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Hartford Plans to Cut at Least 500 Jobs Over the Next 18 Months

Source: Hartford Courant

Posted on 04 Oct 2011

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The Hartford is planning to cut at least 500 jobs over the next 18 months to its customer service and back-office administration, adding to about 2,200 positions already eliminated in Connecticut over several years.

The Hartford would not say how many jobs are affected or how many are in Connecticut, where The Hartford has 10,400 employees. But some employees who spoke anonymously put the total figure at between 500 and 600, and said customer service jobs would be heavily targeted.

The Hartford Financial Services Group has not yet determined exactly where the cuts will be, sources said.

The Hartford reported a $2.6 billion quarterly loss due to bad investments in the third quarter of 2008, and was forced to seek a capital boost from German insurer Allianz, and later a federal bailout. In the three years since then, the Hartford has cut its home state workforce by 2,200, or about 17 percent.

Still, The Hartford remains by far the largest employer in the state among insurers. Aetna, the next largest, has about 7,000, mostly in Hartford.

"We've determined that we're really going to fundamentally transform the way The Hartford operates, by really creating a simpler, more efficient and flexible organization," spokesman David Snowden said. "We do expect to reduce staff as a result of these efforts. That said, we will continue to hire in growth areas, and we're really committed to redeploying current employees who may affected by the reductions into the growth areas as much as possible, and this really should reduce the total number of employees who are displaced."

Snowden said The Hartford has "done a solid job over the last few years significantly improving the financial strength of the company and so we are confident there's actually additional opportunity for improvement of....operations in general."

Employees were told about the latest round of cuts late this week, sources said. The cuts will affect the company's finance departments and administrative operations, which includes call centers, processing of bills among other functions.

As part of this round of consolidation, Snowden said some work currently done by employees would move to vendors overseas. The company will also contract with U.S. vendors, he said. Two employees seeking anonymity said work would move to Asia, but Snowden would not say where work would be moved.

In June, The Hartford said it would close a large call center in Southington, transferring the employees to other offices in Connecticut. As of earlier this year, that center employed more than 700 people on-site and another 130 who worked from home. The center was recognized this year by J.D. Power and Associates for the sixth year in a row as offering "an outstanding customer service experience."

The company's total employment has been cut from 31,000 at the end of 2008 to 25,000 as of Friday.