Canadian Underwriter

What OSFI’s insurance head says about return-to-work

November 19, 2021   by Greg Meckbach

Print this page Share

Staff retention, professional development and the risk of worker isolation are among the factors the industry needs to think about when deciding on an approach to working remote or in the office.

“As the pandemic eases and restrictions are lifted, it will be important for organizations to determine what tasks can be effectively performed off site and the metrics necessary to ensure continued and consistent productivity,” said Neville Henderson, assistant superintendent at the federal Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI)’s insurance supervision sector.

“Employees may decide they don’t like their current companies’ back to work plan and opt to move elsewhere. So I think post-pandemic policy may be changed to improve staff retention.,” Henderson said Nov. 17 during a virtual fireside chat with Chris Cornell, partner and national sector leader for insurance at KPMG Canada.

During KPMG Canada’s 30th annual insurance issues conference, Cornell asked Henderson for his views on what the new normal will be for the insurance industry.

“I’m not sure there’s going to be a new normal for any of us for some time following the pandemic. But it has certainly influenced our thinking about how we work and there is no doubt that a post-pandemic work environment is going to be very different from a pre-pandemic environment. Some institutions may opt to work from anywhere, some may return to the office some may introduce a hybrid combination,” said Cornell.

COVID-19 was declared a pandemic March 11, 2020.

In Ontario, there are 269 COVID-19 patients in hospital, the Canadian Press reported Friday.

In Manitoba, new restrictions are being brought in to help reduce community transmission, CP reports. On Dec 5 for example, youth between 12 and 17 who want to attend indoor sports programs or overnight camps in Manitoba must have at least one dose of a vaccine or to undergo regular rapid testing.

For its part, Ontario moved into the third stage of re opening in July. A number of restrictions remain in place. For example, workplaces must actively screen all workers before they enter the work environment. Also, with limited exceptions, everyone in an Ontario workplace must wear a mask or face covering that covers their mouth, nose and chin inside any business or place that is open.

During the KPMG Canada conference Nov. 17, Henderson noted that working from home has both its advantages and disadvantages.

“From the employees’ perspective, working from home has the potential benefit of reduced travel time but may decrease interaction with other employees, which is important for development and potentially for promotion,” Henderson said in his fireside chat with Cornell.

“The pandemic has demonstrated that staff can work effectively from locations other than an office,” said Henderson.

“It is important to recognize the work from home environments has been very isolating for staff. And it has reduced the opportunities for contact with peers and other outside activities. So when the pandemic restrictions are lifted, there will be more distractions, so productivity may not be sustained.


Feature image by Trade