This year has been a turbulent one for the industry, as it grapples with impacts from weather events, inflation, and the rising cost of living. These factors have cascaded to affect not only the overall workplace culture and employee’ wellbeing but also the expectations of customers, and operational efficiency. Unlike in years past where insurers often experienced moments of respite, this year has seen a relentless demand on their capacities, leaving little room for recovery. With a continued surge in activity projected until the year’s end, the strain on insurers continues.
Conversely, customers find themselves more agitated than ever, as they confront the repercussions of extended claims timelines and the impacts of inflation. In a landscape characterised by anything but business as usual, the pressures extend across all lines of business, making it evident that everyone shares in the industry’s collective challenges.
Ellen Doyle, HR Manager – Gallagher Bassett UK, sat down to discuss the impact on employees, workplace culture, navigating supply chain disruptions, and the advantages of strategic outsourcing.
- Weathering the turbulence: A strain on employees and culture
As we work through the current economic landscape, it is important to acknowledge the toll this sustained pressure has taken on employees. Their unwavering commitment to serving clients and maintaining operations is remarkable, yet it is evident that they are operating under heightened stress and demand. This period requires strategic and empathetic measures to ensure their wellbeing and to foster a resilient workplace culture. In reminding employees that they are working to live, not living to work, four key strategies to consider are:
- Open channels of communication: The foundation of any successful workplace culture is open and transparent communication. Providing platforms where employers and employees can engage in candid discussions about challenges, expectations, and concerns creates an environment of trust.
- Flexible working arrangements: The line between dedication and overexertion can be thin, especially during periods of sustained pressure. Striking a balance between encouraging commitment to tasks and ensuring appropriate work hours is essential. Employers should proactively monitor workloads, and overtime, and acknowledge the implications of extended working hours. Encouraging a healthy work-life balance not only prevents burnout but also enhances overall productivity and job satisfaction.
- Wellness initiatives: In recognition of the mental and emotional toll that extended periods of pressure can exact, offering Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) emerges as a critical strategy. EAPs provide a confidential outlet for employees to seek counselling services, addressing both workplace-related challenges and personal well-being concerns. This initiative underscores the commitment to holistic employee care and sends a powerful message that their mental health matters.
- Cultivating connection: In times of pressure, fostering a sense of community and connection among employees can serve as a significant source of support. Encouraging regular team check-ins, virtual catchups, or workshops that focus on stress management and coping strategies can help employees feel united in their shared experiences.
- Empathy and excellence: Elevating customer service in testing times
Customers, too, bear the weight of the times. From the impacts of weather events to inflation and rising living costs, their expectations and emotions are running high. As the demands on their financial stability and wellbeing increase, the approach to customer service takes centre stage. Empathy becomes not only a guiding principle but an essential tool in building meaningful relationships and providing exceptional support to customers.
- Empathy as a guiding principle: In times of uncertainty and stress, demonstrating empathy in customer interactions is paramount. It is a powerful means to not only understand their concerns but also to show that you genuinely appreciate and care about their unique situations. Empathy forms a bridge of understanding, and this human connection is crucial in building trust and loyalty.
- Timely communication: A cornerstone of effective customer service is timely and consistent communication. Addressing customer concerns promptly not only demonstrates dedication to their needs but also helps to alleviate their frustrations. This standard ensures that customers remain informed and engaged throughout the claims process.
- Tailored solutions: Acknowledging that each customer’s circumstances are unique, a customer-centric approach would be in offering tailored and personalised solutions. By considering the specific challenges customers face, such as home displacement, rising living costs, and other financial pressures, this will show a deep understanding of their needs.
- Managing expectations: Transparency in communication extends to managing customer expectations. Providing a clear understanding of the claims process, potential timelines, and the accurate scope of repairs not only minimises misunderstandings but also positions you as a reliable insurance partner in their journey to resolution.
- Navigating operational complexities: Supply chain disruptions and employee support
Businesses within the insurance sector are finding themselves at a crossroads of operational complexities and workforce wellbeing. The intricate web of supply chain interruptions, compounded by the ongoing global disruptions, demands a multifaceted approach that addresses both operational complexities and the support of employees who bear the brunt of these challenges.
- Adapting operations: As supply chain disruptions continue to ripple through the industry, insurers should ensure they adopt a proactive stance towards adapting their operations. The ability to pivot swiftly in response to evolving circumstances is key to building operational resilience. With the ongoing shift, it’s important for insurers to identify vulnerable points in the supply chain, define processes to address insurance coverage level transparency, claims processes, limitations and pricing from policyholders. By embracing adaptability as a core principle, insurers can ensure the continuation of quality standards, organisational obligations and mitigate the impact of disruptions even amid uncertainty.
- Continuous training: The dynamic nature of the insurance landscape requires a workforce equipped with evolving skills. Continuous training initiatives become a cornerstone not only in fortifying operational efficiency but also in nurturing employee wellbeing. Providing employees with the tools they need to navigate these ongoing challenges creates a sense of empowerment and purpose.
- Strategic outsourcing: In the face of mounting pressures, strategic outsourcing emerges as a beacon of relief. Partnering with a third-party administrator offers a solution to alleviate the operational burdens while insurers redirect their internal resources towards other areas of the business. This not only ensures the optimisation of workforce efforts but also enhances the organisation’s ability to focus on value-added activities that drive growth. The scalability inherent in outsourcing allows carriers to respond promptly to fluctuations in demand, striking a balance between operational stability and flexibility.
Navigating these complex times demands a combination of empathy and practical strategies. Our Gallagher Bassett team leads by example, coaching our team on negotiating difficult conversations with customers, psychological impacts and ensuring employees have the support they need to manage challenging situations. Our team’s dedication reflects the heart of Gallagher Bassett’s ethos – genuine care and unwavering support for clients in times of need.
As the challenges persist, elevating workplace culture and embracing strategic outsourcing stand as beacons of resilience. Together, we can navigate these uncharted waters, emerging stronger and more united. Contact our team today and learn how we can help you work through this difficult time in the industry.