Over the past 16 months, the ways people work and live have been fundamentally impacted. The expectations are that even following the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations across industry sectors can no longer revert to their traditional approaches. Insurers have already taken this to heart and have redoubled efforts to modernise and digitalise not only their systems and solutions but also their employees.
A distributed workforce has become part of the new operating standard. This is not to say the transition has not been without its challenges. Financial services providers like insurers who used to rely on meaningful in-person engagement with customers on a broker level, have needed to rethink how to effectively harness technology to still provide a quality experience. And with the enforcement of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), this must be done in such a way that personally identifiable information is kept as secure as possible.
McKinsey examines the importance of a ‘survive and then thrive’ strategy that balances digitisation, improving operational efficiency, improving cybersecurity defences, and enhancing the customer experience. Within all these elements lies an opportunity for insurers to reskill teams, identify new capabilities, and rethink the nature of jobs in the sector.
Thanks to the likes of robotic process automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, an increasing higher level of automation can be introduced in traditional administrative-heavy job functions. In turn, this frees up those vital human resources to deliver on more strategic requirements that can help the insurer enhance the customer experience and differentiate itself from agile insurtechs.
One of the most significant things that have emerged from the pandemic has been the opportunity to reaffirm the purpose of insurance. It comes down to protecting people, communities, and business from unexpected risk while embracing rising societal concerns around sustainability and fairness.
Workforce agility, capacity, and scalability will be instrumental to drive this in the new normal. Insurers must be able to adjust to shifts in claim volumes and customer service inquiries, or even demands for new products more reflective of modern end user requirements. This means that an insurer must be able to reallocate resources quickly and think differently about the strategic (company culture) and tactical (employee skills development) functions.
Business leaders now need to embrace different ways for employees across job functions to reach their objectives. It is no longer about the hours worked but rather the deliverables achieved. Nine-to-five work is no longer a reality. An insurer is therefore reliant on putting key performance indicators in place and measuring the success of the workers in achieving those.
Adaptability and collaboration will be the cornerstones of this digital-centric workplace. This talks as much about the insurer’s ability to work with trusted partners as it does with employees that are based in any geographic location. In fact, collaboration will be geared towards finding the right expertise for specific job functions. This gives the insurer the ability to create a highly connected network of specialists that can build on the wealth of data it has in place.
Insurers must pivot from predominantly responding to customer and broker queries, to helping them through challenging times. By focusing on the social context of the situation and customer needs, an insurer can imbed non-traditional advice and support for customers that differentiates them from competitors. As such, creating an employee experience that promotes engagement, motivation, and wellbeing will be as important to rejuvenating the business as modernising and digitalising operational processes.