How the Pandemic Changed Our Perspective on Employee Engagement
How Insurance Companies are Safeguarding Their Competitiveness
“We simply don’t have a business without our clients entrusting us with their business and finding us worthy of their renewal business and referrals. In turn, we wouldn’t have those clients without our other great asset, our associates. Which leads to our simple, circular model: Our firm takes care of our associates so they’ll take care of our clients, who take care of our associates, who grow our firm,” says Larry Keefe, Chairman and CEO at Starkweather & Shepley Insurance Brokerage Inc.
The insurance industry heavily relies on employee expertise. Unfortunately, only a third of insurance companies believe their employees are ready with the skills required to keep up with competitors and meet growing consumer demands. Knowledge and skill gaps require a high quality of training. Taking care of your employees’ learning and development means you secure your company and make your customers happy and satisfied.
Key points for insurance companies to attract, retain, and develop talent
- Make training actually work.
Effective training is one that is based on modern technologies. The Deloitte research 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 need experiential learning that would match the pace of business. By investing in learning platforms, insurance companies can reduce costs they usually spend on outdated training programs and see a significant increase in employee productivity. Mobile microlearning offers immediate access to training content delivered in short bits when employees need it. This is a real-time training that conveys a “training message” in no time.
Imagine how much easier it would be to design training around various claims scenarios and catastrophic situations with the right touch of technology. 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 learning platform can make the learning process easier is by segmenting the training content 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 others. Combined with a smart search, employees will be able to find the necessary training material no matter how content creators titled or tagged it.
- Align performance management with business objectives.
Remember that there’s no universal rule as to how training 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. That’s why training 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.
*Nine-box grid is a tool for talent management that is used for making decisions about which people are most valuable to the organization’s future—and therefore the allocation of resources to their retention and development.
Performance management is not about annual performance reviews—well, not anymore if you want to see results. The training program must be driven by your company’s KPIs to have a measurable impact on your company’s bottom line. Consider 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 training technology will offer necessary training tasks to bridge any skills gaps and increase productivity. Besides that, a truly smart training platform will connect the best performers with those who struggle for peer coaching and support.
- Increase employee engagement.
Employee engagement is key to high productivity, decreased turnover rates, and a great employee experience. There’s no doubt that customized learning paths, flavored with gamified elements, will empower the workforce to do its best. Besides that, real-time feedback, streamline communication, friendly competition with colleagues, mentoring, and a variety of incentives all foster better collaboration and improved company culture.
Hagerty, an insurance company specializing in classic car insurance, does a great 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. Moreover, the more expertise employees have, the better opportunities they will encounter in their career advancement.
- Combat talent shortage.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 51 million insurance jobs are projected to become available by 2022. 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. When asked about what a job in the insurance industry would be like, teenagers and college students considered it a business for “old people.” The question then forms as to how to address this attitude.
“Early-career recruits think that insurance is very interesting and progressive upon learning about our products, global scope, and business scale. The goal is to inform and educate them about the benefits of insurance to help this key demographic group consider a career in insurance,” explains Jennie Anderson, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at AIG.
“It’s an uncertain world. Insurance can provide some degree of certainty as a safety net supporting people’s lives and business pursuits. That idea really resonates with the individuals that we’re bringing into our organization,” further adds Michelle Tucker, Global Head of Analyst Training at AIG.
An important thing to keep in mind is that HR should seek the right people. Candidates with emotional intelligence will be a perfect match for the insurance industry. Terry Jones, VP of learning and development for Europe, Eurasia, and Africa at the insurance firm Chubb, also says that companies should hire employees based on their cognitive ability, leadership capability, passion, as well as cultural fit. As a result, delivering soft skills training for their employees is becoming increasingly crucial for every insurance company.
Smart learning technology is a key tool to keep your employees updated, fight their skills gaps, and future-proof your company. As long as training meets your company’s needs, it won’t take long to see results in terms of revenue growth, increased productivity, and an expanding loyal customer base. Furthermore, a happy, engaged, and highly skilled workforce will stay loyal and grateful to the company that invests in their people.
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