From customer to employee service without a hitch

By Marcia Grann O’Brien
Contributing Writer
A degree in urban studies was uncommon when Jill H. Andy graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. “I think there were four of us in the program,” she recalled. “My goal was to be a community planner, but for that I needed a master’s degree. And in a tough economy, planning is the first thing to be cut.” More

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From customer to employee service without a hitch

PLANNING AHEAD: Jill H. Andy, senior vice president of human resources at Amica Mutual Insurance Co., sent her resume into the company 23 years ago to appease her father. She’s been employed ever since.
By Marcia Grann O’Brien
Contributing Writer
Posted 5/16/11

A degree in urban studies was uncommon when Jill H. Andy graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. “I think there were four of us in the program,” she recalled. “My goal was to be a community planner, but for that I needed a master’s degree. And in a tough economy, planning is the first thing to be cut.”

“What about Amica?” her father asked of the company in which he was a policyholder.

Andy’s response was blunt. “What about it?”

“Insurance wasn’t my field, but to appease him, I sent in my resume,” Andy said.

That was nearly 23 years ago. Today, after 60 years, her father remains a satisfied customer of Amica Mutual Insurance Co. And daughter Jill is a top-notch executive with the company. “I credit my parents with every success!” she said.

Andy began her career with Amica as an associate claims adjuster in Baltimore, Md. Today, she leads the Lincoln-based company’s human resources department as its senior vice-president, serving an employee base of more than 3,200.

Over a 16-year period, she earned seven promotions while serving in Amica branches throughout the country. In 2004, Andy was named manager of the Rhode Island claims department, Amica’s flagship claims operation. She was soon tapped by CEO Robert DiMuccio to move into human resources, where she was promoted three times and named to her current position as senior vice president of human resources in 2010.

“Her selection is representative of a trend in which leaders from a company’s core business areas are selected to lead support functions, such as human resources,” said Jill Rasmussen, associate director of Web development for the company.

As a claims-operations manager, Rasmussen said, “Jill ensured the delivery of world-class customer service.”

Andy described Amica CEO DiMuccio as “a visionary who wanted to bring someone in [to human resources] from a different arena. I had been on maternity leave, I was at the top of my game in claims services when I returned; and when he offered me the human resources job I said, ‘You want me to do what?’ ”

And so it happened that Jill Andy now heads the effort to ensure that the same “exemplary customer service” enjoyed by policyholders is offered to Amica’s own employees, whom Andy describes as “our customers as well.”

Rasmussen cited Andy’s focus on improving communications, establishing wellness programs and implementing diversity initiatives as worthy of special mention.

She is credited with instituting procedures to foster open lines of communication and the sharing of accurate and up-to-date information throughout the organization. For example, she launched a Web portal, available 24/7, for all employees and pensioners to access HR-related materials and information.

Andy also established a periodic survey in which employees are asked for honest – and anonymous – feedback. In response, senior management is tasked with quickly developing improvement action plans, giving employees the encouragement and satisfaction of knowing their voices are being heard. As a member of the CEO’s Town Forum team, Andy personally visits each of Amica’s 40-plus branches every three years to listen to employees’ concerns.

Employee wellness is another key focus. “She understands the impact of rising health insurance costs on our employees as well as on the corporation,” Rasmussen said.

“She actively seeks out and promotes opportunities to reduce premiums for employees and their families, and she has created programs encouraging a healthier and ultimately more productive work force for Amica,” Rasmussen said.

Andy has brought farmers markets on-site, hosted “The Biggest Loser” seminars and scheduled healthy snack programs. Under her leadership, the HR team developed a diabetes program, which provides diabetes medications and supplies at no cost. As a result, Rasmussen said, Amica realized significant medical cost savings as well as the realization of a healthier, more productive employee base.

A third highlight of Andy’s leadership was the launch of a yearlong, formal program on diversity intended to better understand the needs of customers and the changing needs of society and its evolving demographics, such as age, education, ethnicity, and the use of social media. Diversity in voices within the company is encouraged, with an open sharing of ideas and perspectives.

Under Andy, Amica’s HR department earned the 2009 and 2010 Governor’s Wellness Award for distinguished achievement for its smoking-cessation program and nutritional-improvement initiatives. In addition, the department was recognized with a rare platinum award in 2007 by The Wellness Council of America.

Jill Andy serves the community as well. She is involved with the American Heart Association, community-health initiatives and Bryant University, and she is on the board of trustees of Meeting Street, an organization dedicated to child development and education. She lives with her husband and daughter in Norton. •

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