There is literally a war for talent going on – and it’s not limited to the tech sector. If you followed the news about Amazon’s big decision about where to locate its new sites – the availability of local talent was chief among its criteria. In insurance, it’s even more dire: According to the Pew Research center, Millennials make up the largest share of the U.S. workforce, and only 4% have indicated interest in working in the insurance industry!
One of the hot topics today is workspace. Regardless of your view of open, modern workspaces – love them or hate them – we all can recognize that the nature of work continues to change. In today’s culture, work is no longer a place you go — it’s what you do. People do business in a variety of places — onsite with clients, in the airport, at Starbucks — not necessarily 9 to 5, five days a week in a dedicated office. In fact, our physical workspace is a key culture component — with the ability to provide an intentional way of bringing all types of people together — across generation, gender, background, and function.
This fall, I had the privilege of speaking at a breakout session at the Women in Insurance & Financial Services (WIFS) 2018 national conference in Austin, Texas. The theme this year was “Leading the Way,” and the energy was palpable! My session, “Getting Ahead of Workplace Challenges & Dynamics,” was an interactive module designed to inspire and engage participants around new ways of thinking – both big and small – and to set an intention for positive change.
No one wakes up in the morning and says, ‘Gee, I can’t wait to get to work today, where no one values my contribution or has my back!’ It’s common knowledge that feeling supported at work leads to all kinds of positive outcomes like improved engagement, commitment, willingness to go the extra mile, and reduced turnover. And there are many ways that organizations can achieve a more supportive culture – among them, mentorship and sponsorship.
Many organizations, both within and outside of the insurance industry, have struggled with how to embrace or operationalize diversity and inclusion and how to bring it through their eco-systems.
Ronald Adams, Assistant Director, Leadership Development/Diversity and Inclusion, joined Northwestern Mutual in 2015 to support the organization’s dedicated focus on diversity and inclusion as a business driver. Ron graciously shared NM’s vision for organizational change with us as a panelist at GAMA International’s LAMP Conference in Nashville this past March. Importantly, these initiatives are a part of the company’s effort to fulfill the goal set forth when Northwestern Mutual’s CEO John Schlifske took the helm: “The best must get better.”
It was my privilege to be invited by GAMA International to facilitate a panel, comprising esteemed home office and field leaders from Guardian, London Life, Northwestern Mutual, and Penn Mutual at the March LAMP Conference in Nashville. Our premise was this: In order to appeal to various talent segments – so that they stay, produce and thrive, and in turn, attract the next generation of advisors and clients – agencies need to have workplaces and experiences and practices that resonate. We used the study, ‘Building the Bridge for Culture Change: A Mandate for 2020,’ spearheaded by FlexPaths, in partnership with major U.S. and Canadian insurance sponsors, as the jumping off point for the conversation.
What does it take to get voted Best Place to Work in Pennsylvania for six years in a row? To find out, we spoke with a well-respected industry colleague and leader, Lisa Davis, Managing Director, 1847 Financial, a Penn Mutual company. Together with Jim Meehan, Managing Partner, they have created a thriving business and winning culture.
We have a lot of opportunity to revisit and remodel the workplace. This strategic focus has been validated in three important ways: by the study we conducted; by the leaders we spoke with who are putting progressive models and approaches into action; and importantly, by GAMA International, the well-respected professional organization dedicated to leadership in the financial services arena, which is spotlighting this area at its 2018 events and conferences.