Big insurers offer telework to attract talent, cut costs

Three prominent insurers lead the list of FlexJobs' top 100 companies for work-from-home opportunities in 2013, including UnitedHealth Group (ranked at No. 2), Aetna (No. 4) and Humana (No. 7), according to Employee Benefits Advisor. The health insurers cited attracting top talent and cost containment as key reasons for embracing flexible work arrangements.

"At the end of the day, we're a service company and a tech company and those lend themselves to telework," Aetna spokesperson Susan G. Millerick told Employee Benefits Advisor. "[W]hether someone is in a home office or an actual office doesn't matter as much in the Aetna environment." 

In fact, 47 percent of Aetna employees telework, including 42 percent of supervisors and managers and 19 percent of staff employed less than one year, according to the insurer's workplace demographic profile. Teleworking contributed to employee retention at Aetna, where annual voluntary turnover of teleworkers is about 3 percent, Reuters reported. And teleworking lowered Aetna's overhead costs, eliminating about $78 million attributable to real estate, heat, air conditioning and other amenities, Employee Benefits Advisor noted.

Since flexible work arrangements may boost employee engagement, Humana and UnitedHealth Group also tout their value. "As the definition of the workplace continues to evolve, we strive to offer a diversity of options to meet the needs of the enterprise as well as those of individual Humana associates," Humana's Tom Nolan said in an email to Employee Benefits Advisor. United spokesperson Cheryl Randolph echoed this position, saying in a statement that her organization works to "offer competitive benefit packages and allow for flexibility for our employees to have a more balanced work-life environment."  

Teleworking makes good business sense under certain conditions, as FiercePracticeManagement reported, such as when the job involves tedious tasks best accomplished without interruptions, when employees have proven their reliability, when businesses can equip staff properly for off-site work, and when protocols exist for employee and management communication.

Finally, to minimize drawbacks inherent in letting staff work at home, experts recommend allowing teleworking on a trial basis first, with clear productivity and availability expectations set from the start.

For more:
- read the Employee Benefits Advisor article
- here's the Reuters article
- see Aetna's workplace demographic profile

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