Over the last 18 months the world has changed. While there are some who think we will all revert, I prefer to think that the way we work and the tools we are using have changed forever. A kind of industrial revolution for the modern age.
Five years ago I was asked to think about the future of claims – fair to say I didn’t envisage a pandemic that would accelerate change. For those interested, here were my thoughts.
While far from Nostradamus in its sweep, I think what rings true was the focus on tech and data while not underestimating the importance of people and purpose. Given we have pretty much seen a working revolution over the last year, with unanticipated acceleration of trends from working from home to working in a tracksuit, I thought it would be interesting to explore again where we see the future of claims. I think there are two big themes which ran through our previous crystal balling that now seem more pronounced. They are
- the importance of purpose and meaning in work and the talent you can attract, develop and retain as a result, and
- The emergence of digital technology as the key to the customer experience.
PURPOSE and MEANING
This blog will be in 3 parts, and the 2nd and 3rd will be taken up with emerging technology and where that will take us. That’s not to underestimate the importance of people to a successful business in the future.
There is a global phenomenon currently playing out before us that has been termed ‘the great resignation’. It is estimated 40% of all workers are looking for change. Meanwhile, locally, with closed borders and an increasing war for talent, finding good people has never been more challenging.
I think it goes without saying that the foundation for success for companies in future will remain your human resources. Your people will remain key; people driving better systems and not the other way round. To win you need to have great people. The next generation of workers want meaning in their work, and want to work for companies that are socially responsible. They want companies that have a clear purpose and live to their values. Increasingly the next generation of workers value purpose, values, corporate social responsibility, flexibility and career development along with reward.
While corporate social responsibility is currently an emerging phenomenon, we anticipate that in the near future companies will more and more be judged for what they stand for – by employees and by clients and customers. Giving back, and your position on key social issues, will become more important. Navigating that will test the strongest of corporate cultures – and it is where you need a strong set of values and a meaningful purpose to drive key decision making.
To provide meaning in work is to have a strong purpose. It should be what gets you out of bed in the morning and gives you energy to do those tasks that need doing. We are fortunate in the claims space as I think everyone recognises claims is where ‘the rubber hits the road’ in insurance. Claims people are generally trying to help companies or people who find themselves in a difficult situation. Hence crafting a strong purpose should follow from a genuine resolve to provide a strong service.
Within that context you also need an environment that provides autonomy as well as the opportunity for development. Daniel Pink talks about autonomy, mastery and purpose being the key to engagement in the modern workplace, and you need skilled leaders to promote that kind of environment. Getting the balance right – autonomy and development with flexibility – will challenge leaders and will mean there will be no one size fits all hybrid work model.
While many companies are talking about a return to the old normal and the office post pandemic, we think that to retain your best people you will need to work hard on a hybrid plan that offers true flexibility. We know there are some people who are challenged working from home and would love the 5 days back in the office, but for every one of them there is a tree changer who would like more time working from home. Not to mention those people in between. Success will require a delicate balance that will evolve with time but demands consideration of both the role and the individual.
Work in the office will need to be more collaborative and purposeful. For bigger companies a reduction in space and a move to hubs may make sense. Across the industry more people, especially at the experienced end, will be working fully remotely. For smaller companies like ours that are all about connection and collaboration the office will remain fundamental, even if it is going to be more like an average of 3 days a week in the office. I can’t see us reducing space or having more than a handful of fully remote workers. Flexibility will be a key trend going forwards but you will see some divergence in approach between small and large businesses.
Career development also turns around roles and aspirations. If you want to be a leader do you need to understand that may create limitations on flexibility? That the presence of leaders may be required in the office at least 3 to 4 days a week? That some things are better not done on Zoom? The key thing will be that there are clear development plans for your team and your leaders care about your people progressing.
Despite the challenges currently with ‘talent’, we think the reward will come to those who don’t bend their purpose and values but remain focused on being a great place to work. The bend needs to be in the flexibility you display in the new hybrid work environment and then in adopting technology that provides better user experience at the coal face.
The convergence of digital technology with remote working means you need tools to provide your teams with the ability to do their jobs well. A focus needs to be on automating administrative and lower level tasks, freeing your team members to focus on higher value tasks. The challenge here is the difficulty created by legacy systems, which still remain as the backbone of most insurance businesses.
Transforming not only the customer experience but the employee experience will be key to success. In part 2 of this blog we will consider where tech is taking us in claims in the future.