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Aflac - HR Executive of the Year


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Company: Aflac, Columbus, GA
Entry Submitted By: HK Strategies
Company Description: Aflac is a Fortune 500 company, providing financial protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. When a policyholder or insured gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fairly, promptly and directly to the insured. For nearly six decades, Aflac voluntary insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress.
Nomination Category: Human Resources Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Human Resources Executive of the Year

Nomination Title: Matthew Owenby, senior vice president and chief human resources officer, Aflac

Tell the story about what this nominee has achieved since January 1, 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

As senior vice president and CHRO, Matthew Owenby has strengthened Aflac’s workforce by increasing employee productivity and engagement. To bolster Aflac employees’ professional and personal development with a goal of increasing employee morale and engagement during 2016, which currently stands at 88 percent, Owenby created and implemented programs like Aflac’s Care Centers, Career Success Center, Real Talk and the Knowledge Sharing Network, and simultaneously shared his insights with the HR industry.

Owenby’s accomplishments have not only created an engaged workforce, but have fortified Aflac’s bottom line. His efforts concentrated on restructuring Aflac’s benefits program offerings have resulted in savings of $100 million annually for the next five years while maintaining top tier benefits for employees. Furthermore, his management has led to a 48 percent increase in employee learning initiative participation, all while reducing operational costs by $2 million since 2013.

Aflac Care Centers:

To start, Owenby re-examined the only part-time health clinic on Aflac’s Columbus campus. After reviewing how employees utilized its services, he realized that a more streamlined system with full-time access was needed. Under his guidance, Aflac opened two full-time clinics – which were so well-received that Aflac plans on expanding to other locations this year. Aflac Care Centers offer acute and primary care with quality service and accessible amenities. Employees have access to appointments, with the only fee being a $5 copay, regardless of their coverage. Patients receive pharmaceutical services, including medication dispensing of generic drugs free of charge. Owenby identified this opportunity to transform the Aflac workforce’s health and well-being, leading to higher employee satisfaction, morale, health outcomes and productivity.

Career Success Center

To ensure Aflac maintains its industry-leading professional advantages, Owenby developed and managed the Career Success Center (CSC), designed entirely to help Aflac employees advance. The CSC improves the way Aflac trains and develops top talent and reinvented how Aflac employees are coached, empowered, consulted and assisted as they grow into company leaders. Services include career guidance testing, résumé consultation, mock interviews, career coaching, career awareness and volunteering opportunities. Most notably, of those employees participating in CSC sessions last year, 40.2 percent received promotions.

Real Talk

In tandem with Owenby’s focus on improving employee retention, he identified a need for more transparent and consistent communication between Aflac’s leaders and employees. Understanding that ongoing opportunities to engage with the company’s leaders would be vital to continued employee satisfaction and retaining talent, he further developed Aflac’s Real Talk program during 2016, which provides employees an opportunity to speak with leaders in an intimate setting. The program fosters open discussion on topics that inspire personal and professional growth.

Knowledge Sharing Network

Owenby has been instrumental in facilitating the professional and personal development of Aflac employees through Aflac’s Knowledge Sharing Network (KSN), which promotes leadership, learning and development. The KSN creates a high-impact learning organization that reflects Aflac values, processes and practices, encouraging individuals — and the organization as a whole — to increase knowledge, competence and performance. It also encourages employees to explore paths outside of their comfort zone and challenges them to grow within the company and in their personal lives.

Industry Expert

Owenby has proven himself an industry resource to arm HR professionals with pertinent resources about benefits-related research that they can leverage in their own workplaces. He served as the champion and spokesperson for the Aflac WorkForces Report (AWR) and Open Enrollment (OE) Survey; research that examines employee and employer benefits trends and attitudes. As a result, he was featured as an expert in national and industry trade media, including Forbes and U.S. News & World Report. With Owenby as the face of the campaign, AWR and OE media coverage generated 2.3 billion media impressions from 2015 through 2016.

Through Owenby’s creativity and management, Aflac has achieved an environment that fosters leadership, learning and development. In turn, Aflac was recognized as a best place to work by prestigious accolades, giving it a competitive advantage.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) accomplishments of the nominee since the beginning of 2016 (up to 150 words).

•Aflac Care Center: Over 5,224 employees received care, resulting in nearly $1.3 million in savings, and an estimated $2 million impact on payroll and productivity. It has nearly tripled in popularity, rising from 1,275 visits in 2015 to 3,937 visits in 2016, with an ROI of 175 percent.
•Career Success Center: In 2016, CSC had an average of 59 monthly visitors. The CSC has quadrupled in the number of completed sessions since 2014, increasing from 430 in 2014 to nearly 1,800 sessions in 2016.
•Real Talk: To date, 426 team members have participated in Real Talk sessions with 38 different senior leaders. Participants rated their experience with the program a 4.85 out of 5.0.
•Knowledge Sharing Network: Nearly 170 team members participated in the program in 2016. The KSN had 81 completed participation sessions in 2014 and progressed to reach a total of 412 members in 2016.