“Each new document is like a puzzle to be solved,” says Alex Koon, legal operations specialist with Travelers in St. Paul, Minn. “I’m very analytical and observant – it’s very easy for me to learn and memorize rules.”
Centralizing this function helps Travelers better support its Claim Legal Staff Counsel organization with greater efficiency, accuracy and organization. Travelers’ legal teams across the country are now able to access documents quickly, and the employees in our claim staff counsel offices can focus on the legal issues.
To help staff these two BRCs – the other one is in Hartford, Conn. – Travelers partnered with Lifeworks Services to develop a customized program where candidates were screened, interviewed and initially hired by Lifeworks for an eight-week training period.
Lifeworks is an expert in the disability hiring space,” says Jim McMahon, director of talent acquisition at Travelers. “They coach, guide and mentor us. They analyzed the job and know the skillset needed to be successful.”
At the same time, Lifeworks and Travelers agreed there would be no compromise on job requirements or expectations. Lifeworks committed to delivering an employee population that was very strong on productivity, attendance and retention.
“We believe this program gives Travelers a competitive advantage,” comments Jim. “The results have been promising, even after just a year.”
Unique to this program, Travelers contracted with Lifeworks to provide a full-time, on-site job coach to help teach basic job skills and job-specific training. Because participants were unfamiliar with the insurance or law industries, the program started with a few weeks of training.
Instruction was handled by both Travelers personnel and the job coach – Joshua Mathiowetz, program supervisor with Lifeworks Services. Training included classroom-type work and hands-on profiling of sample documents with assistance from law office administrators.
Joshua’s on-site role started at 40 hours per week and tapered down as the participants became more familiar with their jobs. “Sometimes people just need a little extra help in the first few weeks before they can do it on their own,” he says, adding that he’s now on-site only a few hours per week.
One of Alex’s colleagues, Calder Jordan, studied very hard during the training period to learn the different document types and procedures.
“I was committed because I really wanted the job,” Calder recalls. He credits this studying for learning to recognize patterns across documents from different states, so he can quickly profile, title and upload each one.
After successfully completing the program, Alex and Calder were each hired by Travelers for full-time positions.
“I feel I’m good at my job,” says Calder. “When I get in a zone, I can just fly through the documents.”
However, he quickly adds that accuracy is stressed more than speed in the BRC. Both Calder and Alex are proud of their individual accuracy rate, along with the department’s stellar record.
As two of the more experienced BRC members, they both also gain satisfaction from answering other employees’ questions. “It’s rewarding to help them out – I feel like I really know my stuff,” Calder says, adding that he’s been tapped to train new employees on sample documents. Along with Alex’s own profiling work and training assistance, he now also helps distribute incoming documents to each team member’s working folder.
Away from work, Alex enjoys playing board games, especially strategy games, and believes that skills he’s honed in this hobby aid his work at Travelers. “Those games teach you to think ahead, be aware of everything in front of you and work within the rules,” he explains. Working successfully within the BRC’s guidelines is a source of pride for both men.
This job gives me more of an identity and purpose in the world,” says Calder. “I feel more responsible for myself.”
He shares his successes with his family; his parents are pleased with the opportunities he’s receiving. For Alex, the stability of full-time employment was the missing piece to his own independence, something he had desired for a long time.
As signs of their self-sufficiency, both Calder and Alex have recently moved out of their parents’ homes, each to his own apartment close to the office. “Travelers is a strong, stable company,” comments Alex. “I feel very secure with my job and future.”
Thinking Long Term.
Joshua echoes Alex’s optimism and praises Travelers’ commitment to this program. “If I come back 15 years from now,” Joshua says, “I firmly believe some of the same talented team members will still be working here because they enjoy the work and
excel at it.”
For employers looking to add talent in a competitive labor market, this type of program can serve as an important piece to the puzzle. While it’s a sound business decision, Jim also says the program demonstrates one of Travelers’ core values – being a great community partner.
When companies are considering an inclusive hiring program, Jim encourages long-term – not short-term – thinking. “Be open-minded and fully committed to supporting the partnership,” he concludes. “Our collaboration with Lifeworks is key to the program’s success.”