At the 2016 IAIABC Annual Convention, Scott Brennan from SFM and Vickie Kennedy from Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) talked about strategies to attract and retain new employees.
According to a 2014 IAIABC survey, 45-50% of their members’ state agency workforce is eligible for retirement in the next five years. This mass exodus of talent and experience from the regulatory side is very concerning to the workers’ compensation industry.
State agencies are extremely challenged with recruiting new talent. Regulatory agencies often do not offer the flexible scheduling that millenials crave. Workers are expected to be in the office a fixed schedule with no flexibility or work-from-home options. Another challenge faced by state agencies is that their compensation tends to be 30-40% less than those doing similar jobs in the private sector.
The State of Washington Department of Labor & Industry perform the same functions as a TPA does when handling self-insured claims, however, their workers have higher case loads and lower pay than their industry peers. This is a huge challenge for them when it comes to attracting and retaining employees. To address this, they performed a survey of their employees to see what their concerns were around the workplace environment. The hope was to be able to have a positive impact on things they could control to offset things they could not control (like wages).
One thing the survey showed was strong feelings of procedural injustice in terms of the fairness process in allocating resources. The adjusters felt understaffed and, because of this, they felt tremendous pressure to reduce tasks so that they could spend more time on their caseload. They were also very concerned about their caseload sitting idle when they were off on personal leave. Another concern their staff had was around career ladders that allowed them to advance in the organization outside of their current position.
L&I developed 93 different counter measures to address their employees’ concerns. They then asked their employees to rank these counter measures so they could prioritize them. The top request was the ability to telecommute and work from home occasionally. They have started pilot programs to allow a variety of workers to telecommute. This was a bigger challenge for overtime-eligible employees, but they have been able to work through those issues. The hope is the pilot programs will be successful so that this telework option can be opened up to a broader segment of the workforce.
They also looked at establishing developmental job assignments so that people could essentially enter a training position in a different segment of the department to allow people to professionally advance in different operational areas. They came up with a way to redirect phone calls away from their account managers, which has reduced their time on the phone by 35% (from 46% to 11%). Finally, in job classifications where recruitment was especially challenging, they surveyed people in that job class working with other companies to try and better understand why they would not consider employment with L&I.