Are CHROs proper to be skeptical about distant work?
Accenture research on how the insurance industry is handling the remote working required for COVID-19 social distancing measures has shown mixed opinions in the C-suite. Less than two-thirds (64 percent) of hiring managers (CHROs) viewed their organizations as remote working ready. And only 33 percent said their organizations have implemented remote working over the long term.
While less than 13 percent of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) said they saw negative impacts on productivity and efficiency from work-from-home initiatives, more than half of CHROs (55 percent) said employees saw an increase Report anxiety and depression.
According to CHROs, what are the three main reasons why productivity and efficiency have decreased in companies?
- Pandemic Stress and Uncertainty (43 percent)
- Distractions from family and other people in the same place (43 percent)
- Challenges in managing physical documents like invoices and inquiries (42 percent)
It is becoming increasingly likely that remote working will need to continue through 2021, especially given the current uncertainty about whether schools will be open for classroom learning in September. Even when schools get back to school, parents need to decide if this is the best course of action for their family. Those who do not want to send their children to school will need to find childcare or some other way to support school attendance, whether it is a postponed work schedule or a compromise with a spouse or partner.
We do not see this level of uncertainty and disturbance improving anytime soon. That means insurers need to address these issues – by building a resilient workforce who have the technology and tools to move on to the next and the never-normal beyond the near future.
A resilient workforce
While insurers have been quick to adopt remote working, many have failed to realize the importance of having a resilient workforce that can maintain productivity despite uncertainty. As Luis Díaz Gutiérrez recently said in his blog post on human resilience during COVID-19, insurers need to address workers’ physical needs (safety and protection), mental needs (mental resilience), and relational needs (connection and belonging).
Gutiérrez suggests 10 actions leaders can take now to lay the groundwork for the future:
- Develop a multidisciplinary C-suite plan-and-act center. Establish and communicate important guidelines. Invest in programs that aim to reduce the physical and psychological impact on workers.
- Relieve people of unnecessary work and activities. Make it clear that the purpose is to remove friction and create teams based on skills rather than function.
- Use responsible leadership. Train leaders to engage stakeholders, use emotion and intuition, focus on mission and purpose, use technology, promote innovation, and develop intellect and insight.
- Form cross-functional, agile teams. Avoid working in functional silos.
- Raise your most visible leaders based on compassion and caring. Change the tone of daily communication so that employees feel supported and heard.
- Incorporate your company’s purpose and values into every communication and initiative. Give employees a sense of belonging and connection to each other and to their work.
- Use data and insights to tell a story That will help workers make meaningful connections.
- Rally leader for consistent communication. Establish strong communication governance, guiding principles, and tone.
- Accelerate the collaboration between humans and machines and help people transition to digital ways of working.
- Don’t let the crisis of the now stop you from approaching the next. Take time each day to focus on preparing your company and your workforce for the future.
Leading insurers harness the power of data and insights descriptive (What happened), proactive (what will happen) and required (what organizations should do next). However, many insurers still do not use analytics to make decisions that support their employees now when they need them most.
According to Nicole Knott, 86 percent of companies said analytics is a strategic priority for talent management, but only 6 percent of organizations were happy with their current analytics capabilities. Without this insight, insurers are missing out on the potential to transform their workforce in a truly human way.
If you’re an insurance CHRO and haven’t implemented organizational analysis yet, now is the time to do it. We believe this is a key component of a successful and productive remote workforce. Be sure to check out this section for a future post as we explain how you can use cloud-based analytics to answer key workforce questions.
Scalability, agility and culture
Our experience working with North American insurers also shows that many companies do not have the technology tools and infrastructure they need to support an agile remote workforce over the long term – or to scale as needed. In our next post we will examine how cloud features can help in this regard.
Insurers also need to look at work culture to support workers during this time of great uncertainty. Even after just a few months of working from home, many employees feel disconnected from their colleagues and workplaces. Companies that address these mental health issues are more likely to retain key talent. As Andy Young said in his recent post, “Teams that already had a culture of clear communication, trust and psychological security have made the linchpin for remote working easier than teams that haven’t. In other words, if culture wasn’t a priority for leaders, it should be now. “
Are CHROs rightly skeptical to answer the question? Yes and no. Insurers that maintain the status quo in terms of work culture, technology and infrastructure may struggle to build on their current success. However, those willing to take bold action have the opportunity to build a resilient, diverse, productive, and efficient remote team, as well as a competitive advantage for the business.
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