always easier. So the sooner things are reported, the easier it is to allow things progress in an easier fashion for all parties. Also, it's OK to not know the system. I'm here to help you navigate the system. It's complicated and really varies from case to case. Even if it is your first claim or it's your 10th, but this one's different, it's OK to not know. It's OK to rely on the SFM employees to help guide you through, because that that's what we're here to do.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am currently trying to complete a goal of hiking in every state park in the state of Minnesota. It was a hobby I started during the pandemic to help self-regulate and really work on my own wellbeing and mental health through a hard time. It's been a couple years and I'm halfway through. I think I've hiked in 47 of the 66 parks now. I just did a long weekend the beginning of November and we did nine parks along the North Shore and hiked 23 miles over four days.


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