News and updates for in-the-know vintage insurance experts and those who value their talents.
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Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick
We are entering a down market. At least, that’s what many investors are now thinking as 2022 rolls on. There are a lot of factors contributing to this challenging economic environment, from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and worldwide labor shortage to supply-chain problems and growing geopolitical tensions. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what the future might hold—financially, professionally, interpersonally, globally.
But if we’ve learned anything from previous recessions, it’s that times like these provide opportunities for businesses to improve. How? Recessive markets require that we, as business leaders, double down on our values and focus on delivering the best possible products and services for our customers. And the surest way to do that? Innovate.
“A difficult economic environment argues for the need to innovate more, not to pull back,” American Express’s CEO, Ken Chenault, said in 2008.

Many organizations are referring to their next phase of post-pandemic life as a “return to the office.” But this terminology doesn’t quite compute with what life today is like. There is no “return” when it comes to our work lives—the work life we knew in 2019 has changed, and changed forever. We are headed in a new direction, and the “way we’ve always done things” won’t cut it. That new direction that requires new thinking, new ideas, new operating procedures.
One of the most important ways that businesses can innovate is by looking at their existing work models and challenging the status quo. During the pandemic, we learned that just because we all used to commute into a physical office for eight hours a day, five days a week doesn’t mean it’s the right—or only—way to do business. Remote work and hybrid environments have been proven to be beneficial to both employers and employees, and they’re here to stay.
Similarly, looking ahead, we need to further examine our processes and procedures and figure out if what we’re doing is the best possible thing for our customers, our operations, and our people. Just because we’ve always delivered products this way, for instance, doesn’t mean it’s the best (or only) route. Maybe there’s a new solution. Maybe there’s even a new product! Keep the lines of communication open with your both your customers and your employees to figure out what’s working well now, and what their pain points are. You may just discover a better way to do things.
A popular 19th-century English nursery rhyme goes: “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick!” The belief then was that good fortune could be had by jumping over a flame—i.e., an obstacle—instead of trying to extinguish it. Now’s the time to be like Jack: nimble, quick, and, above all else, willing to pivot in new directions to soar higher than before.
Sharon Emek, PhD, CIC
CEO and President, Work At Home Vintage Experts
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Championing The Greatest Talent
Two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s become abundantly clear that flexible schedules and remote work are the way of the future. Since the first work-from-home mandates cropped up in March 2020, on-the-job productivity has gone up, costs have gone down and—perhaps most important—employees are happier, healthier and more motivated than ever.
But while the advantages of hybrid and flexible workplaces have been well documented when it comes to performance, morale and work-life balance, a recent New York Times article brought to my attention one additional, absolutely critical benefit: diversity.
The article, published earlier this month, noted that remote work and flexible arrangements could be particularly helpful for those who often feel marginalized—or, worse, alienated—by traditional cube life. For example, the flexibility of remote work affords caretakers, who are predominantly women, the opportunity to attend to children and other dependents without feeling like they are failing to meet professional demands. Meanwhile, the lack of in-office face time and water-cooler conversations shift the focus more to the work at hand, dampening the dynamics of office politics and, particularly for people of color, reducing exposure to exclusionary microaggressions while highlighting and promoting based on achievements.
“There are people of color whose colleagues wouldn’t stop asking them how to work the copy machine. There are the introverts who never wanted to chat about fantasy football leagues,” the New York Times writes. It’s no surprise, then, that “some of the companies now attempting to call their staff back are facing a wave of resistance from workers emboldened to question the way things always were — which is to say, difficult for many people.”
According to a survey of 10,000 office workers conducted last year by Future Forum, 86% of Hispanic and 81% of black knowledge workers in the United States said they prefer hybrid or remote work (compared with 75% of white knowledge workers), while 50% of worker mothers globally reported wanting to work from home most or all of the time (compared with 43% of fathers). Perhaps most telling, since last May, a sense of “belonging” at work has shot up for 24% of black knowledge workers, compared with just 5% for white workers.
The New York Times article goes on to tell the story of Kristen Egziabher, a project manager in Texas, who felt she was passed over for a promotion pre-pandemic because colleagues felt they only knew her work, and not her personally. “No matter her productivity, her colleagues seemed to care primarily about the chitchat—what’d you do last weekend, where’d you get that purse?” the New York Times reported. Egziabher, who is black, “felt that her white co-workers were fixated on who was jostling for entry to their in-group.”
Just a few months after the shift to remote work, however, Egziabher got a promotion and an 11% raise: “If I had continued going into the office,” she told the paper, “there might have been some excuse around likability.”
Perhaps the real kicker to the story is this, though: Egziabher eventually left that company for another one that offered her a full-time remote position, with the newspaper noting that she says “a little prayer of thanks for what remote work has allowed”: a focus on the work.
The benefits of diversity in the workplace have been researched and proven countless times, from generating greater innovation and creativity to producing better business results: Companies with diverse workforces are 35% likelier to experience greater financial returns, in fact. And that doesn’t even take into account the positive impact of corporate diversity from a racial and social-justice standpoint. It’s the right thing to do.
As business leaders, our job is to bring out the best in our people, day in and day out. That includes creating an environment that makes them feel seen, supported and inspired. To that end, hybrid and flexible work arrangements are no longer simply a “nice to have.” They’re an essential tool for attracting, retaining, motivating and championing the greatest talent from every corner of the globe.
WAHVE is an innovative contract talent solution that matches retiring, experienced career professionals with a company's talent needs. WAHVE bridges the gap between an employer's need for highly skilled professional talent and seasoned professionals desiring to extend their career working from home. From screening to placement, WAHVE is a comprehensive solution to qualifying, hiring, and managing experienced remote talent.
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