Benefits, insurers top best-in-telecommuting round-up

Four insurance and benefits industry leaders are highly ranked in FlexJobs’ Top 100 Companies for work from home opportunities/telecommuting jobs in 2013. The online job search service, dedicated to finding telework jobs for those interested, named UnitedHealth Group No. 2, Aetna No. 4, Humana No. 7 and ADP No. 10.

“At the end of the day, we’re a service company and a tech company and those lend themselves to telework,” says Susan G. Millerick, spokeswoman for Aetna and a teleworker herself since the summer of 2012 after spending 12 years in-office. “We’re a global company, but if you think about our global operations, we spend a great deal of time on the phone or [instant messaging] customers or colleagues, so whether someone is in a home office or an actual office doesn’t matter as much in the Aetna environment.”

Millerick adds that the company probably first used telework as an offer to retain high-performing employees who needed to relocate or were in an area where an office was being closed. But, with 43% — or around 18,500 people — of the total employee population now working remotely, she says there is now a lot of “significance” placed on it.  

ADP and UnitedHealth Group representatives both pointed out that employee attraction is a main reason they use telework as well. “We understand that flexible work arrangements can enhance our ability to attract and engage an expanded talent universe while lowering our real estate costs,” said Dermot O’Brien, chief human resources officer at ADP in a statement. Cheryl Randolph of UnitedHealth Group said in a statement that they try to recruit and hire “the best and brightest people” and “offer competitive benefit packages and allow flexibility for our employees to have a more balanced work-life environment.”

Cost savings

While all the companies placed an emphasis on the people, Aetna’s Millerick went on to discuss some of the cost savings that the company has compiled in recent years as a result of their teleworking population. “They’re saving money on fuel, meals, vehicle wear and tear, dry cleaning, and they report better moods and ability to work non-traditional hours,” she says about the allowance for employees. For the company, it saves “a little over $78 million with a $29 a square-foot savings per employee,” which includes the real estate metrics, heating, air conditioning and all other amenities factored in.

“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 Noland said in an email.

But as the evolution continues, Aetna’s Millerick adds, it’s important to remember that telework is a “privilege” that is positive for many employees selected for it but not all. “It can reduce consumption and reduce companies’ carbon footprints, but every company needs to evaluate it based on their model,” she says. “It’s not a foregone conclusion that everyone can telework.”

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