Whether long term or short term, your remote operations can thrive.
In March 2020, the majority of the global workforce was suddenly a remote one. With a few exceptions, employers and employees alike were working from home. In many cases, there was little infrastructure in place prior to the pandemic, so the scramble was on.
In this discussion, Sharon Emek, Ph.D., CIC, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Work At Home Vintage Experts (WAHVE) shares her background and what led her to start this successful job placement company. At WAHVE, Sharon’s team places the highly skilled 50+ age demographic in successful and fulfilling remote jobs and careers across the country–primarily in the insurance, accounting, and HR fields. Sharon is frequently sought out by the media as an expert on insurance, management, and business issues.
Telework offers greater flexibility and could save billions of dollars
Over the next several months, every company in America with workers who spend most of their time on a computer has a decision to make: Which of their employees — the vast majority of whom will have been successfully working from home since March — should return to the office? And when? The answers to those questions will almost certainly prove to be a huge boon for millions of older employees in the months and years to come.
Hiring for remote insurance positions has become the norm and getting your new hires up to speed is now more challenging.
Right now, companies around the world are doing their best to operate remotely whenever possible. The insurance industry is no exception. Yet how prepared is the industry for transitioning their entire operations? The answer could mean the difference between business as usual and business in turmoil.
For a number of years, many organizations were considering how remote, work-from-home positions would fit within their company’s business operations, thinking how to implement remote work sometime in the future.
That sometime is now. COVID-19 has forced global business into remote positions, and the insurance industry has joined the ranks of businesses now operating remotely. How prepared they are for running virtual operations is another matter.
Millions of Americans are currently subject to shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders as efforts to slow the spread of the current strain of coronavirus expand, thus requiring employees across all industries to shift to performing their jobs remotely.
For many workers, including insurance agents, this shift is possible thanks to technology that is already utilized everyday such as email, smart phones, and other internet-powered communications.
For 10 years, Work at Home Vintage Experts, aka WAHVE, has been helping pre-retirees in the insurance business transition from fulltime careers in an office to working remotely, filling in talent gaps for agencies across the country. Now, in the wake of the national coronavirus outbreak, agents and brokers are being forced to work from home and effectively change how they do business. In this interview with Insurance Journal Southeast Editor Amy O’Connor, WAHVE CEO Sharon Emek offers important information and advice on how agents can be productive, safe and successful in this new work world.
Your partner is bellowing into their conference call as you try to get reports filed. Your roommate showed you six memes in the last hour. Meanwhile, your manager sent over three more requests for you to complete by end of day.
The coronavirus crisis poses major challenges to the global workforce, even for those workers fortunate enough to have secure employment that allows them to work from home. Many employees with the ability to work remotely have found themselves working alongside their partner and/or roommates for the first time, competing for limited space, internet connection and attention.
Modern technology – secure remote connectivity, the Cloud, collaborative software, VoIP phones, and smart phones – is disrupting the way we work and providing opportunities for remote out-of-office work. Many managers and employees are already working outside the office using their personal devices, but typically on an ad hoc basis without clearly written remote work best practices. Employers may have implemented security measures to protect their systems and data, but they rarely address the larger trend issue of remote work, also referred to as telecommuting. Remote-work best practices is not just about technology and security; it is also about the needs of people and companies.
More workers are seeking – and gaining – remote work. In fact the levels to which today’s employees are working remotely has grown exponentially. Global Workplace Analytics data reveals that the work-at-home, non-self-employed worker population has grown 173 percent between 2005 and 2018—11 percent more than the rest of the workforce and 47 times faster than self-employment.
Modern technology – secure remote connectivity, the Cloud, collaborative software, VoIP phones, and “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) – is disrupting the way we work and providing opportunities for remote out-of-office work. Many managers and employees are already working outside the office using their personal devices, but typically on an ad hoc basis without clearly written remote work best practices. Employers may have implemented security measures to protect their systems and data, but they rarely address the larger trend issue of remote work, also referred to as telecommuting. Remote-work best practices are not just about technology and security; it is also about the needs of people and companies. This guide will discuss the various types of remote-work options and best practices for organizations to implement a successful remote work and work-life fit program.
Today’s jobs are increasingly sedentary, driven by technology that enables more sitting and less moving. You’ve probably heard that “sitting is the new smoking” when it comes to your health. Research has linked sitting for long periods of time to high blood pressure, difficulty regulating blood sugar, and slowing metabolism — all leading to an increased risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The longer you sit, the worse it gets.
Using work-from-home arrangements to help solve all or part of your staffing needs can deliver a number of benefits. Companies can improve productivity, increase employee retention, and drive down employment-related costs. Yet perhaps the best benefits are that remote workers allow your company to get a leg up on meeting growth or expansion goals and competing much more effectively in a highly competitive market.
Retirement certainly isn’t cut and dry like it once was, but our life expectancy and economic landscape are not what they once were, either. As people live longer and need to work longer, retirement deserves a revamped definition — one that honors pretirees’ goals and needs and keeps our businesses growing, as we leverage our industry’s most experienced talent.
If you’ve ever spent an afternoon, weekend, or entire winter break holed up in a cabin putting together a puzzle, you know the joy of holding the last piece in your hand as you get ready to snap it into place and see the complete picture. Or, maybe you’ve experienced the letdown of being one piece away from finishing the puzzle, only to find that the missing piece isn’t anywhere to be found.
Carriers and agencies looking to hire employees already know the problem: demand is much greater than supply. According to a study by The Jacobson Group and Aon’s Ward Group, 63% of companies reported they’d be increasing their staff in 2019.
Yet whether they can do that remains questionable. The national unemployment rate through July 2019 was just 3.7% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the insurance industry, the rate is a mere 1.7%.
That means plenty of competition for the talent that’s out there. And that’s another part of the problem; there simply isn’t enough talent to go around. It’s a situation that’s going to get worse, according to a Deloitte Consulting report, which reveals that by 2020 the insurance industry will have 400,000 openings.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is arguably the most significant modern influence on the labor economy. Technology that automates and completes tasks previously accomplished by humans, AI can seem like a threat to many positions that countless people rely on for employment and steady income. But the implications of AI aren’t so much that work opportunities are lost, but rather reconfigured.
Fed up with living in an expensive city or community? Eager to bring your stress level down? Interested in working hours you prefer and from your home? That may sound like a TV infomercial, but the fact is: working remotely in a low-cost area is becoming easier at a time when it’s also becoming more appealing.
Talent, talent and talent—that’s the key to a great company.
Yet finding the right talent has become more challenging, particularly if your search is limited to a local candidate pool. With baby boomers retiring, that problem is about to increase substantially. The rumored talent gap in insurance is real, and it’s growing.
If you’re like many of today’s 50- and 60-somethings, you’re not ready to stop working — and why should you? Outdated cultural notions about the “right time” to retire are gradually being replaced with new models that value experienced workers. While money and access to healthcare motivate many people to stay employed, there’s another compelling reason to postpone retirement: your health.
“WAHVE dispels two myths,” said Emek. “One is that people who are retired or pre-tired are not tech savvy. And the other is that they’ll be slower and less productive than other employees.” Today, Emek has 400 clients and the surveys she’s conducted with them regularly say her WAHVE workers are highly productive and have computer skills as good or better than the firms’ other employees.
“Your company benefits. More importantly, creating an age-diverse workforce can vastly improve the knowledge, skills and productivity of your employees. By embracing and integrating an older workforce with younger workers who bring new methods and ideas to the table, you can create an unstoppable team that can bring a more comprehensive approach to your business.” – Sharon Emek
In a competitive hiring environment, making the most of every employee’s skills is essential to a company’s success. By focusing on how you can capitalize on the skills of a veteran workforce, your company could see an improved knowledge base, a wider range of skills and talent, and an improved level of productivity among all your employees.
Flexible hours, 30-second commutes — and the ultimate in business-casual clothing. No wonder so many older adults are intrigued by the idea of a job they can do at home.
No wonder, too, that so many work-from-home scams are out there — 60 to 70 fake jobs for every legitimate listing, estimates Sara Sutton, CEO of FlexJobs, an employment search site specializing in telecommuting, part-time and freelance jobs.
Fraudulent postings aside, technology has boosted the growth of home-based employment in recent years: FlexJobs, for one, reports that its remote job listings grew 52 percent from 2015 to 2017; the most common categories are sales, medical and health, education and training, customer service, and computer and information technology.
As expected lifespan continues to increase, a growing number of people are experiencing years of additional physical and mental prime as we are living younger longer. More veteran professionals are rethinking retirement, hungry to bring their deep expertise and an ongoing desire to work to an economy that stands to gain richly by leveraging them, provided employers are willing to compensate them with qualitative adjustments to working conditions that reflect aging professionals’ priorities.
Many of us have a hobby that falls under the umbrella of the arts—dance, instrumental music or singing, visual arts like painting and drawing and even sculpture, sewing and quilting, storytelling and poetry writing. As we age, the importance of holding fast to these vital parts of ourselves seems only to increase.
Applied Client Network – Connections | August 22, 2018
Don’t look now, but the workforce as we know it is changing.
Thanks to an ever-evolving digital landscape, companies and employees are reshaping the traditional employer-employee relationship into a more adaptive one. Gone are the walls and cubicles, replaced by remote work arrangement and IT-powered connectivity that rivals the face-to-face relationship.
A 2016 Global Challenges Insight Report, entitled “The Future of Jobs” and produced by the World Economic Forum, reveals that changing work environments and flexible working arrangements are the top drivers of change in the global workforce, ushering in what experts are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Report reveals that technology is driving that transformation, empowering companies to reach beyond established borders.
“Indeed, with the combination of a low unemployment rate and a rising tide of boomers heading for retirement, many companies are turning to their recent retirees to help them meet their staffing needs.”
Many businesses are facing a critical shortage of experienced professionals, with industries such as accounting citing “lack of skilled personnel” as the #1 challenge for three quarters in a row. Much of the conversation is centered on the skills gap, high retirement rates for “boomers,” and the inability to find the skills employers are looking for in the younger workforce.
How one staffing company helps professionals in their golden years to continue their work from home.
When Sharon Emek looked at the state of the insurance industry, she saw a massive problem with fostering young talent. But she also saw an opportunity for those entering retirement who wanted to ditch the commute and awkward office small talk without losing the satisfaction of doing a job well and earning a paycheck. In 2010, she founded Work at Home Vintage Employees (WAHVE), a staffing company focused on placing recently retired professionals back into the workforce without making them get out of their pajamas.
Accounting, like many professions, is experiencing a shrinking talent pool as boomers retire and younger generations are opting for other careers.
I recently received a call from a public accounting firm whose client was struggling to find the right candidate for a corporate accounting position. They needed someone who had the experience necessary to help them with monthly reporting, ad hoc projects, and corporate accounting work. In our work qualifying and matching “pretired” veteran accounting professionals to company’s specific accounting staffing needs, we had just the right vintage talent to meet the job requirements.
You’re not losing control over your employee; you’re gaining a valuable business boost when you employ staff remotely—a tactic that appeals to both the youngest and oldest segments of the workforce. Here, Sharon Emek, CEO of WAHVE, explains the three reasons why remote workers can be your best business advantage: borderless talent options; increased productivity and lower business costs.
Summer is upon us, and by now many of us find ourselves moving out of the hibernation mode that takes over in winter and the chilly early months of spring. Those cold, slow months impact our ability to get out, see others, stay engaged, and this can perpetuate feelings of loneliness and lack of connection.
The prospects for getting hired when you’re over 50 are often, sadly, dim. But two unconventional, age-blind companies with unconventionally pronounced names — Tilr (“tiller”) and WAHVE (“wave”) — just might change things for older job seekers. And not a moment too soon.
Known for their prioritizing of personal values over pecuniary interests, Millennials are considered the generation most likely to challenge the practices of the traditional workforce and radically shift the working landscape. While they’re certainly driving the working world to reconsider its practices, it’s older Americans who are more extensively embodying these qualities most stereotypically attributed to the youngest generation in the workforce.
Reflecting on the efforts of the small Baltic nation Estonia to become a “digital republic,” encouraging remote businesses outside of its borders to put down “virtual roots” to fuel innovation there, Sharon Emek, CEO of WAHVE, the remote staffing firm for insurance and accounting, argues that technological advancement should drive American companies, including U.S. insurers, toward working dynamics that defy proximity, time zones, nationality and background.
“It’s very hard when you spend the majority of your life working and all of a sudden you’re doing nothing,” she said. “You can’t go cold turkey into retirement. We have done a lot of things and we have a lot of knowledge. We travel, we do yoga, and we stay active, which our parents’ generation didn’t do. Boomers are creating a new paradigm.”
According to Insurance Business America, 25% of today’s insurance workforce is expected to retire in 2018. That will add to the over 200,000 open positions in the insurance industry that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says will go unfilled. Don’t expect the situation to improve with time, either. The BLS predicts that half of today’s insurance workforce will be retired in the next 15 years.
There’s a crisis unfolding within the insurance industry, and it will touch nearly every carrier and agency, large or small. It’s an issue that will impact operations and profitability — it’s the retiring workforce.
New insight shows that America’s oldest generation is adopting millennial-centric careers faster than their intended audience.
Known for their prioritizing of personal values over pecuniary interests, millennials are considered to be the generation most likely to challenge the practices of the traditional workforce and radically shift the working landscape. While they’re certainly driving the working world to reconsider its practices, it’s older Americans who are more extensively embodying these qualities most stereotypically attributed to the youngest generation in the workforce.
Suffice to say, mentoring a millennial helps both the mentor and mentee, as well as the organization at large. In addition to transferring knowledge — no small issue considering baby boomers are increasingly approaching retirement and millennials account for nearly half the employees in the world, according to some figures — the mentorship relationship can lead to better outcomes and new innovations, improving the company’s bottom line.
For entrepreneur Tim Driver, forming a company that helps people over 50 find work “started as a business idea, and then it became a passion.”
A veteran of AOL and the startup Salary.com, Driver had long wanted to launch a jobs website for older workers, as he noticed baby boomers were retiring and living longer. When his father lost his management job at a bank in his late 50s, it became the catalyst for RetirementJobs.com, focused on retired and semi-retired people.
In her 1993 book, “The Fountain of Age,” Betty Friedan used substantial science to subvert the “age-as-problem” notion, asserting, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
Applied Client Network Connections Newsletter | October 20, 2017
One of the largest issues companies face right now is brain drain – with over 70 million baby boomers retiring, their expertise, skills and relationships are about to disappear. For insurance agencies/brokerages, that loss could mean the difference between remaining competitive and losing business.
It seems that the insurance industry has been talking about it for a while – hiring is about to become a challenge. Yet the challenge is here, and the search for talent is already proving difficult.
According to the 2017 Insurance Industry Employment and Hiring Outlook Survey conducted by GreatInsuranceJobs.com, the industry is making up ground, but is still quite far behind the curve when it comes to filling open positions.
In old-school retirement, you got the gold watch and were shown the door. Unfortunately, not only did you carry your office belongings out in a cardboard box, you also carried out a career’s worth of knowledge and know-how. That’s a tough loss for any industry, but particularly for the insurance industry, which has been struggling to attract and keep talent for years.
Applied Client Network Connections Newsletter | September 7, 2017
Sometimes an idea is just too good to pass on. And yet many companies do.
Take the remote workforce, for example. For far too long, a number of companies have shunned the idea that remote workers fit within their business objectives. Remote workers are difficult to manage (we can’t see them, so how do we know what they’re doing?), to communicate with, to work with .. and the list of reasons goes on.
The tougher the challenge, the better for your brain.
A new study conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital looked at the brains of active older adults, or “superagers” – defined as people aged 80 or older with memory performance equivalent to or better than healthy people twenty or even thirty years younger. The brain regions of superagers (a mean age of 67.8) were compared to those of both younger adults (mean age of 24.5) and typical older adults (66.2).
Time to rethink business as usual. And that includes who we perceive to be our best hires. Those could be the retiring and retired demographic.
That’s because older workers have what the millennial crowd has yet to acquire: broad experience and knowledge. The veteran workforce has proven their commitment to their companies and their industry. They understand the needs of the business and are adept at problem-solving.
On this podcast Retirepreneur’s Donna Kastner talks with WAHVE’s Sharon’s about her championing a more flexible staffing model that’s gaining attention, changing lives, and yielding impressive results for all who are involved.
With all the talk of Millennials being the future of the industry, the older generation might be being forgotten in some corners. But the insurance industry is facing an employment challenge – not just the difficulty attracting young employees, but we’re also losing a generation of knowledge as Baby Boomers retire.
Here’s a sobering thought – by next year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports there could well be upwards of 200,000 positions in the insurance industry that will go unfilled. That’s because 25% of the current insurance workforce is expected to retire in 2018, according to Insurance Business America.
Lately there’s been plenty of talk about attracting millennials to the insurance workforce. Employers are abuzz with plans to attract and recruit young talent. The only problem is the millennials aren’t showing much interest. A 2014 study conducted by The Hartford revealed that just 4 percent of millennials are drawn to the insurance industry when it comes to career options. So the industry is focusing a large portion of its efforts on appealing to them from a needs perspective.
Science continues to demonstrate that a commitment to intentional, healthy activity like walking, stretching, deep breathing, and meditation, has lasting positive impacts on our health. Professionals with sedentary jobs often feel daunted at the prospect of finding time in the workday to prioritize their health and wellness. And even remote workers like wahves, who know and benefit from the flexibility of time and location to devote to self-care, can find it difficult to set aside time for centering, healthy activity.
Insurance Journal Magazine | February 20, 2017
Insurance agencies that stress “soft” benefits have the upper hand in recruiting workers in today’s competitive job market.
Employees are increasingly seeking out “soft” benefits in addition to traditional “hard” benefits from their employers. While employees still greatly value salaries, commissions, bonuses and even stock options, they also like time off, telecommuting and training.
Insurance Thought Leadership By Rick Morgan| November 1, 2016
When it comes to retirement, a significant cultural and demographic trend is taking place. Twenty-five years ago, only about one worker in 10 planned to stay in the workforce beyond age 65. Today, that number has risen to more than 50%. In fact, according to the 16th annual Transamerica retirement survey, 82% of 60-somethings expect to work or are already working past age 65.
Providing agency or carrier staff the ability to work remotely is not longer an accommodation or a nice-to-have benefit. Remote, flexible work is now a competitive advantage. But how can firms manage this trend? Rick Morgan, SVP of Marketing at WAHVE.com himself a remote worker along with the rest of his Work at Home Vintage Experts colleagues, shares ideas that anyone charged with a remote staff should consider. Rick offers advice, too, on a number of excellent, highly useful collaboration tools to connect workers no matter where they park their laptops.
Emotional Connections.Great brands avoid selling products. Great salespeople cultivate emotional connections with customers. —Harvard Business Review, August 2016
How to Increase Sales.Discuss all coverages applicable rather than just the ones the producer/CSR thinks the client will purchase. As an additional bonus, the agency’s E&O exposure decreases. —Chris Burand, Burand & Associates
Walk Away.You can’t satisfy every customer, no matter what you do. Sure, there are those who push you to see how far they can get – even though it’s never enough. Don’t take the bait; it’s time to walk away. —John Graham, GrahamComm
PropertyCasualty360.com | June 15, 2016
Providing producers and employees the ability to work remotely and with flexibility is no longer an accommodation that an agency principal or carrier executive generously grants out of the goodness of their hearts. Rather, remote, flexible work is now a competitive advantage.
To help companies implement work-at-home environments for their staff during this Covid-19 pandemic, WAHVE has updated our Workplace Flexibility and Remote Work Best Practices Guide.Click here for a free copy of the Guide.