Leading companies and employees through the obstacles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging but has also highlighted opportunities to work differently, says a group of managers in the insurance industry.
Companies quickly adapted to locking and other restrictions and the changes are likely to have a lasting effect, they said.
In the midst of the changes brought about by telecommuting, "it has been refreshing how open customers are to engage in new ways," said Lori Goltermann, CEO of US Commercial Risk and Health Solutions at Aon PLC.
She spoke during the CEO panel at 2020 Business Insurance Women to Watch Awards & Leadership Conference, which was held practically on Thursday.
The transition to virtual and remote meetings has also reduced office time, she said. For what used to be a two-week trip to London or Bermuda, Aon was able to "do it in four hours practically," says Mrs. Goltermann, who was one of the women to watch in 201
On Arthur J. Gallagher & Co ., communication took on an enhanced role after the pandemic, says Mike Pesch, CEO of US brokerage services at Gallagher. The broker's internal communication application, which had generally been used to share information about new deals and opportunities, became a hub for employee interaction, he said.
“We were lucky. We had an app that we had launched for internal communication purposes "and the technology was given an expanded role under pandemic-related restrictions," said Pesch.
Diversity initiatives and efforts continued in the midst of the COVID-19 crises, say leaders, and intensified after social unrest in the United States came with an extra urgent issue.
AIG has a strong culture of diversity, says Lynn Oldfield, President and CEO of AIG Canada, a unit of American International Group Inc., which was one of the women to watch in 2015.
"The tone from above … has always been really strong, ”said Oldfield. And the insurer has recently expanded its diversity work, for example by focusing its social media campaigns on alllyship.
"I think everything really hit another gear in June," shortly after social unrest began, she said.
In response, AIG leaders were given "the power to be educated" about the challenges facing different populations and additional leave was granted to employees to volunteer, among other things, Ms Oldfield said.
In the meantime, connection lessons can help with
"It's important to be able to work together, to have that kind of space for your colleagues to meet," Pesch said. However, working remotely during the shutdown has "proven to us that we can get the job done."
Giving employees the choice and ability, such as not making a burdensome commute to a city center to work, can
"The ability to be flexible and productive is a huge opportunity," Pesch said, adding that he now " can find the right person for the job no matter where they live. "
Extended teleworking will" completely change the talent pool "as companies evaluate which jobs may be completely or partially remote, said Goltermann.
The panel was moderated by Danielle Lisenbey, President of MedRisk. LLC, and one of Women to Watch 2013.
A recording of 2020 Women to Watch events, including the CEO panel, can be found here.