Welcome to 2022 and the ongoing Great Resignation! Insurance companies are highly adept at managing risk in their books of business. But working in a people-intensive industry, they are less readily adaptable to the wide-scale operational risks posed by mass attrition. Adjusters are aging out of the workforce; operations teams have grown weary of spending nights, weekends, and holidays standing in the breach; and everyone now expects remote work options . . . all while consumer demand is growing.
Insurance looks to the tech industry (which thrives in a constant state of disruption) to solve scale, precision, and customer experience. What else can insurance learn from tech about weathering this storm?
Automation Is a Must-Have
Automation, automation, automation. Build it, buy it, partner to get it, process-engineer it away – whatever can be done to remove a rote human task.
There is a relentless drive to shed as much inefficiency as possible across every function, not just within a key set of corporate initiatives. People need to do value-added work that contributes to the core mission, provides a sense of personal fulfillment, and advances the company in the market. Machines can do the rest. Insurance is headed in this direction, but remains overly reliant on repetitive, human-led processes.
Tech companies tend to be high-access organizations: the frontline has access to senior leadership; managers have access to executive leadership. It’s relatively easy to spitball solutions with colleagues until you’re sure you’re onto something – and then elevator pitch it to someone positioned to sponsor it.
The tech workplace is set up in this way to be both highly collaborative and highly competitive. A member of the rank and file is typically not out of line to respectfully question leadership’s decisions or strategy. Mentoring is a primary function for people managers because the ability to develop and advance their staff is a direct reflection of their ability to increase the internal innovation quotient. In contrast, hierarchy is alive and well inside most insurance firms, and questioning a higher-up can be perilous.
Bias for action is a must in the tech realm. Data-driven decision-making is fully expected where possible, however, there is never anything beyond theoretical data for something that hasn’t been done before. In many cases, there’s no time to collect and analyze a sufficiently robust data set for a new concept because a competitor is likely considering it, too. Time to market is everything, so leadership is inclined to have an appetite for risk. Innovation failure is expected; consequences await the stagnant sitting on the sidelines. For the industry that invented actuarial tables and lives or dies by the ability to predict risk, this is a hard but necessary cultural shift.
Insurance is losing in the Great Resignation. Don’t just buy products from your tech partners. Consider how they set themselves up to flourish amid disruption by allowing their teams to focus on meaningful projects rather than repetitive tasks, creating space for competing ideas, providing access to sponsorship, and accepting failure as a necessary component of success. Not only is it sound business practice in the face of massive disruption, it’s also an amazing retention plan.