How Insurers Are Safeguarding Their Competitiveness

In a 2021 webinar, Kai-Uwe Schanz, head of research and foresight at the Geneva Association, a major consortium of global insurers, said the following: In the wake of the COVID pandemic, “everyone has experienced personal vulnerability, fragility, so there’s a clear interest in insurance and expectations toward insurance.” Schanz went on, “There is a sort of gap emerging between what our customers expect, on the one hand, and what insurance can reasonably do based on their finite balance sheets. I think this gap presents us with a formidable challenge, intellectually, actuarially, commercially — a gap that we need to explore.”

The insurance industry heavily relies on employees’ expertise. Unfortunately, as of several years ago, only a third of insurance companies believe their agents are ready with the skills required to keep up with competitors and meet growing consumer demands. Since the market has only sped up and become more complex since then, this gap has yet to be demonstrably closed. The proper knowledge and skills require a high quality and degree of training. Yet in overseeing agent learning and development the smart way — implementing digitalization — you can bring your company fully into the 2020s.

Key points for insurers to retain and develop their workforce

  1. Make training actually work.

Effective training is one that is based on modern technologies —  including “insurtech” for insurance. The Deloitte research (referenced above) shows that “the use of technology improves not only accessibility to learning, but also the overall learner experience, much in the same way that digital and social have impacted traditional operating models of most insurance companies.”

Employees and agents need experiential, hands-on, interactive learning and development (L&D) that matches the pace of business. By investing in end-to-end performance enablement / learning platforms (PEPs, or performance enablement platform, for short), insurers can reduce costs they usually spend on outdated training programs and see significant gains in agent productivity. Digital learning offers immediate access to training content delivered in a data-based manner when employees need it most.

This is real-time L&D, conveying the “training message” that is most relevant to the individual employee at the time it is most relevant. This technology uses the latest in digital transformation to make truly evolutionary training possible. 

It’s much easier to design L&D around multiple claims scenarios and catastrophic situations if digital technology is there to automate the process. As an example, Farmers Insurance Group implemented VR to improve their claims adjuster training. “One of the biggest challenges in learning to become a claims adjuster is being exposed to enough situations,” explains Keith Daly, chief claims officer at Farmers. With the help of VR technology, the company can use six different floor plans and 500 damage scenarios, greatly expanding learning experiences. “We can now put them in a lot more scenarios sooner. We can increase the frequency of what they’re seeing and experiencing. The knowledge gain can happen so much more quickly. The more scenarios they encounter, the more comfortable they feel when they go to a real customer’s house.” Such experiential training can simplify claims adjusters’ work in the future, when they encounter similar situations in real life.

One more way a PEP can make the learning process easier is by segmenting learning and development by geographies, business lines (life, health, property insurance), departments (claims department, accounting department, underwriting department, legal department), different types of training (soft and interpersonal skills training, compliance training, cross-functional training, software training, sales training, product training), and other criteria. Employees will be able to find a wide diversity of necessary L&D material, from onboarding to claims adjustment training, easily when your PEP is also equipped with smart searching tools.

  1. Align performance management with business objectives.

Remember that there’s no universal rule as to how L&D should be done in the insurance industry or in other fields. Every company is unique. Each has its own vision, striving to reach specific goals with their own methods of doing so. Partly, that’s why L&D should be also unique and correspond with these unique aspects of a business.

Terry Jones, vice president of learning and development at the insurance firm Chubb, emphasizes that companies should align training to their specific needs:

If I took what I did at Google and just dropped it into British Telecom Group then it wouldn’t have worked. You cannot lift and shift what you have done previously to a new organization. Try to link your strategy to your actions. Google was a non-conventional business so conventional learning and development methods weren’t going to work. Everyone in Google is talent, so there was no point using a nine-box grid. You have to think about this in order to build a programme that has meaning and impact.

Performance enablement is not simply about annual performance reviews. In 2022 —  a nearly post-pandemic time in which employee expectations have shifted —  you must be more dynamic. Your training program must be driven by your company’s KPIs to have a measurable impact on your company’s bottom line. If one of your KPIs is based on revenue, you will then need to collect sales data for individual insurance sales agents.

Whenever one of your employees encounters difficulties in performing his or her tasks or fails to make enough deals in comparison to other employees, smart L&D technology will automatically sense that and offer necessary training tasks to bridge any skills gaps. Additionally, a truly intelligent PEP, one embodying the full scope of the digital transformation, will connect the best performers with those who struggle for peer coaching and support.

  1. Increase employee engagement.

Employee engagement is key to more dynamic performance, increased retention rates, and a great employee experience. If you’re using the right PEP for your insurance workforce, you can accomplish more, establishing employee-specific learning paths, and flavoring them with gamified incentive-and-recognition elements, will empower the workforce. In addition to that, real-time feedback, streamlined and segmented communication, mentoring, and progress visualization tools like leaderboards all foster better collaboration.

Hagerty, an insurance company specializing in classic car insurance, does a fantastic job in terms of employee engagement. The company’s view of success is defined by knowledgeable, credible, and passionate employees. For this purpose, the car insurance company has created Hagerty University:

We have a unique offering called The Automotive Enthusiast Certification Program that supports employees in their pursuit of automotive knowledge, skills and experiences. This uniquely positions them as credible and authentic in the eyes our clients and partners.

Hagerty encourages employees to discover their individual passion — and uses Hagerty University, made possible by digitalization, to kick that process into motion. The more expertise employees have, the better opportunities they will encounter in their career journey.

  1. Combat talent shortage.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, insurance jobs are projected to grow 7% 2020-2030. It’s not just because of the industry growth. Many Baby Boomers will soon retire, creating a need for both hiring and retaining the millennial workforce. In a recent piece about how millennials really feel about office work, a young insurance agent said about his work that he felt “empowered: “Since the pandemic, we’ve brought about new ways of communicating with people. The work I’m in, I’m really relationship-driven. So it’s given us a lot of new ways to work with folks and help folks out. The pandemic wasn’t a good thing, but it definitely brought about new ways of working with people.”

How do we foster this attitude at a wider scale?

“For starters, proactive [insurance] carriers are becoming more intentional about upskilling,” explains Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC). “To develop the workforce they’ll need in the future, they’re actively trying to create a culture in which employees build relevant skills in order to meet new market and business demands. By tracking progress across the company, they’re also able to ease out employees who prove resistant to or are simply ill-suited to developing the skills they need to remain professionally relevant.”

In their article, PWC goes on to connect this need for upskilling with digitalization and automation. When insurance agents feel like they’re being guided by smart technology, they upskill faster and with more ease. Even further, they feel they’re on the cutting edge of work and productivity arrangements, rather than stuck in a company that’s facing backward. That could very well lead to a strong, positive attitude like Adam’s, as in the above quote.

Moreover, digitization and automation are decreasing routine, manual tasks and elevating insurance jobs,” PWC writes. “This is an excellent selling point with existing and prospective technologically minded employees, especially if they have the opportunity to co-create solutions. Insurance isn’t the field most people equate with technological advancements, but employees can actually do as much as if not more cutting-edge work there than in any other industry.” 

Smart performance enablement technology is a key tool to keeping your employees upskilled, engaged, and retained. As long as L&D meets your company’s needs, it won’t take long to see results in terms of increased ROI, heightened engagement, and an expanding customer base.

Click here to request a demo and see how Rallyware’s end-to-end performance enablement platform uses data and analytics to drive productivity, retention, and engagement for insurance.