An email sent to all Nationwide employees overnight Tuesday aired complaints that “expectations have become overwhelming and impractical” for claims adjusters and made six demands for change.
Nationwide recalled the message Wednesday morning, a source said. An emergency meeting held later in the day did little to placate employees, the source added.
“Over the past six months, we have noticed a significant increase in our workload accompanied by unrealistic deadlines and objectives,” the message reads. “While we understand the importance of meeting targets and providing quality service to policyholders, the current expectations have become overwhelming and impractical. This has led to a detrimental impact on our well being resulting in heightened stress levels, burnout, and a decline in job satisfaction.”
A Nationwide spokesman did not deny the existence of the email, but did not respond to further emails and phone calls seeking comment.
Adjusters inspect property damage or personal injury claims to determine how much the insurance company should pay for the loss.
The message claims Nationwide is understaffed and asking its claims adjusters to take on too many hours. It asks for the company to undertake a workload study to determine what is the appropriate output for a claims adjuster.
The property & casualty market is highly competitive, with companies like USAA, Progressive, Allstate, Geico and others competing to convince consumers to “bundle” home and auto. This week, U.S. News & World Report ranked Nationwide third for home and auto bundling.
Nationwide reported one of its best years financially in 2022, with a record $57 billion in sales and $1.4 billion in net operating income. Nearly $19 billion in claims and benefits were paid to customers.
The message noted that degraded working conditions can only hurt Nationwide employee retention and also impacts the company brand with policyholders.
“These circumstances not only compromise the quality of claims handling but also have the potential to negatively impact customer satisfaction and the overall reputation of the company,” the message reads. “It is imperative for Nationwide to take immediate action to address this staffing shortfall.”
The message, which was sent anonymously to InsuranceNewsNet, includes references to potential violations of Ohio Department of Insurance and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines regarding work fatigue.
However, there are no federal laws that limit how many hours an employee can work in a single day. The federal law that applies to all employees is the Fair Labor Standards Act, which does not regulate how many hours a day or days in a row an employee can work.
Officials with the Ohio Department of Insurance did not respond to emails and phone calls for comment on the allegations in the message.
The full message reads:
I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing on behalf of a group of claims adjusters who wish to remain anonymous to express our deep concern regarding the excessive work hours and unachievable expectations that have been imposed upon us at Nationwide. We feel it is essential to address these issues to ensure a fair and healthy work environment for all claims adjusters and highlight the potential impact on employee retention.
Over the past six months, we have noticed a significant increase in our workload accompanied by unrealistic deadlines and objectives. While we understand the importance of meeting targets and providing quality service to policyholders, the current expectations have become overwhelming and impractical. This has led to a detrimental impact on our well being resulting in heightened stress levels, burnout, and a decline in job satisfaction.
In addition to the immediate concerns, we want to bring attention to the potential long-term consequences of employee retention within the company. The current work conditions, with excessive work hours and unachievable expectations, have created an environment that is not sustainable for claims adjusters in the long run. The resulting burnout, mental strain and dissatisfaction may drive experienced and talented adjusters to seek employment elsewhere, leading to a loss of expertise, disruption in service quality and increased recruitment and training costs.
We would like to emphasize that our concerns are rooted in our deep commitment to the core values of Nationwide Insurance. Nationwide has always been known for its strong emphasis on integrity, customer focus, respect, and teamwork. We believe that the current work conditions and unachievable expectations are in contradiction to these core values.
To address these concerns, we kindly request the following actions be taken:
1. Workload Assessment and Time Studies: Conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the workload assigned to claims adjusters, taking into consideration the complexity and volume of the cases. This assessment should include conducting time studies to accurately assess the time required for various tasks performed by claims adjusters. By analyzing the time taken for different tasks, management can make data-driven decisions to optimize workflow, allocate resources effectively, and set more realistic expectations for claims adjusters.
2. Realistic Expectations: Establish clear and achievable goals that consider the available resources, expertise, and timeframes. Setting realistic expectations will not only improve the accuracy and quality of our work but also foster a positive and collaborative work environment.
3. Resource Allocation: Evaluate the availability and adequacy of resources necessary for claims adjusters to handle their caseload effectively. Based on the findings of the workload assessment and time studies, ensure that claims adjusters have the necessary staffing, technological tools, and training to handle their workload efficiently.
4. Employee Retention Strategies: Recognize the importance of employee retention and implement strategies to address the concerns raised by claims adjusters. This may include providing opportunities for career growth, creating a supportive work environment in line with Nationwide’s core values, and offering competitive compensation and benefits packages. Taking proactive measures to prioritize employee well-being and job satisfaction will contribute to the retention of experienced and dedicated claims adjusters.
5. The current staffing levels at Nationwide in relation to the regulations set forth by the Department of Insurance (DOI) are a matter of concern. The DOI regulations emphasize the need for insurance companies to maintain appropriate staffing to ensure efficient and quality service to policyholders. However, it is evident that Nationwide is not meeting these requirements. The lack of sufficient staffing has resulted in significant challenges, including excessive workloads, increased pressure on claims adjusters, and prolonged claim processing times.
These circumstances not only compromise the quality of claims handling but also have the potential to negatively impact customer satisfaction and the overall reputation of the company. It is imperative for Nationwide to take immediate action to address this staffing shortfall and ensure compliance with DOI regulations to safeguard the well-being of claims adjusters and deliver the level of service that policyholders deserve.
6. Compliance with OSHA Work Fatigue Requirements: We would like to bring to your attention the importance of compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines regarding work fatigue. OSHA recognizes the significant impact of long work hours and excessive workloads on employee health and safety. As an employer, it is crucial to prioritize the well-being of claims adjusters and ensure compliance with OSHA standards to prevent work-related injuries and accidents.
We request that Nationwide thoroughly review and assess its current policies and practices to ensure compliance with OSHA guidelines related to work fatigue. This includes monitoring and managing work hours, implementing appropriate rest periods and establishing protocols for workload management to prevent chronic fatigue and mitigate the associated risks.
We believe that by addressing these concerns and aligning the work environment with Nationwide’s core values, you will demonstrate your commitment to the well-being and success of your claims adjusters. This will foster an environment conducive to employee retention and allow Nationwide to continue providing exceptional service to policyholders.
We sincerely hope that this letter serves as a catalyst for positive change and encourages an open dialogue between management and claims adjusters. We kindly request a response to acknowledge the receipt of this grievance and to indicate the steps that will be taken to address the concerns.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.
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