For insurance to grow, HR needs to evolve
27 Aug 2022
The business of life insurance is changing rapidly. The advent of technology has brought many young, potential customers to the forefront. These individuals are increasingly leading a sedentary lifestyle, have a higher propensity to spend, are comfortable with using the pervasiveness of technology to their benefit and have an increased appreciation for life insurance as a key component of their financial portfolio.
To cater to these new-age customers, life insurers have altered the way they do business. The focus of life insurers has shifted from being distribution oriented to being customer oriented. To this end, companies have started making their processes more efficient. They are improving due-diligence, building data banks for better predictive capabilities, streamlining operations, improving risk assessment capabilities, and exploring more avenues to reach customers.
As companies re-align themselves to better reflect their dynamic market, HR also needs to re-align to be more in tune with the strategic vision of the company and leaders must think about how HR can support long-term growth of the organization.
Here are the key changes I see happening in the shorter term:
1) Overhauling the hiring process – Prioritizing soft skills:
With easy access to information on policy comparison websites and social media, insurance buyers are highly informed about the product offerings of various companies and ask extremely pertinent questions. Life insurers, therefore, need to pivot their recruitment strategy to better reflect the customers they are going to be serving. Soft skills, which are extremely difficult to define or quantify, will have to take centre stage. Adaptability, multitasking, grasp of technology, ability to comprehend a lot of information in a short time and answer difficult as well as insightful questions are skills which companies will have to screen for. For this purpose, highly targeted and specific recruitment strategies will have to be devised.
2) A clear career road map:
A strong onboarding process is a must as it ensures that a new joinee is set up for success, has the right network and access to resources on time. Employees are far more empowered now and taking control of the recruitment process. While companies are seeking to understand the skills being offered by a potential recruit, candidates are looking at how companies will invest in their growth and development too.
So, organizations need to chart out a career path and present an employee value proposition to those joining the company. For instance, a couple years ago Edelweiss Tokio Life realised that a lack of a strong employee value proposition was impacting the employee engagement with the company vision and purpose. This led us to design ‘Edge’, which we consider to be the organisation’s commitment to its employees for their Growth, Development, and Impacting Lives.
Through the Growth pillar, we mapped out a career growth path for every employee. Through Development pillar, we designed specific learning cards that will facilitate necessary development for each employee to achieve their career goals. The Impacting Lives pillar focuses on the complete physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing of employees.
3) Diversity and inclusion:
Life insurance companies serve customers from a variety of backgrounds. Each customer’s needs are different. To be able to serve our customers better, it is crucial for life insurers to create and nurture a work environment that is transparent, inclusive, and empathetic to the needs of every group. The only way retail industries like life insurance can serve diverse customers better is if they have diverse voices within their companies.
For instance, guided by this thought, Edelweiss Tokio Life has been focussing on Diversity and Inclusion in the recent months. Not only have we appointed a Chief D&I Officer, but also set up a council that can create an inclusive D&I framework. We have created a 3-year roadmap, wherein improving female representation in the workforce and including Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) will be a priority area.
In fact, during our insight collation phase, we realised there is a massive untapped talent pool of PWDs which doesn’t easily get employment due to their handicaps. Not only have we taken the first steps towards including PWDs in the workforce, but also have been studying how we can make the workplace more inclusive. From office infrastructure to instituting appropriate development levers, PWDs will need a more niche approach.
Think macro, implement micro:
For life insurance companies to truly be able to leverage the growing demand for the product, they would need to look at human resources from a strategic lens. The HR function needs to be aligned with longer-term goals of the company and leaders must think about how their people policies can be restructured in line with the growth vision of the organization. Clear SOPs must be drafted to enable life insurance companies settle more claims, source quality business, bring innovative products in the market, utilise technology more effectively and drive the industry forward.