620 New Hampshire tech jobs on the chopping block at Liberty Mutual

But company says addition of new positions could soften the blow

Liberty Mutual is eliminating 620 technology positions in New Hampshire, a company spokesperson confirmed to NH Business Review.

That’s more than triple the number of staff cuts previously announced, and more than a fifth of the company’s New Hampshire IT workforce. But Liberty also plans to add positions in New Hampshire, meaning that many of the workers affected may continue to work at the company in another capacity, or enter a retraining program, said John Cusolito, a spokesman at the company’s Boston headquarters.

“Change is inevitable in technology,” he said. “We must adapt to the changing needs of our customers.”

Liberty, New Hampshire’s fifth-largest employer, has 5,000 workers at 20 locations throughout the state, but 2,600 are located in Liberty’s technology hub on the Seacoast, primarily Dover – more than half of the company’s 4,900 total number of tech employees across the nation.

In March, the company announced that 360 tech positions would be eliminated, 190 of them in New Hampshire.

But NH Business Review obtained internal memos that indicated that the cuts – most of which would take place in 2018 – would be a lot deeper: about 1,000 positions eliminated nationwide, most of them in New Hampshire.

One memo circulated Wednesday from the commercial insurance IT unit indicated the staffing reductions would affect 287 employees in that division. This is on top of staffing reductions already made, said one source in the company.

“We have reached a point where we have confirmed that the roles of Managers, Business Systems Analysts, System Analysts, Requirement Analysts and Projects Mangers … will be substantially reduced in our future agile organization,” says the memo.

While the memo said the company didn’t like notifying people of the changes during the holiday season, it felt it was the “right thing to do” to provide details “instead of leaving those impacted in continued uncertainty.”

The changes would allow the unit to “deliver the highest technological value to the business.”

A Sept. 5 memo from the US Consumer Markets IT division, said, “We have reached the difficult conclusion that the Business Systems management, Business Systems Analysts, IT Project Management and System Analyst roles will no longer exist in our future agile organization”

A source said that around 700 employees could be involved in that unit. Some were already gone, laid off or retrained. Some had headed for new positions in the company’s Boston office.

As of Sept. 15, 261 remained in “non-go-forward” roles, according to one source.

But Cusolito stressed that jobs “impacted” does not necessarily translate into layoffs, or even staff reductions. For instance, year to date, 120 people have left their jobs in New Hampshire because of the restructuring. The company also hired 118 IT workers, though it could not say how many of those who had left got those new jobs.

Nationwide, the company filled 332 IT positions, and has 425 openings. It also has a little over 600 non-tech openings nationwide that the laid-off workers can apply for. In addition, Liberty has 274 training openings, 125 in the Granite State.

“I am confident that the number of workers who lose their jobs will ultimately be less than the number of jobs eliminated,” Cusolito said.

When asked if the company was expanding its IT operations to other regions, he said that “New Hampshire is home to our IT division. We remain committed to the Seacoast and Granite State.” There is no other technology hub, he stated. The company’s other IT positions are scattered.

Last year, Liberty Mutual had 5,058 employees in New Hampshire, according to NH Business Review’s Book of Lists, making it the fifth-largest service sector employer in the state, behind Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Market Basket, Walmart and Fidelity. That’s about 1,000 more employees than the company had in 2007, before the recession. Cusolito said that Liberty still has roughly 5,000 workers in the Granite State.

Worldwide, the company has more than 50,000 workers, with 2016 annual revenue of $38.3 billion and a profit of $1.7 billion. Last quarter, Liberty spent $15 million on restructuring, or $23 million year to date. The company didn’t spend anything on restructuring in 2016.

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