Addressing Staff Challenges While Modernizing Unemployment Insurance Systems

Over the last fifteen years, we have seen outdated unemployment insurance (UI) computer systems collapse in the face of the great recession and the recent unemployment surge due to the pandemic, leaving millions of jobless Americans to deal with unresponsive government websites that provide no way of accessing their unemployment benefits.

While many states have already taken steps towards modernizing their unemployment insurance systems, State Workforce agencies still face several challenges today. A recent survey showed that the primary concerns faced by State Workforce agencies are issues with outdated technology, delays in processing claims, fraudulent and improper payments, constituent engagement. Over 68 percent claimed that the biggest hurdle they faced was related to staffing.

Let’s take a closer look at these workforce challenges and what State Workforce agencies can do to ensure a positive ‘people aspect’ about modernization.

Workforce Management– Changing Imperatives for State Workforce Agencies

The shift from mainframe-based legacy systems to much more modern solutions is set to transform unemployment insurance by speeding up claim processing, improving the experience for constituents, eliminating fraudulent claims, and reducing operational costs. While the adoption of cutting-edge, cloud-native solutions like the Infosys LaborForce System has the potential to redefine unemployment insurance systems, it is also necessary to incorporate contemporary workforce management processes to streamline the internal workings of State Workforce agencies.

As State Workforce agencies make the switch to modernized systems, they must also take the time to ensure that their staff has a clear understanding of the benefits and how they fit into the modernized organization. The key workforce challenges that can present themselves during a system modernization include:

  • an inability or hesitation to adapt to new systems, processes, and methods,
  • inadequate training on how to make the most efficient use of new technology, and
  • lack of awareness about the benefits of modern systems

State Workforce insurance agencies need to meet these workforce development challenges head-on by fostering a culture of modernization across the agency to ensure that the workforce is acclimated to the idea of constant innovation and optimization. Below are a few ways State Workforce insurance agencies can get the most from their staff during their modernization journey.

Adopt New Workflows and Methods

Long-term employees can be extremely set in their ways and resistant to change. It is crucial to make them comfortable by demonstrating how the new technology can streamline workflows, speed up processes, and better equip them to address the needs of constituents. It is also important that the staff understand the improved security and resilience of modern systems.

Spread Awareness of the New Systems through Training and Organizational Change Management

To make the most of updated systems, State Workforce agency staff must be adequately trained to execute their duties. Agency staff, to include technical staff, need to undergo structured training and organizational change management programs to understand the capabilities and benefits of the new, cloud-native solution. Investing in staff training and organizational change management will help ensure employees adapt to the new system rather than forcing the system to operate using the outdated methods to which they are accustomed.

Lessen the Burden on Staff

Applying modern solutions to unemployment insurance workflows can significantly reduce staff workload while also speeding up processing for Tax, Benefits, Appeals, and Workforce programs. This advantage helps employees be more responsive and flexible to adopting the change in workflow. Contemporary cloud-native solutions, like the Infosys LaborForce, opens the door to

  • automation in the adjudication process,
  • self-service through websites or portals that answer simple queries and allow employers and claimants to check on the status of their accounts, and
  • provide staff with access to detailed information on constituent’s previous interactions with the agency.
  • the system can also update unemployed individuals on unemployment benefit requirements and possible job opportunities through automated text and email alerts.

These are just a few ways in which a modern unemployment insurance system can take over routine tasks, leaving staff to solve more complicated issues and work on core processes.

There are many advantages to adopting digital workforce management approaches that incorporate staff into the overall modernization program. State Workforce agencies that rely on a comprehensive modernization program can enable expansion of coverage of all areas of UI and ensure that constituents have seamless and uninterrupted access to information and timely benefits.

States must ensure that the process of upgrading their systems includes a focus on transforming workforce management to ensure that employees, as well as constituents, are comfortable interacting with the upgrades and can use the new systems efficiently and effectively.

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Author Details

Stephanie Puryear, Principal Consultant – National Labor Practice, Infosys Public Services
Stephanie Puryear

Stephanie has 20 years of experience helping Labor and Workforce Departments administer Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs effectively. She has delivered UI solutions in 5 states and is the Manager for Business Analysis and the UI PMO for LaborForce. Stephanie has designed highly user-friend systems and is expert on helping agencies fight UI fraud.