The UnitedHealth Group is a large American company that operates in the sphere of health insurance and medical services. Its revenues on a global scale are the highest in the industry, as well as its corporate culture, and human resource policies are attracting the best professionals. Such a state of affairs poses the UnitedHealth Group at a high position in the ranking of the most successful healthcare companies in the United States and the world. Human resources are considered the company’s most valuable asset that contributes to its competitive advantage and requires a vast share of investment. The assessment of a company’s human resource position is a several-stage process. It requires both analyzing and synthesizing key indicators characterizing the performance of the firm in its respective industry and its comparative advantages or disadvantages as opposed to its competitors. In this report, the UnitedHealth Group’s competitive position is assessed to introduce the most influential risks and opportunities for the company’s human resources. The analysis of these factors might be used as a basis for the future planning of human resource management systems to help the company maintain its leading position among its competitors.
Industry Competitive Position
As a company with a broad system of branches in multiple countries of the world and the variety of services provided to the clients, the UnitedHealth Group occupies a high-rank position among its competitors. The review of the UnitedHealth Group’s annual reports on finances and corporate responsibility actions provides a substantial ground for comparing the company to its main competitors in the industry. The UnitedHealth Group serves millions of people globally and generates substantial revenues of approximately $242 billion annually. The scope of revenues and the contribution of the company to the improvement of the health care systems pose the company in a high position among its competitors.
The organizational structure is one of the advantages that allow the UnitedHealth Group to obtain a winning position compared to the industry competitors. The operations of the company are divided into two departments, including Optum and UnitedHealth care. These two companies are aligned with the overall goal of the United Health Group to enhance public health and medical access for everyone. Furthermore, the corporation is subdivided into four specialized departments; each devoted to the operations in a specific healthcare-related branch, including UnitedHealth care Employer and Individual, UnitedHealth care Medicare and Retirement, UnitedHealth care Community and State, and UnitedHealth care Global. These departments are given the responsibilities according to the policy of decentralization of power in the corporation, which allows for obtaining a hands-on managerial approach within each department and resolving particular issues more effectively.
A well-developed corporate social responsibility policy of the company allows it to enhance its outreach and function more significantly as a corporation. Indeed, a significant part of the company’s investment is directed at aiding underserved populations and the development of health care services. According to the company’s reports, the UnitedHealth Group has invested in the improvement of access to health care for vulnerable populations and the facilitation of insurance programs to expand the scope of insured individuals (UnitedHealth Group, 2020a). The company also addresses the various populations in their needs for health care, nutrition, and accommodation, especially in the times of the COVID-19 public health crisis. The UnitedHealth Group has provided over $1.5 billion to populations impacted by COVID-19; the aid is manifested through discounts for insurance plans and other financial aids (UnitedHealth Group, 2020b). Such active addressing of the served populations’ needs contributes to the company’s competitive advantage in terms of client loyalty and corporate performance sustainability.
Most importantly, the company’s human resource management decisions and policies significantly contribute to the company’s reputation as a safe and favorable place of work. The organized workplaces, reasonable benefits, and compensations, health coverage, paid leaves, and professional development encouragement all add to the competitive advantage of the UnitedHealth Group. These characteristics allow the corporation to attract and recruit the most qualified and experienced experts in various medical and corporate fields. The high level of expertise and enhanced staff retention allows for creating a solid corporate culture and building a team of loyal and responsible professionals capable of providing a competitive level of medical services to numerous clients. Thus, human resources substantially define the UnitedHealth Group’s industry competitive position.
Comparator Group Competitive Position
When considering the competitive position of the UnitedHealth Group closer, it is relevant to review its human-resource-related characteristics against those of the constituents of the comparator group. The comparator group for the UnitedHealth Group consists of two large American companies as Anthem and Cigna. Like the UnitedHealth Group, the companies in the comparator group are specializing in the provision of insurance services and medical services. The range of human resource aspects must be analyzed to identify the similarities and differences between the constituents of the comparator group and to define the position of the UnitedHealth Group. These aspects include benefits and compensation, diversity, employee relations, talent management, ethics, technology, employee development, and corporate social responsibility.
It is relevant to state that from a mere business standpoint, Cigna and Anthem are structurally different from the UnitedHealth Group. Indeed, both competitor companies are managed by a single centralized chief executive officer. The companies are not divided into independent departments like the UnitedHealth Group, which diminishes their chances to facilitate the quality of their performance in particular spheres and services. In this respect, the UnitedHealth Group obtains a winning position since it allocates strategically important power of decision-making and responsibility to the heads of several departments (such as Optum and UnitedHealth care). The distribution of managerial tasks and the delegation of responsibility allows for obtaining a higher level of human resource management quality using timely resolving particular issues within a given sphere. Thus, this general organizational observation determines the overall distinctions that are identified between the companies within the comparator group.
From the perspective of the system of benefits and compensation, all the companies in the comparator group are characterized by a similar developed system of benefits and a high level of wages. However, the UnitedHealth Group and Anthem have a more flexible employee discount system than Cigna. The diversity issue is of significant importance in the contemporary, highly globalized business world. Health care entities are expected to meet the public requirements and match the demographics of the served populations. Therefore, the inclusiveness and diversity of the employees play a very important role in the determination of a company’s competitive position. In the case of the UnitedHealth Group, diversity is found to be a sphere where the company is less advantageous in comparison to its rivals.
Indeed, as the analysis of the human resource diversity at Cigna and Anthem demonstrates, both companies have a more developed system of recruiting policies aligned with the values of diversity and inclusion. Overall, both companies, unlike the UnitedHealth Group, enter the top lists of the most diversified health care firms, which places them in a higher position in comparison to the UnitedHealth Group. This tendency might be explained by the significant difference in the number of employees; the UnitedHealth Group employs five times more individuals globally than Cigna and Anthem do. Nonetheless, diminished employee diversity in comparison to its competitors obstructs the company’s leading position in its comparator group.
The issues related to employee relations differ among the constituents of the comparator group. While Cigna imposes strict regulations of employee conduct within its general policies, Anthem and the UnitedHealth Group allocate the supervision of employee relations to a separate department. Similarly, the ethical code of conduct is developed within each of the three compared companies, demonstrating their increased level of attention to corporate ethics issues. However, in terms of corporate social responsibility, the firms’ policies significantly differ. While Anthem does not have a distinctive corporate social responsibility policy, Cigna is actively involved in international environmental movements and other impactful interventions. Indeed, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UnitedHealth Group has allocated significant funds to multiple countries where it operates to aid the populations impacted by the virus (UnitedHealth Group, 2020b). Also, the firm contributes to the resolution of such problems as the lack of insurance, access to health care, healthy nutrition, and the environment (UnitedHealth Group, 2020a). Thus, the UnitedHealth Group employs a varied system of corporate social responsibility actions, but it needs to consider Cigna as an influential competitor.
Cigna’s and Anthem’s employee development programs are taken very seriously by the companies. The training and development, as well as talent management programs, are aimed at facilitating professionalism, skills, productivity, and efficiency at the workplace. In this respect, the UnitedHealth Group takes a competitively advantageous position since it also employs a highly developed training and talent management policy, which is facilitated by the technical department. All companies prioritize competency and expertise in their recruitment and training campaigns. Nonetheless, the competition is high, and the company must continuously diversify its approaches to employee development and talent management.
Overall, the UnitedHealth Group performs significantly better in such areas as benefits and compensation, employee relations, ethics, talent management, and technology. Similar to the competitor group’s performance, the company sets high benchmarks and maintains performance excellence in these areas. However, the firm demonstrates a weaker position compared to its rivals’ diversity and corporate social responsibility. The company needs to enhance its human resources-related performance in these areas to address the competition and maintain its high-level position among the competitors.
Human Resources Risks
The analysis of the human resource performance of the UnitedHealth Group allows for identifying several risk factors that might impede the sustainable development and the competitive advantage of the company in the industry of health care. The first risk factor is the overall growing competition in the industry of health care services. The intensified need for medical services and facilities induced by the current pandemic situation encourages new entities to enter the market. At the same time, the existing rivals expand their operations and improve their performance, thus imposing a significant level of competition over qualified specialists.
The second risk factor is the diminished diversity of the staff at the UnitedHealth Group in comparison to its main competitors. An insufficient level of inclusive recruitment policies and diversity-oriented employment procedures might hurt the company’s staff’s retention and loyalty. The third risk factor is related to the current COVID-19 situation that adversely impacts the employees of the health care facilities. For the UnitedHealth Group, the impact of COVID-19 is twofold, including staffing shortages due to the threat of exposure to the virus and the financial expenses required to provide coverage for the employees during their work with the pandemic.
When analyzing the described risk factors for the UnitedHealth Group, one should assess the potential impact of rising competition on the human resources of the firm. The continuous improvement in the performance of the existing competitors and the entrance of new entities to the industry in response to the requirements of the pandemic-related public health crisis imply higher competition. Such a tendency might provide a space for competition over the qualified specialists that will be willing to occupy the most favorable workplace positions. The UnitedHealth Group will need to address the rising competition by its continuous business policy improvements to maintain the competitive advantage and obtain the most expertized staff for sustainable performance in the future.
Secondly, the issue of diversity that is identified to be insufficient in the UnitedHealth Group in comparison to its competitors endangers the company’s capabilities in terms of retaining qualified staff and serving the population to the highest standards. The more diverse the workplace is, the better service the facility is capable of providing. According to Mensah and Sommers (2016), a diversified health care staff is one of the key determinants of the willingness of the population to refer to specialists and the clients’ satisfaction with the medical services overall. Thus, to obtain a competitive advantage, a firm must recruit employees from various backgrounds to match the served populations’ demographics. Since it has been identified that the competitors have a higher level of staff diversity, the UnitedHealth Group might lose its most competent specialist to more diversified firms.
Finally, the impact of human resource decisions in the time of pandemics is also considered a significant risk factor. According to McGregor (2020), the UnitedHealth Group encourages its employees to go to work despite the threats of the pandemic. Indeed, the growing health and safety concerns among the medical workers who act as first responders to the crisis might impose additional risks for the company. To maintain a sufficient amount of medical workers at the workplace and ensure their safety and wellbeing under the pressure of such a hectic situation, the firm must allocate significant financial assets for additional coverage. Given the uncertainties of the economic situation, it might be challenging for the company to retain its employees and maintain a competitive position.
Human Resources Opportunities
The strengths of the company within its currently employed human resource management policies and market characteristics constitute a framework for the human resource opportunities for the UnitedHealth Group. Firstly, expanding talent management policies to include the most qualified, experienced, and competent employees is considered to be an opportunity for enhancing human resources. Secondly, the opportunity to enhance the workforce through corporate social responsibility policies might contribute to the UnitedHealth Group’s higher level of employee loyalty and retention. Finally, technological advancement that might be applied for enhanced staff training and management is considered a human resources opportunity.
The UnitedHealth Group performs well within most aspects of human resources management. Its strong sides might be utilized as a basis for further improvement. Therefore, since the company has a well-developed system of talent management procedures, it might expand them further to attract the most expertized employees depending on the requirements of the respective health care spheres. Indeed, the company might use its experience to diversify the approaches to talent recognition, which will ultimately contribute to the company’s outreach and performance excellence.
The times of crisis and the ability to help those in need constitute a good opportunity to enhance the company’s corporate social responsibility. Indeed, as the burden of the COVID-19 crisis in the global health care systems increases, the UnitedHealth Group might use it as an opportunity to reach out to the most vulnerable populations (UnitedHealth Group, 2020b). The firm might aid them in their needs and join international campaigns to facilitate its impact within the community and strengthen the role of a socially responsible corporation.
Finally, technology, to which the company has allocated a separate department, is an opportunity for the firm to address the requirements of the industry and apply the principles of automation and digitalization to employee development and training. Additional investment into this sphere will enhance the capacity of the corporation, add to the competency level of its staff, and ultimately create a sustainable basis for continuous competitive advantage and successful performance in the market.
Overall Assessment of UnitedHealth Group’s Human Resources Competitive Position
The provided analysis of the UnitedHealth Group’s human resources allows for concluding that the company occupies a high position in the ranking of its competitors. Despite the competitors’ better performance in diversity addressing and corporate social responsibility policies, the firm remains one of the companies with the best-developed human resource management systems. However, given the conditions of the market and the company’s underperformance in particular spheres, the risks COVID-19 impact, diminished staff diversity, and overall growing competition in the industry are the most influential. On the other hand, there are some significant opportunities the company might utilize to maintain its leading position. They include intensified talent management, corporate social responsibility, and technological advancement in employee training. The findings are applicable to further human resource planning to facilitate the performance of the UnitedHealth Group.
McGregor, J. (2020). UnitedHealth Group tells employees to go to work unless they are in a high-risk group, have COVID-19 symptoms or meet other exceptions. The Washington Post. Web.
Mensah, M. O., & Sommers, B. D. (2016). The policy argument for healthcare workforce diversity. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 31(11), 1369-1372.
UnitedHealth Group. (2020a). Empowering health. Web.
UnitedHealth Group. (2020b). Our response to COVID-19. Web.