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Because insuring disability benefits for 171,000 companies requires a highly skilled workforce, Unum Group strives to keep as much of its amassed talent in-house as possible.
The Chattanooga, Tenn.-based insurer's dogged focus on talent retention and career development is just one aspect of the company's workplace culture that earned it a spot among Business Insurance's 2013 Best Places to Work in Insurance, its fourth appearance on the annual list in five years.
“We're dedicated to making sure that we recognize and reward talent, and making the most of that talent that we possibly can,” said Jack McGarry, Unum's executive vice president of individual disability and long-term care closed block operations. “We're very loyal to the people who work here, and that loyalty is reciprocated by the people who work here, in that they recognize that we're making those investments and that they have those opportunities.”
At Unum, Mr. McGarry and other senior executives conduct annual talent reviews to identify developmental opportunities for high-potential employees. The company's talent board meets throughout the year to discuss employees' progress, particularly for those enrolled in its professional development program, which guides candidates through a multiyear series of interdepartmental rotations in order to provide exposure and hands-on learning experiences across Unum's operations.
“Unum does a fantastic job of attracting and retaining high-quality people with high standards of performance, while maintaining an uncompromising integrity,” said Tim Kittredge, an Atlanta-based sales manager who has spent nearly two decades with Unum. “This is my 19th year with the company, and it's the only job I've ever had. It offers tremendous opportunity to bloom as a professional over the long term.”
Employees also are encouraged to bring their own ideas and strategies for career development to their supervising managers, no matter how novel.
“If there's something that you're interested in, or that you want to learn about, they'll put you in touch with the right people in order to build out a unique developmental opportunity,” said Ashley Mehrer, a Chattanooga-based director and associate life pricing actuary. “The job I'm in now didn't exist until I was here. I talked with a few different managers about what I wanted to do, and everyone I spoke with was at least willing to entertain that idea. The attitude here is much more focused on making something work rather than on all of the reasons it won't work.”