Best Places to Work 2021: Unum says it's better connected than ever before

Contributed photo / Unum President and CEO Rick McKenney talks with a group of employees at the insurer's offices.
Contributed photo / Unum President and CEO Rick McKenney talks with a group of employees at the insurer's offices.

Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, Unum Group officials say the culture within the Chattanooga-based insurer is more connected than ever before.

Unum touts its mission as helping the working world thrive through life's moments. With the impact of COVID-19 and shift of 99% of Unum's workforce to remote work, the insurer took several steps to ensure employees stayed motivated during the challenging time.

Senior leaders started a series of weekly 'quick connects' with the entire 10,000-plus international workforce, providing an opportunity for employees to hear ongoing business and COVID-19 updates along with the ability to comment and ask questions through Microsoft Teams Live.

"It's critical we keep a live and open channel of communication," says Rick McKenney, Unum president and chief executive officer, in one of the company's first CEO quick connect sessions amid the pandemic.

With the move of Unum team meetings and events to Microsoft Teams Live, well-being check-ups also were started, says Liz Ahmed, executive vice president, people and communications at Unum.


* Founded: 1848* Employees: About 2,800 in Chattanooga* Why this is a Best Place to Work: We invest in our employees and our communities because who we are is a direct reflection of our people and the local communities we serve. Our culture of integrity and reputation of success begins with providing an environment where employees can trust they and their families can thrive.* Online:

The first highlighted resources to support employees as they transitioned to remote work, company leaders says. Other sessions included topics on parenting and self-care.

According to company officials, agility amid adversity continued to be a theme in 2020. Across Unum's business, teams tackled new problems to better serve customers and support colleagues who continue to face care-giving and scheduling challenges.

To support the health and safety of employees and customers, Ahmed says Unum deployed several initiatives for COVID-19:

* Shifted resources to leave management teams to handle increasing customer needs and sort through the many regulations that were being enacted in response to the pandemic.

* Set up a dedicated COVID-19 page online.

* Deployed a site for coronavirus issues impacting businesses. HR Trends was used to update human resource professionals and business leaders with solutions to critical issues relating to the pandemic.

photo Contributed photo / Rick McKenney, Unum's president and chief executive officer, says it was critical to keep a live and open channel of communication during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Unum officials say that several accelerated digital solutions were developed to support business efficiency, such as a new mobile app for employees, laptops for all remote employees, an updated virtual private network, soft phones installed to enhance workspace flexibility, and a digital mail solution to reduce the number of physical mail pieces delivered and retrieved by employees.

Also, Unum's Contact Center introduced no-touch printing and enhanced upload capabilities to reduce dependence on physical printers. In addition, Unum made several adjustments to its flex-time policy to support working parents and caregivers.

For the in-office environment, Unum leaders say they worked to maintain a safe working environment by instituting extensive safety protocols, including ongoing disinfecting, deep cleanings, masks and social distancing.

For those working at home, the company strengthened its virtual network capabilities and deployed additional equipment, such as wireless keyboards and mice, to assist employees who quickly shifted to remote work in the U.S. and Europe.

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