A CEO’s Insights

Brought to you by our Research Sponsor, Pinnacol Assurance

Pandemic Lessons for the Workplace

How did you mark the one-year anniversary of the COVID shutdown? At Pinnacol Assurance, we sent t-shirts to all our employees listing our company’s COVID-year statistics: 13 million emails; 1.8 million Gchat messages; 72,787 video calls. Our 655 team members (including 54 new hires over the year) adopted 38 pets, and we donated $2.8 million in COVID-specific grants and our ongoing community grant-making and scholarship programs.

Like band t-shirts listing all the concert dates of a given tour, these numbers are a fun way to acknowledge a memorable year and our employees’ place within it. But there are plenty of statistics that illustrate the potentially lasting significance of this “year of living differently” for our economy in a more sobering way.

Some of them (taken from a recent Forbes article referring to a variety of sources) point to win-win lessons and outcomes for both companies and their employees:

  • $11,000: amount an employer can save per employee annually by having them work remotely half the time
  • $4,367: amount the average worker saved by eliminating their commute over the past year

My own company saw significant increases in productivity measures and best-ever net promoter scores from our policyholders and injured workers – indicating that our team members doubled down on their commitment to service over a year of working from home.

Other statistics from that same Forbes article, though, indicate a more nuanced picture of the impacts of forced remote work:

  • The average workday increased by 49 minutes
  • Employees left 33% of their PTO on the table
  • Emails sent after business hours increased by 8.3%

For a company like Pinnacol that believes in work-life balance, those statistics give me pause. Our employee engagement score was an unheard-of 83% at the end of 2020, and our employees told us that the thing they value most about working here is work-life balance. These reactions from our team members are precious assets, and we don’t want to jeopardize them. It’s one thing for employees to register best-ever engagement scores in a year when everyone is working from home and their leaders are making every effort to connect, motivate and inspire – expecting all the while that these circumstances are time-limited. But it is another to maintain that hard-won sense of mission as we emerge from the pandemic. We must acknowledge this last year was unique. And as we shift to a hybrid model, we must balance the need to retain high expectations and creative methods of motivation with the grace of saying: Take a break; take a breath; take a rest. You’ve earned it.


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About Phil Kalin

Phil Kalin joined Pinnacol Assurance as CEO in 2013. He has served as the chief executive of both public and privately-backed companies, including large hospital systems, as well as organizations focused on health care data, technology and education. He has been active nationally on health care topics related to insurance, data analytics, technology innovation, cost improvement and risk mitigation. Phil is providing an informed opinion on what we see in the Monthly Economic Indicators.

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About Pinnacol

Pinnacol Assurance is the Metro Denver EDC's Research Sponsor. Pinnacol is Colorado’s leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance. Pinnacol provides comprehensive, competitively priced coverage; immediate attention to claims; a highly qualified network of medical providers; and proactive safety programs to more than 55,000 Colorado businesses. Annually, Pinnacol supports nearly $500 million of Colorado’s economic activity, spends over 35,000 hours keeping Colorado worksites safe and provides compassionate care to over 40,000 Coloradans injured on the job.

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