My first post in this series analyzed data to show how different job functions (HR, operations, technology and sales) viewed work models in different ways – and how leaders should take this into account when deciding on policies to work from home or on the office. In this blog, I want to focus again on the four groups, but look at employees ‘sentiment and how it can affect employees’ reaction to new work models. I will also compare the insurance industry with banking and capital markets where relevant.
Employee support influences decisions about work model
Part of our survey on Return to Work included asking whether employees generally felt supported by their employer in the insurance industry. Across all four categories, the majority said they felt “fairly well supported”;, with sales saying the most. “Not well supported” and “not well supported” were low – except for operations, where 44% said one of them.
And yet, in banking, only 20% of the business chose one of these options and only 11% in the capital markets. It is obvious that the insurance industry finds it difficult to support its operations compared with other financial service sectors, which may depend on how far behind the insurance industry lies in its digital transformations compared with banking and capital markets.
Employee challenges in culture and education
We also asked participants to select the three main employee challenges that their division faced. All four insurance groups labeled “employee training” as number one or number two. The impact of telework on education is significant, and it must be taken into account when determining a hybrid work model. Strategies such as large-scale training videos, gamification and even virtual reality are ways to tackle this problem.
There were many insights related to culture and talent that would also affect a new work model. For 43% of the business, “corporate culture” was the third biggest challenge. Digital transformations have had a huge impact on the business, but the corporate culture is also affected by the fact that older insurance companies have been around for a long time and are very office-focused with many layers of leaders. Newer carriers like Root or Lemonade probably have a lesser cultural challenge. Older companies need to develop their cultures to enable more hybrid work by embracing modern technology and embedding agile philosophies in their operations.
This concern for culture and its related implications can be seen in sales, technology and HR. Sales place “lack of adequate mental health and human resources” in the top three challenges (40%), and HR places “motivation and burnout” as one of the top two issues (57%).
Technology teams are the only group that does not rank “employee education” as number one. Instead, their biggest concern is “the view of productivity and efficiency.” Technology teams often carry the burden of productivity initiatives – as many of these changes are driven by digital transformations and new technologies. In many ways, this can be seen as an umbrella linked to the other more culture-related issues (including the three-way decision on third place). For example: Improving productivity can not happen without training employees effectively, attracting new talent, establishing a culture that embraces change and offering breaks to avoid burnout and keep motivation high.
When comparing banking and capital markets with insurance, the same pattern emerges. The key here is that rapid digital transformations and changes in work due to covid-19 have taken a heavy toll on employees. It is imperative for the entire financial services sector to ensure that they support their employees both in terms of mental well-being and also in terms of work, such as having enough talent to achieve goals and take advantage of new technologies.
The employees highlight talent challenges
The last part of the research I want to highlight is about statements related to talent challenges that we asked the participants to agree or disagree with. Talent strategies are directly affected by new work models, as focusing on office work will limit companies to local candidates, while teleworking can make education more difficult. Sample claims included:
- Current elastic HR policies (flexible hours, mandatory holidays, relaxed mode options) will remain in place when employees are called back to the office
- I have a hard time adapting my place and talent strategy
- Virtual training sessions are not as effective as personal sessions
The biggest takeaway here was a change in adaptation. My previous blog showed that sales and technology teams were adapted to teleworking compared to HR and operations, which leaned more towards work in the office. When exploring these statements about talent challenges, this adaptation changed where technology and HR were more adapted in terms of these statements, compared to operations and sales who chose “uncertain” for many of them.
This makes sense. The statements were focused on talent challenges and strategies, which is HR’s bread and butter. And technology teams are handling talent issues more than ever before. Therefore, it is logical that HR and technology participants agree with many of these talent challenges. This compares with business and sales, many of whom chose “insecure”, indicating that although their group may experience certain talent challenges, it has less direct impact on them individually.
What does all this mean?
The insurance companies are on the way to becoming more active and alleviating the ancient silos between business and technology. The ability of carriers to navigate a work model that realizes the complexity of what each corporate division is dealing with is extremely important for future success. This change has a strong impact on employees’ sentiment, which will of course overlap with how employees react to different work models. The business struggles with feeling supported and the cultural change, while the technology is concerned about talent and morale. HR is concerned about motivation and burnout, while sales feel the pressure and need better mental health and human resources and a more focused approach to productivity and efficiency.
Support. Culture. Talent. These three are the undercurrents that will directly affect a new working model. What is clear is that across these four groups – business, sales, technology and HR – there are significant differences in how they feel and where they prefer to work. Not only is there not something that suits everyone when it comes to working models for the insurance industry, but there is also nothing that suits everyone within a company per se. Of course, it is unlikely that you will be able to make everyone happy. But it is worth considering a less comprehensive approach to where, how and when people work, and instead focus on which work arrangement is best suited for that job function. You can get more satisfied – and therefore more motivated – employees.
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Disclaimer: This content is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to be used in consultation with our professional advisors.