Editors' Cuts

Maintaining an Environment Employees Want to Work In

Pat Speer
Insurance Experts' Forum, February 5, 2013

A short list of the issues and challenges faced by the industry as a whole may help explain why last year must have been one of transition for insurers. Under constant economic pressure, carriers were called to strengthen underwriting performance, implement analytics to reduce claims costs and better engage the customer, step up regulatory compliance efforts, safely embrace mobile and social media, implement strategies that help the channel bring in more business, and, of course, enlist top talent.

I’m inclined to believe that these and other issues and challenges might have affected where insurers focused their time and attention, especially in light of my reading INN’s coverage of Fortune’s ranking of the “100 best companies to work for,” which revealed leading insurers seeing a noticeable drop in the rankings.

Insurers selected for the list include USAA, ranked number 40 and down from number 17 in 2012; Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America, ranked number 59 and down from number 51; and Aflac Inc., which has made the list for 15 consecutive years, ranked number 87, down from number 77 last year. In 2012, American Fidelity Assurance was ranked number 47, but did not make the list for this year, notes Chris McMahon in his coverage.

Conducted by Fortune and the Great Place to Work Institute, the survey asked 277,000 U.S. employees about their attitudes regarding management's credibility, job satisfaction and camaraderie. They also analyzed results on hiring practices, communication, training, recognition programs, and diversity efforts.

Creating a superior workplace takes time and starts with superior leadership, and we have some pretty great leaders in our industry, those at USAA, Allianz, Aflac and American Fidelity among them. But what the results proved to me is that other industries have invested more capital in order to devote the time and effort necessary to improve their corporate cultures and create a challenging, fair and equitable work environment. What can we learn from them?

It’s easy to dismiss employee development as a priority: It costs money, and ultimately qualifies the employee for larger roles and responsibilities. If done correctly, employee engagement and development can create “lifers” who believe in your company’s objectives and mission and want to be part of the positive and exciting change that is being created.

On a global scale, the economy depends on effective risk management by consumers, businesses and governments, which makes insurance the world's largest industry. With trillions of dollars in premium revenue and investment income, the insurance industry can and should take the lead on being the best industry to work for.

It’s not just about attracting and retaining top talent—it’s a given that most Tier-1 carriers have included that goal as part of their mission. But if you are wondering whether it’s worth it to invest in programs that affect and motivate all employees, just think about your competitor making that commitment. Where does that leave you?

The application deadline for the 2014 fortune list is July 1, 2013. You still have time to bring your organization into the winner’s circle.

Pat Speer is an editorial consultant for Insurance Networking News.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Pat by using the “Add Your Comments” box below. Shealso can be reached at patricia.speer@sourcemedia.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

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