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Diversified Health Benefits
Diversified Health Benefits
Business IssueTelework started 10 years ago as a grass-roots effort to retain the skills of talented employees based at work sites that were being consolidated. As telework emerged as a business strategy that contributed to increased employee retention and satisfaction, the question became: how could they make it bigger and better?
Telecommuting SolutionCompany management wanted to expand Aetna's visibility as an employer of choice. With the strength of Aetna's infrastructure, supportive management and enabling technologies, telework quickly grew into a companywide initiative.
Since many of the teleworkers in the original grass-roots effort were claims processors, their tasks were handled electronically and the work was measurable (e.g., how many claims were processed, how long they took, etc.). Now in addition to claims processors, the departments with the highest number of teleworkers include nursing, sales, legal, product management and clinical staff.
Keys to Telecommuting SuccessAetna believes that the hallmark of any successful strategy is buy-in at the top. In addition to support from the highest levels of management, there are several keys to Aetna's successful telework program:
- An executive sponsor (who continues to be supportive of growing the program, securing funding, etc.) and an active oversight committee made up of senior-level managers from across the company.
- A strong core team of representatives from cross-function areas such as Aetna Information Systems, Facilities Management Procurement and Business Operations.
- Solutions Teams that implement specific strategies related to teleworking (Communications, Cultural Development, HR, Finance, Expense Management, IT and Real Estate).
- Strong collaboration and teamwork, and highly skilled employees throughout the company (some are teleworkers and some are not).
- Embedding telework in HR policies and practices (e.g., always keeping track of which employees are teleworking, which office they're closest to for support, etc.).
- Constant "corporate cultural" efforts to encourage connectedness among teleworkers; this includes simulating a "water cooler" type of environment online.
- More than 26 percent, or over 9,000 Aetna employees nationwide, are telecommuters.
- Of the 7,450 employees in Connecticut, 15 percent are telecommuters: approximately half of those telecommute full time and half split their time between the office and another location (in this shared model, some employees have given up their dedicated workspace in the office).
- Aetna projects the number of telecommuters to increase to 36% by 2010, which will largely be driven by a consolidation of its Connecticut operations into its Hartford location.
- During its most recent annual employee survey, Aetna reported a higher retention rate, a higher employee satisfaction rate and increased productivity.
- During an environmental survey among all employees, 50 percent of telecommuters had a commute of 21 miles or more each way to the office; 61 percent of telecommuters reported a savings of $41 or more each week on gas.
- Aetna also has a large number of casual telecommuters; for example, on a snowstorm day, almost half of its Connecticut employees could telecommute because the Virtual Private Network can provide them with remote access to Aetna.
- Eileen Lavin, Telework Head for Program Management Office, Aetna