Be Ready to Take on New Challenges By Building Hybrid Teams

By Brittni Smith | July 5, 2021

While it was an initial whirlwind of change, the pandemic served as a catalyst for creative working arrangements in many organizations. Insurance organizations who had not yet offered remote work gained insight into its benefits, overcame associated challenges, and in most cases, realized their teams could continue to function in efficient and productive ways. As organizations begin to implement return-to-office plans, it’s likely most organizations will continue to offer some form of remote work. Yet, in addition to offering flexibility in location, effectively blending a variety of work arrangements is key to staying ahead in a continually evolving business climate.

Hybrid workforces — comprised of remote and in-office workers, as well as part-time and full-time employees, temporary teams, consultants, and more — are becoming the future of work. Along with providing access to highly-skilled individuals across geographic locations, a hybrid workforce enables organizations to respond to shifting needs with ease and agility.

As catastrophe season picks up, property and casualty insurers are preparing for several months of unknowns. Last year’s Atlantic hurricane season saw the most named storms on record (going through the entire alphabetical list for only the second time ever.) We also saw record-setting wildfires in 2020, due to extensive drought conditions. It’s vital claims departments have plans in place to take on the increased workloads CAT season may bring. Strategically building and mobilizing these blended teams is essential for managing changing needs, especially in the coming months. By focusing on the benefits of flexible team structures, accommodating a variety of employee needs, and being strategic and transparent, insurers will cultivate claims teams ready to take on any challenge or project.

Provide Clear Expectations

One of the most important factors in creating a strong hybrid team is directly and transparently communicating expectations. Ensure team members understand their roles, the roles of other individuals, and how those roles and responsibilities interact. Encourage individuals to be respectful of others’ unique working hours and set standards around communication preferences, frequency and response times. Facilitate open lines of communication to minimize avoidable misunderstandings and quickly clear up misalignments, while providing forums for ongoing feedback.

Have a Set Strategy

It may be hard to predict future catastrophes, but it is possible to have a plan that can be set in place as needed. Discuss potential needs and scenarios with your team as early as possible. Do you have a staffing partner in place who understands your organization and can quickly provide teams of adjusters? How will customer service be impacted and what measures should be taken to ensure your policyholders are accommodated? Who can be cross trained to step in during times of need? Which part-time employees are able to work more hours? These and similar questions should all be reviewed and discussed as part of a flexible talent strategy. Understand the tools and levers available to you and how they will be implemented when needed.

Communicate Values

In order for employees to work as a cohesive unit and toward a common goal, clear guiding values can serve as a reference point. Start by reviewing your organization’s vision and values and then help team members connect these values to their daily roles. Consider incorporating this exercise into your onboarding process, even for temporary employees. Especially for those in decision-making positions or working autonomously, understanding and embodying these values can provide a sense of structure and shared purpose.

Be Thoughtful with Meetings

Depending on the size of your team, it’s likely you have individuals working in multiple time zones, with different work hours and varying employment arrangements. Be cognizant of how you can best accommodate schedules and include all individuals in important discussions. Hold weekly or biweekly team meetings and invite all team members, even those who are temporary or part-time. Provide an open forum for individuals to share challenges, wins or best practices. There’s a great opportunity for knowledge sharing in these interactions, especially for more seasoned employees to offer their insight to those less familiar with the company and team. Be inclusive and help create a sense of camaraderie, which can foster innovation and better working relationships, while harnessing the perspectives of a variety of voices.

Even if you’ve been slow to adopt a hybrid working model within your organization, know it’s critical for remaining competitive and continuing to attract and retain top talent. Skilled individuals are in demand and have many options when it comes to choosing an organization that best meets their needs. Insurance organizations that are adapting and evolving with the shifting employment landscape will be primed to attract top talent beyond geographic limits, and cultivate a team of dedicated and satisfied employees.

About Brittni Smith

Smith is a property and casualty client advisor with The Jacobson Group, a provider of talent to the insurance industry. Phone: 800-466-1578. Email: bsmith@jacobsononline.com.

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Insurance Journal West July 5, 2021
July 5, 2021
Insurance Journal West Magazine

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