Canadian Underwriter

2023 Executive Outlook | Philomena Comerford, Baird MacGregor

December 16, 2022   by Canadian Underwriter Staff

Philomena Comerford

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Philomena Comerford, president, CEO, Baird MacGregor Insurance Brokers LP|Hargraft Schofield LP

Attracting, engaging and developing talent will continue to be a key challenge for the P&C industry in 2023, as employers sort out what the work week will look like going forward.

Innovation has driven some of the largest shifts in our employment history. The invention of the steam engine in the 1700s revolutionized transportation. The second wave of the industrial revolution in the 1800s triggered a revamped labour market, in which machines replaced human labour, enabling mass production. And the widespread use of electricity dramatically changed how we work.

Predictably, ongoing technological advances are modifying the way we live and work today. Increasingly popular hybrid and remote work models, triggered by the onset of a global pandemic, gave employees a better work-life balance and arguably improved their productivity by eliminating travel time. Decreased commuting times no doubt reduced stress levels, particularly for employees living far from work — which is not uncommon these days, due to the high cost of real estate in city centres — while protecting their pocketbooks from rising fuel costs during a time of inflation.

The industry is getting better at managing a remote workforce, but it does create some unique human resource challenges. Finding the optimum middle ground is what our industry is tasked to do now. Many jobs do not lend themselves to remote work; employers need to evaluate where and how hybrid models will affect the high service levels we seek to provide, and where onsite training or collaboration are needed.

Office space needs and associated costs may be reduced, with office ‘hotelling’ likely to take root in places where workstations are shared by employees using employer-deployed laptops. If we are to succeed in a retooled work model, IT security frameworks must permanently adapt to monitor and manage remote work cyber risks effectively. A renewed investment in technologies that can perform myriad mindless tasks could and should free up employees for more meaningful work, reducing burnout and helping to improve service levels that are presently deteriorating.

Employees and new entrants will be attracted to an empathetic, flexible company culture where they feel valued, have access to mentoring that will help build confidence and skill sets, and where they experience a sense of purpose, belonging and well-being.

As work models shift, improving productivity in a healthy culture is our collective challenge.