ManA soft business environment, workforce issues and technology challenges – all exacerbated by an unstable economy – are among the major concerns for claim officers, according to a survey conducted by global professional services company Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW).

Findings from Towers Watson’s sixth Property & Casualty Claim Officer Survey, Claim Implications, Challenges and Innovations, reveal that claim officers are finding planning more difficult and that they are expected to meet performance goals with fewer resources.

Claim officers' concerns reflect current uncertainty. Profitability/ROE is the main business challenge for respondents (71%), followed by top-line growth (63%) and a competitive environment (52%). Leading the list of claim-related issues is workforce management, cited by 77% of respondents.

Workforce management encompasses many facets of employee oversight, including attracting/retaining talented workers, building bench strength and keeping morale high. The other top claim-related matters are technology innovation (54%) and financial results (48%).

“We believe that claim officers expect the challenges generated by the current business environment to continue,” said Kathleen Cullen, Towers Watson senior consultant and coauthor of the report.

Cullen noted a distinction in workforce management responses between the most recent survey and previous studies: “In past surveys, chief claim officers were focused on efforts to retain their experienced workers to maintain a competitive edge. That emphasis has now shifted toward attracting and developing critical-skill workers, potentially a sign of the times and reflective of the economy as a driving factor pressuring employee costs.”

When asked about specific workforce concerns, 71% of respondents cite organizational adaptability. The survey finds that, by far, large firms consider organizational agility and flexibility the biggest workforce challenge by a wide margin.

Conversely, small and midsize organizations are more concerned with the second-biggest workforce challenge, developing/attracting critical-skill workers, which received a 67% overall response rate. Employee morale and engagement raised concern for 60% of all respondents.

Overall loss costs (61%) and customer service (69%) are more often viewed as critical priorities than loss adjustment expenses (44%).

Forty-eight claim officers participated in the web-based survey, conducted in June and July 2011, and included a broad mix of claim officers from small, midsize and large companies.

Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) is a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through effective people, risk and financial management. The company offers solutions in the areas of employee benefits, talent management, rewards, and risk and capital management. Towers Watson has 14,000 associates around the world and is located on the web at