Utah’s UI Program Excels in Providing Exceptional Customer Service

The U.S. Department of Labor recently released their January-March 2016 quarterly report on the status of the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program. Around the same time, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report on customer service within the national UI landscape. 

Customer service for employers is to responsibly run the UI program

We are most successful when employers are hiring Utah’s skilled workforce. In the last 12 months, Utah employers have invested almost $56 billion through wages into the economy. UI coverage is a small portion of this, less than 0.6% of total wages or $60 for every $10,000 in wages paid.

Over the last year, about 1 in 10 individuals filing for unemployment benefits has been attached to a specific employer. This means that they generally expect to return to full-time work with the same company in the next 2-3 months. These employers are investing in the temporary assistance of unemployment insurance to retain a skilled workforce.

Our program provides temporary assistance for individuals filing for unemployment benefits, while they leverage their skills and experience to return to work.

We continue to rank as the 5th healthiest trust fund in the nation. Utah employers are benefiting from this with a 12.7 percent average reduction in their liability from 2015 to 2016.

Customer service for individuals who are unemployed is to be accessible

The Government Accountability Office provided some recommendations for states to improve their customer service. This included suggestions like providing self-service options on the state website and implementing an automated phone system. Utah has been offering these options for more than 10 years.

About 7 in 10 new claims are filed through our website and 94 percent of eligible individuals receive payment within three weeks. We have been recognized by the Department of Labor as the top performing medium-sized state when it comes to timeliness and high-quality for five years and counting.

We continuously strive to be responsive to the needs of Utah workers. In September 2015, we released a new system that allows individuals to request a call-back during periods of high call volume. Mondays are much busier than Wednesdays or Thursdays as individuals are reporting to receive their weekly unemployment benefit. During these busy times, an individual can elect to have us call them back directly when their place in line comes up rather than waiting on hold.

We offer an online chat feature for someone to speak with a representative immediately. We also recognize that online access is not feasible for everyone and we work closely with the local employment centers to make accommodations for individuals with challenges using technology, limited English proficiency, or other barriers.

Customer service for the community is to facilitate re-employment

Our unemployment claim system is synched with our workforce development partners. An individual who files for unemployment will automatically be directed to jobs in their area with instructions on how to apply and information on average wages and training expectations for different occupations.

A highlight of the recent Department of Labor quarterly summary shows that 74.3 percent of workers stop filing before they exhaust their benefits, often because they have returned to work.  Compare this to the national average of 62.8 percent and Utah is ranked No. 5 in the nation.

We collaborate closely with employment centers across Utah to provide local resources to the local communities. Finding a job in Blanding is going to be a different experience from finding a job in the Wasatch Front area. Understanding the community is critical to engaging resources for an individual to return to work.

Utah Department of Workforce Services Cornerstone Principal: Exceptional Customer Service

Like many companies, the success of our own employees is critical to providing a high level of customer service. We, too, invest in training and professional development. We are committed to setting clear performance expectations, with the foundation that we address interactions with customers in a way that is efficient and meaningful.

As stewards of the public trust, our goal is to provide exceptional customer service. When unemployment does happen, we’re here to support employers and employees.

Click here for more information about Utah's Unemployment Insurance Program.