Accenture research on how the insurance industry handles the telework required by COVID-19 social distance measures, found that opinions differed in the C-suite. Less than two-thirds (64 percent) of Human Resources Managers (CHROs) considered their organizations prepared for teleworking. And only 33 percent stated that their organizations had implemented telework in the long term.
While less than 13 percent of Chief Information Officer (CIO) reported seeing negative effects on productivity and efficiency as a result of work-from-home initiatives, more than half of CHROs (55 percent) said employees reported an increase in anxiety and depression . When asked why productivity and efficiency had decreased in their organizations, the CHRO's stated the three main causes:
- Stress and uncertainty regarding the pandemic (43 percent)
- Distractions from family and other people in the same place (43 percent)
- Challenges in handling physical documents such as invoices and inquiries (42 percent)
It seems more and more likely that teleworking will need to continue until 2021
We do not see this level of uncertainty and disruptions will get better anytime soon. This means that insurance companies must address these problems – build an elastic workforce that has the technology and tools to go further than in the short term, towards the next and never normal.
An elastic workforce
While insurance companies have been quick to adopt remote work, many have not realized the importance of an elastic workforce that can keep productivity facing uncertainty. As Luis Díaz Gutiérrez said in his latest blog post, insurers need to address workers' physical needs (safety and security), mental needs (psychological resilience) and relational needs (connection and belonging).
Gutiérrez suggests leaders take ten steps:
- Develop a multidisciplinary C-plan "plan-and-act" center . Establish and communicate key policies and invest in programs designed to mitigate the physical and mental effects on workers.
- Free people from unnecessary work and activities . Be clear that the purpose is to remove friction and build teams based on skill rather than function.
- Use Responsible Leadership . Coach leaders to include stakeholders, use emotions and intuition, focus on mission and purpose, benefit from technology, encourage innovation and develop intellect and insight.
- Form cross-functional, agile teams . Avoid working in functional silos.
- Raise your most visible leaders based on compassion and consideration . Change the daily tone of communication so that workers feel supported and heard.
- Integrate your company's purpose and values into every communication and initiative . Give employees a sense of belonging and connection to each other and their work.
- Use data and insights to tell a story that helps workers make meaningful contacts.
- Rally leader around consistent message . Establish strong communication management, guiding principles and tone.
- Accelerate human + machine collaboration and support people as they transition to digital working methods.
- Do not allow the crisis in Now to prevent you from moving towards the next . Set aside time each day to focus on preparing your organization and workforce for the future.
Leading insurance companies use the power of data and insights that are descriptive (what happened), predictive (what will happen) and prescriptive (what organizations should do next). However, many insurance companies still do not use the analysis to make decisions that support their workers now that they need it most.
According to Nicole Knott, while 86 percent of companies said that talent management analytics is a strategic priority, only 6 percent of companies were satisfied with their current analytics capabilities. Without these insights, insurers miss the potential to transform their workforce in a way that is truly human.
If you are a CHRO insurance and you have not implemented organizational analysis yet, it's time. We believe that it is an important component of a successful and productive remote force. See this space for a future post as we will work out how you can use cloud-based analytics to answer important workforce questions.
Scalability, agility and culture
Our experience working with North American insurance companies also suggests that many organizations do not have the technical tools and infrastructure they need to maintain a long-term resilience – or to scale it up needs. In our next post, we will look at how cloud features can help in this regard.
Insurance companies must also address the workforce culture to support workers during this time of great uncertainty. Even after just a few months of working from home, many workers report that they feel disconnected from their colleagues and workplaces. Companies that pay attention to these mental health aspects are more likely to retain key talent. As Andy Young said in his latest post, “teams that already had a culture of clear communication, trust and psychological security have made pivoting to telecommuting easier than teams that did not. In other words, if culture was not a priority for leaders, it should be now.
To answer the question, does the CHRO have the right to be skeptical? Yes and no. Insurance companies that maintain the status quo – in terms of workforce culture, technology and infrastructure – can struggle to expand their current success. Those who are willing to take bold measures, however, have an opportunity to build a resilient, versatile, productive and efficient remote team as well as a competitive advantage for the business.
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