The employees and agent/broker clients of Farmington Hills, Michigan-based H.W. Kaufman Group may be pleased but not surprised to learn that the specialty insurance organization has been recognized as one of the best in the world for professional education and development by the world’s largest employee training and development association.
Kaufman was among 45 global companies — and the only one focused on specialty insurance — named in October as a winner of a 2018 BEST Award by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), which has more than 36,000 members from organizations in 120 countries.
According to ATD: “BEST winners are recognized for leveraging the talent development function as a strategic business partner to achieve enterprise-wide success. They create, support, and champion learning opportunities and a learning culture.”
H.W. Kaufman Group Chairman, President and CEO Alan Jay Kaufman has long been a proponent of talent development and a supporter of workplace cultures where learning is encouraged. In 2007, he created the Kaufman Institute, an education center that offers Kaufman associates a variety of avenues through which to bolster their skills, learn new ones, earn professional certifications and even work toward a college degree.
The Kaufman Institute is “a one-stop shop for all learning opportunities,” Dr. Renee Lerche, president of the Kaufman Institute and senior corporate vice president at H.W. Kaufman Group, told Insurance Journal.
Through the Institute, employees can learn “basic employability skills, management, how to use Microsoft office tools. It includes CE credit, it includes designations. We have advanced specialty webinars. We do advanced executive management. We have a partnership that allows our associates to get Associate and Baccalaureate degrees. It really is very comprehensive,” Lerche said.
She added that the Kaufman Institute allows for “customized learning journeys” where employees can pursue subjects of interest to them and learn at a pace and via delivery methods that work best for them.
“We do measure impact and we can see the results of people going through the Institute in terms of profitability and the ability to retain and engage our employees,” she said.
The educational programs are delivered in a variety of ways, including web-based instruction modules, in-person delivery, webinars, virtual instructors, etc. Some of the generic content has been developed by instructional designers but Kaufman’s own experts have created the insurance-related content.
The webinars are “presented by our experts and they are extremely popular,” Lerche said.
Until recently, the educational opportunities offered through the Kaufman Institute have been available only to employees of Kaufman Group companies.
But that’s changing.
Because of its success, access to the Institute’s programs “has been in demand with our clients. Our clients are the retail brokers and agents around the world,” Alan Kaufman said. “Our clients in the insurance world want the same education for their people. And these are agencies of all sizes — from the very largest to the smaller in size — they would like to have course offerings that present opportunities for their people. So, with that demand, we are now offering education to them.”
Right now, access to the Kaufman Institute is available to non-Kaufman employees on a limited basis but in the first quarter of 2019, it will be made available to most of the group’s clients for a fee.
“The Kaufman Institute is a separate company that will be a profitable company for us,” Kaufman said.
For Alan Kaufman, winning the BEST Award from ATD is a validation of his company’s commitment to education, learning, and the professional and personal development of Kaufman Group employees and clients.
“The unique programs that we have and the unique ability that we have to educate people in insurance and other professional areas … provides an opportunity for people to advance. It’s been so powerful for us,” Kaufman said. “Our clients recognize that it’s going to be advantageous as well.”
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