Canadian Underwriter
Feature

Ahead of the Pack


January 5, 2019   by Jason Contant, Online Editor


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What does it take to keep highly engaged employees at your insurance company?

“It boils down to this: the best employers help people understand where they need to focus, give them the support they need to perform at a high level in a changing work environment, and have engaging leaders who help employees feel valued and part of the organization’s success,” says Todd Mathers, partner and culture and engagement consulting leader for Aon in Canada.

Mathers was referring to the recent release of the 2019 Aon Best Employers in Canada study, now in its 20th year. The study recognized 49 companies for the quality and performance of their workplaces, using global standards based on more than two decades of learnings and best practices.

Four Canadian property and casualty insurers made the Best Employers list:
● Allstate Insurance Company
of Canada
● Intact Financial Corporation (IFC)
● The Co-operators
● Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company (Trisura, with fewer than 400 employees, was among the best small and medium-sized employers in Canada).

Best Employers score much higher in the survey in agility of decision-making, Mathers says. Related to that, they tend to implement innovation and changes quickly and effectively. They excel in the areas of employee learning and development, they effectively allocate talent to get work done, and they make their employees feel valued.

Insurers appearing on the list cite values, people and culture as key differentiators between workplaces.

“Our employees are the reason Allstate Insurance Company of Canada has been given this honour for the last seven years,” says Adrianne Sullivan-Campeau, the insurer’s vice president of human resources. “We are extremely proud that our employees recognize the commitment at all levels to creating a culture that supports our employee value proposition of opportunity, flexibility, family, diversity, and community. This takes consistency over time and a congruency between what we say and how we behave.”

Intact strives for an environment in which employees are engaged and motivated to bring their best to work each day, says Denise Thompson, IFC’s vice president of human capital management. “That is why employee engagement is a priority for Intact. What makes this award so meaningful is that it’s based on what employees have to say about our company.”

Trisura prides itself on working hard to maintain its entrepreneurial culture, says Cindy Grant, the insurer’s vice president of human resources. “Our culture is based on transparency, philosophy of excellence, discipline, passion and a sense of urgency in everything we do. These values are demonstrated from the top down and are communicated frequently. They are evident in how we operate on a daily basis.”

For the Co-operators, which has made the Best Employers list 16 years in a row, the values promoted in the workplace are reflected in the name of the company, which is founded on voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, autonomy and independence. “We see these as significant differentiators and a top driver of employee engagement within our organization,” said Michelle Robichaud, senior manager of corporate communications with The Co-operators. “Our employees have expressed pride in these distinct values and they feel connected to our commitment to good corporate citizenship.”

Thinking outside the box can help address career opportunities, says Allstate’s Sullivan-Campeau. She says her company encourages its employees to think about progression not as a career ladder, but a career lattice.

“Meaning there are opportunities across different verticals – underwriting, claims, finance, HR, sales, marketing, etc.,” she said. “Sometimes the best career move for you is not always ‘up.’ It might be across, or even down for a while.”

Developmental opportunities are available for those who take on a temporary assignment to try out their skills in another area of the company. “This opens up developmental opportunities that people may not expect,” she says.


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