Why Work-at-Home Works for Us
Do you have a formal work-at-home policy? Do you allow your employees to work from home at all? As Greg recently wrote about in our second quarter edition of Compass, the work-at-home debate is top of mind. An announcement from Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!, that employees would no longer be allowed to telecommute has drummed up significant media coverage. This provision to Yahoo!’s work culture won’t begin until June—and the business world is waiting with bated breath to see how it plays out.
As Greg posits in his article, the choice of whether to allow employees to work from home is unique to the organization and often situational. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that can be applied.
Our experience at Jacobson is that allowing a work-at-home option has helped us retain high-performing employees. We have tenured workers successfully reporting in from across the country! We’ve seen tremendous success doing this with our contract employees, as well. We deploy work-at-home project teams for our clients’ critical workload fluctuations. Besides providing cost savings to our clients, it also broadens the viable candidate pool considerably. Candidates with very specific software skills and targeted experience come together virtually to complete a project in a timely fashion. However, executing this type of work requires strong project management methodology and sophisticated technology. A lot of hard work and dedication goes into making it possible.
Where do you stand on the work-at-home debate? Share your thoughts in the comments.
The Role of the Enlightened Male
What do males have to do with women’s leadership issues? In our industry, men are getting involved to harness the power of women at the executive table. Our industry has long been dubbed a “boys club,” and females are certainly underrepresented in the top ranks.
Margaret Resce Milkint, managing partner at Jacobson, and David Mendelsohn, partner at DLA Piper, formed the Women’s Insurance Networking Group (WING) to tackle these issues head on. If you ask WING members what males have to do with it, their answer is “a lot!” Their vision was to form a women’s networking group where men are part of the conversation.
“Male voice, perspective and participation are crucial to our success in advancing the female leadership initiative,” says Margaret. “We need and value their active support, sponsorship and healthy push back to move forward and change the game!”
WING defines enlightened males as “those who understand the importance of diversity and equality in leadership.” The events provide a platform for women and man to sound off on the issues that affect women in leadership.
At Jacobson, we are committed to diversity awareness and an inclusive workforce. Personally, I am proud of the work Margaret is doing and honored Jacobson has the opportunity to sponsor WING.
WING’s next event is May 9th in Chicago. It is a free luncheon that is open to all industry members. Of course, enlightened males are encouraged to attend!
For more information, or to register, click here: http://www.jacobsononline.com/EventRegistration.aspx?idEvent=396
Ready or Not, Here it Comes
On February 6, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) stated in a letter to the American Medical Association (AMA) that there will be no more delays to the ICD-10 deadline. The following day, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) submitted a letter to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Acting Centers for CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner in strong support for of the October 1, 2014, deadline.
Not all are in are agreement, the AMA and other groups have requested a halt to the ICD-10 implementation, citing burdensome or even devastating implementation costs for physicians. The first extension was granted back in September 2012 in response to opposition of the original October 1, 2013 deadline. As I blogged about last year, the decision was met with mixed reactions back then, too.
There is plenty of work to be done before the deadline hits—that is something we all can agree on! Ready or not, the October 1, 2014, deadline stands firm.
A Great Milestone
We made an exciting announcement this week that I consider a great milestone in our firm’s history. The Jacobson Group is going to merge with ejsSearch, the London-based insurance executive search firm specializing in assignments in the London, broader European and international markets. Through this union, we will become the leading international search and staffing firm that exclusively serves the insurance industry. We’re excited for this opportunity to provide the industry with this essential continuity in cross-border search. If you are interested in more information, view our press release here.
This merger will make us a truly global company and we are adding some immense talent to our team. Barbara Schönhofer, chief executive of ejs, will join the Jacobson executive management team as senior vice president and chief executive officer, global executive search. We look forward to Barbara’s dynamic leadership and feel it embodies the same values we expect from our leaders. We are equally excited to welcome the rest of the ejs staff.
This is the next step in our evolution – but not even close to the last!
The Results Are In!
The Jacobson Group and Ward Group have completed another iteration of the Semi-Annual Insurance Labor Market Study and the results offer a telling picture of our industry’s current landscape. Eighty-six percent of companies polled expect to grow revenue in the next 12 months. Likewise, 56 percent of respondents intend to increase staff. Both of these figures are at the highest levels reported since the study’s inception in 2009.
The primary reason to grow staff during the next 12 months continues to be an increase in business volume, with 47 percent of companies listing this as a reason to hire. Coming in second, with 46 percent of respondents, is expansion. It seems there are some exciting developments coming down the pipeline at many organizations!
This return to hiring, along with a steadily decreasing unemployment rate, do promise a difficult recruiting climate. All functional disciplines were rated by respondents of the study as “moderately difficult to fill.” As demand increases, the difficulty-to-fill measure is expected to continue its incline. While insurers will continue to be faced with recruiting challenges ahead, the outlook is mostly positive for our industry.
I invite you to view the full results summary for a closer look at these projections. If you missed the webinar, you can view the webcast here. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like more information about the study.
Food For Thought: This Year, Simplify
I’ve taken on a new goal for 2013 for myself and for The Jacobson Group, as a whole: to simplify. In that spirit, I wanted to share the latest issue of Compass. Penned by Kirk Goeldner, managing director and senior vice president at Jacobson, this month’s article compares business plans to the infamous seasonal food—fruitcake. They come around once a year, tend to be filled with junk and no one wants to “eat” them. His article proposes that we can cut the complexity this year by keeping the focus on developing talent. Simple and effective!
I invite you to read Compass and Kirk’s article here. How do you intend to simplify this year?
PULSE of the Labor Market in 2013
The year’s first issue of PULSE of the Labor Market, the monthly supplement to our quarterly newsletter, is out and you can view it here. While the BLS reported an addition of 2,400 jobs in the insurance industry in December, the unemployment rate crept up to 3.7 percent. The average industry unemployment rate in 2012 was 4.4 percent, well below 2011’s average of 5.8 percent and 2010’s average of 6.2 percent. This downward trend can be expected to continue throughout 2013. Temporary employment for the industry, which is not figured into BLS data, is also expected to be on the upswing this year.
The 2013 labor market promises a strong emphasis on talent as the differentiator in an increasingly competitive market. Employers will strive to attract and retain the brightest and best to tackle the skills gap and embark on growth initiatives.
On a related note, last week marked the beginning of the January ’13 iteration of our Semi-Annual Insurance Labor Outlook Study. This data gathered in the study will help us further understand what we can expect to see happening in the labor market, as well as this year’s hiring plans for insurers across all sectors. All industry organizations are invited to participate in the survey and receive the results free of charge. You can find more information on the survey here. I am excited to see the outcome of this year’s survey and to give my take on the results.
Best wishes for a prosperous 2013!
The ROI of Succession Planning
At the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) Operations Conference this year, our Managing Partner Margaret Resce Milkint had the pleasure of moderating a panel on a topic that we here at Jacobson hold close: succession planning. Margaret brought a dynamic panel of CEOs and a board chairman with her to share their personal insights gleaned from all stages of the succession process. The speakers provided valuable insights from their own succession journeys.
Perhaps one of the most interesting takeaways Margaret shared with me came from an audience member. Lee Webster, Director of Human Resources Standards with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), brought up the ROI of succession planning—certainly an issue that deserves a deeper look. The measurement of the ROI of a succession planning process is a vital component that allows organizations to evaluate and adjust.
As Webster said, “The succession planning dialogue must include a progressive and dynamic component on the effect of choosing the right leader, as well as the effect the leader has on the capital value of the enterprise. We must create the opportunity to look at risks from a human capital point of view. When we focus on the return, we can begin to account for how well we are doing.”
This is certainly interesting food for thought for the insurance industry as the industry faces up to the challenge of an aging workforce. As the industry strengthens its talent pipeline, we must keep the end goal in sight by continuously measuring the value of our succession and engagement strategies.
Impacts of the Supreme Court Validation of PPACA
With its ruling released on June 28th, the Supreme Court has, absent an unexpected legislative repeal, cemented the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) into U.S. law. Now that the judicial challenges have run their course, there is some clarity around the impacts this law will create.
In the short term, I view this development as moderately positive for the health Insurance industry and perhaps even stimulative for the health insurance labor market. Over the past several months, as the uncertainty around the Supreme Court decision grew, I have seen countless health insurance decision makers put developmental projects on hold until some clarity emerged. I now expect a bit of a dam break in the flow of these projects. Additionally, health insurers can now plan for an expected increase in covered lives due to the survival of the “individual mandate tax.” Together, these impetuses should lead to a modest, industry-wide uptick in hiring over the near term. Moreover, the industry avoided what would have been a major negative shock had the Supreme Court struck down the individual mandate but upheld other aspects of the law including the “Guaranteed Issue” provision.
My view of the longer term impacts of this law is less sanguine. The health care crisis in this country is a crisis of cost, not one of evil health insurers who need to be reigned in via a central authority dictating the terms of their market. Throughout history, central control of markets has invariably led to mal-investment, skewed markets and unintended consequences. I have argued since 2009 that the health care cost crisis needed to be solved with market friendly reforms that took advantage of the immense power of capitalistic choice (aka consumerism). One can make a strong argument that the seeds of our cost crisis were planted by the very body that passed the PPACA, as the endless stream of Washington generated coverage mandates, managed care restrictions and cost-less (to the consumer) benefit increases led to an economic imbalance that ensured consistent health care cost inflation.
The long-term consequences of yet more market interference is not in doubt. We will see continued and likely accelerated, cost escalation. Further, the medium to long-term marginal impact of this law on the labor market will clearly be negative. For all the talk of job creation, every high school economics student understands that an increase in tax decreases economic activity. In this case we have both an individual tax and a tax on employment – and one that will disproportionately impact the segment of the economy most responsible for job growth: small businesses.
All that said, this is not the first time that lawmakers – in their zest to improve the conditions of their constituents – have passed counter-productive laws. Even with the PPACA, the United States continues to have one of the most supportive economies for entrepreneurship and innovation. I expect that our health insurance organizations and other businesses will learn to innovate within the framework of the new law and our economy will continue to outpace the rest of the developed world.
40 Insurance Labor Market Stats
This year, The Jacobson Group is celebrating a remarkable milestone: our 40th anniversary. My father founded the company in 1971 to provide the niche professional recruiting services that the insurance industry required. Through aggressive expansion in the following years, the company accommodated client needs and widened its scope of services to include executive search, recruitment process outsourcing, work-at-home and onsite project support, and temporary and consultant-level staffing. We look forward to many more years of success and innovation as we grow and transform to solve our clients’ business challenges through strategic human capital solutions and operational support.
In the spirit of our 40th anniversary, I wanted to share an infographic detailing 40 current stats for the insurance labor market. Below is just a preview; click it to view the full infographic.