July 21, 2020 by David Gambrill
As Canadian P&C insurance industry leaders start to think about bringing employees back to the office, now is a good time to re-think the work required, the workforce skills that will be needed in the future, and what the future workplace might look like, according to a report by consulting firm Deloitte.
The P&C insurance industry has successfully responded to the remote work required by the pandemic, the report notes, but the industry now is entering an uncertain “recovery” phase, in which the near-term goal is safely reintegrating employees back into the workforce.
While preparing for re-entry into the office, insurance industry leaders will want to turn their minds to re-imagining how work will look post-pandemic, Deloitte says. And that in turn will require asking a broader set of questions about what types of new work may be done in the future; the locations where it will be done; and who will be best equipped with the skills to do the work.
In its report, Insurance work, workforce and workplace strategies for a post-COVID recovery, Deloitte provides a strategic framework for insurance industry leaders to think about their return to the workplace. The document contains a series of questions to be asked about the future of work across the entire insurance value chain — including enterprise-wide, as well as in more specific segments such as branding and marketing, sales and distribution, product and pricing, underwriting and claims.
“We recommend that insurance leaders review this document with their business continuity teams and include them in strategic planning sessions to navigate the Recover [i.e. the safe re-opening of the offices] and the Thrive [re-imagining the future of work] phases of this pandemic,” the Deloitte document states.
The document lists 112 questions in total, organized into three sections (‘Work,’ ‘Workforce,’ and ‘Workplace’). Each of these three sections is further subdivided into ‘Recover’ and ‘Thrive’ subsections related to the immediate present and the more distant future phases of the pandemic. The questions in each of these categories and subcategories are grouped in turn by the fundamental elements of the insurance value chain, listed above.
For example, in the Work category, under the “organization-wide” part of the insurance value chain, leaders are encouraged to establish an enterprise project management office that will plan and communicate steps for re-integrating staff back into the office. In particular, the group would think about how governing decisions will be made on where and how the business will work back in the office. Key questions include “How do we make sure we are anticipating work refusals before they happen?” and “How are we using data to drive operational decision-making (e.g. opening and closing contact centres, employee and consumer safety, health monitoring)?”
As far as the Workforce goes, key questions for the entire insurance organization would include, “How are we supporting our workforce given additional school or care-giving disruptions?” This is of interest primarily because of the uncertainty around the opening of schools and daycares — and whether they will be forced to shut down again should a second phase of the pandemic take place in the fall, as predicted. Another question is how leaders will manage hybrid teams of people who are working in the office and remotely from home. Another recommendation in the document involves managing the workforce “more nimbly.”
As for the Workplace, leaders are encouraged to consider what processes will be followed to clear that employees returning to the office are not infected; and what will happen if they are? And how will immune-compromised workers be identified and supported if they must return to the physical workplace? For claims employees, are there ways to protect them when they work in close proximity with clients onsite (would daily thermal screenings work, for example?) Also, staggered returns to the office will raise questions about how to manage “incomplete” teams, or with managers who may not be able to return onsite? Another question to ask is how confidential customer documents may be handled by multiple staff members while ensuring safety protocols.