The future of work for the insurance industry should be top of our agenda. But is it? In their blog Take action now to plan for the future of work, the American market research company Forrester argue that “To drive customer obsession, leaders innovate within their workforce, too.” In other words, you need to support your workforce as well as your customers.
Although this may be true, it doesn’t always happen. Too many companies forget the old adage – your employees are your greatest asset. These are three essential steps to protect the future of your workforce. They sound easy, but in reality, they are not.
Employ the right people
In the first place, you need to get the recruitment process right. This starts with attracting the right people. Any good potential employee will do research, so your website should reflect the values and culture of your business. In the same way, the interview process should re-emphasise the culture to make sure there is a personality fit, alongside the required skills and experience. Most importantly, this starts at the top. The Leadership team must be right.
In a blog back in 2015, The Challenge to be different, it’s all about the people, we argue that “Delivering extraordinary moments starts with extraordinary leaders.” This still holds true. Two high profile leadership shake-ups this year have been at Axa UK and Aviva. I can’t comment on the rationale behind the changes, but am in no doubt that leadership change will always have a disruptive effect on any company, albeit potentially short-term. The right leaders not only drive the right culture, they also attract the best people.
So, in the first place, you need inspirational leaders. But they must be supported by the right team. This could potentially be a bigger challenge in the Tech industry. According to a recent article from Computing, Skills in the Tech Sector, research shows that seven in ten businesses in the tech sector have found it more difficult to hire staff in the past year. Add in that ideally a recruit for the insurance software sector should have both technical and insurance experience, we are in a smaller pool of people. This makes for a competitive market when it comes to attracting the right candidates.
Retain the right people
There have been many column inches dedicated to how to retain the right people for your team. Here are my thoughts on the three most important ways to ensure your people are motivated at work and so are happy to stay:
- Empower your people: Successful teams benefit from true delegation. They are supported with the right training and well-defined objectives. They are then given the opportunity to develop and be creative. Importantly they are also given the opportunity to make mistakes without fearing reprisals. Nobody thrives where the ‘blame culture’ is rife. Mistakes can be very positive if we only make them once and learn from them.
- Communicate well: We all thrive better when we understand what is happening and why. This should happen both at a Company and Individual level. People thrive from feedback and this should be a two-way process. People thrive on receiving positive feedback and also benefit from being free to give honest feedback too. They also develop their skills from support when things do not quite go according to plan. Good communication helps develop great teams.
- Provide workplace well-being: We not only need support intellectually, but also with our health and well-being. An article at the start of the year, 5 workplace wellbeing initiatives to think about in 2019, quotes that 74% of research respondents would rather an employer allocated £100 towards well-being initiatives rather than a Christmas party. Health and Well-being alongside Work/Life balance are increasingly in the spotlight. As mentioned in this article, promoting well-being extends beyond free fruit. It could include flexible working; support through individual or family illness or a great working environment. Whatever the solution, all research concludes that employees respond well to employers that actively promote well-being initiatives.
Of the top three tips, this one is by far the most difficult to achieve! Given the opportunities, the future of work in the insurance industry should be rosy. But there are many external influences at play that effect success. For the insurance market, there are huge changes which have been well document elsewhere. However, there is one important factor for success that can be directly influenced from within and that is the creation of a successful team.
In our blog about Team Spirit, we conclude that “It is true that defeat can destroy a fragile or illusory team spirit. And victory does indeed make a team feel better, justified and more confident. But I believe that a strong team spirit contributes more to victory than vice versa.” The truth is that an employee wants to be associated with a successful brand. That desire starts with building a team that together creates something that they are collectively really proud of.
In conclusion, attracting and retaining the right people and creating the environment to allow them to thrive as a team is essential for the future of work for the insurance industry. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is a great place to look for the right support. They recently released a comprehensive survey of job quality for UK workers entitled UK Working Lives. The report is well worth reading and illustrates the collaborative steps that policy makers, employers and workers themselves need in order to help ensure work is a force for good for everyone.