Insurers are investing in the tools and technologies they need to keep pace with constant change in the digital era. But to achieve their ambitious goals, insurance leaders need to focus on an often overlooked factor: the workforce. They must look at technology as not just a disrupter, but also an enabler to transform their people, projects and entire organizations into a highly adaptable and change-ready enterprise.

In our recent survey of 450 insurance executives in 15 countries, 90 percent of insurers said that the need to train their workforce is more important today than it was three years ago. But what should that training look like?

90% of insurance executives regard the need to train their workforce as more important today than 3 years ago

Today’s insurance workforce isn’t aligned with the demands of the digital era. It’s largely hierarchical, often organized in siloes, and in many carriers, arranged according to tightly defined job functions. The workforce of the future is likely to be structured more by projects than job functions.

80% of insurers agree the workforce of the future will be structured more by projects than by job functions

In some insurance companies, the workforce is ageing and there are major gaps in succession planning. Insurers are struggling to attract top young professionals—only 2 percent of recent graduates in the United States express interest in working in an insurance company—and carriers face competition from other industries for talent with digital and entrepreneurial skills.

Without a fresh look at their workforce, traditional insurers may find themselves unable to keep pace with the digital change brought about by the next wave of digital technologies. To cope with disruption, insurers will need to reshape their people into a more liquid workforce, one able to drive and manage change. Fortunately, 78 percent of insurers agree that a more fluid workforce will improve innovation.

78% of insurers agree that a more fluid workforce will improve innovation

Another factor for carriers to consider is that this “people disruption”’ is about much more than just the rise of a new generation of tech-savvy workers leveraging digital tools. In the United States alone, 43 percent of the workforce (60 million people) is expected to be freelance by 2020—roughly four times the number in 2015.

43% of the insurance workforce expected to comprise contract, freelance or temporary positions in 3 years' time

A more liquid workforce can become a competitive advantage if carriers consider:

  • Data-based organizational management using predictive analytics and end-to-end HR suites.
  • Project-oriented working groups, emphasizing collaboration, agility and skill sharing.
  • Increased expansion of the workforce to external talent including both formal contractors and crowd platforms.
  • Continuous training as a core organizational competency.
  • Failing fast and iterating: employees are empowered to innovate.

The emergence of the liquid workforce is already underway, and the time to initiate a new workforce strategy is now.

To learn more, register to download the full report:  People First: The Primacy of People in the Age of Digital Insurance

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