Washington–Chubb Corp. Chairman John Finnegan said at an industry news conference today that a test has revealed flexible work schedules can both attract and retain high quality insurance employees and boost overall production.

At an event sponsored by the BOLD initiative, Mr. Finnegan, who is also Chubb’s chief executive officer, gave a very positive review to a pilot project the company has implemented in its Western Claims Service Center in Phoenix that established a team-based flexible work schedule for employees.

Although he acknowledged that, as a CEO, he was “somewhat skeptical” about flexible work schedules, Mr. Finnegan said the pilot program was a large success that “not only increased employee satisfaction but also increased productivity.”

The initial pilot program was begun at the Western Claims Center for a number of reasons, he explained, most notably because there are measurable quantitative and qualitative metrics that could be monitored.

In addition, the center had a wide diversity in its employees, including single parents, dual income homes and singles with varying child or elderly care needs. Additionally, he noted that “a number of competing financial services companies had moved into the area” and that Chubb was competing for employees.

According to Chubb, the results of the pilot program exceeded the goal of a 5 percent improvement in overall performance. The company said that under the pilot program, the number of claims handled by each adjuster rose 18 percent without a decline in quality and 7 percent more customer telephone calls were routed to claims representatives rather than voicemail.

Additionally, 4 percent more claim payments were processed within 24 hours and 7 percent more claim filed were closed. Employees participating in the program also took on additional functions, including issuing 740 payments, logging first notice of loss faxes and providing call center coverage for an additional 44 hours.

Mr. Finnegan said the program showed that flexible work schedules were a “win-win for both the company and its employees.”

Although the pilot program was initiated with only a small part of the claims center staff, Mr. Finnegan said that the program would be “expanded aggressively” there and would be started at the company’s Roanoke, Va.-based Eastern Claims Center this fall.

The BOLD initiative, which stands for Business Opportunities for Leadership Diversity, is a non-profit organization which seeks to create work environments that allow companies to find talented minority and female executives.

In addition to Mr. Finnegan, the concept of flexible hours was given support by Craig Dubow, Gannett Company president and CEO, as well executives with the BOLD initiative.

BOLD said that other companies also examining flexible hours include Johnson & Johnson, Pepsico and Prudential Financial.