Taking care of the insurance workforce

Attraction and retention of talent remains the key challenge in the industry, says executive

Taking care of the insurance workforce

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

Many insurance companies market themselves as partners or allies of their clients, promising to have their back in times of need. But aside from their customers, insurance companies have another set of people to care for – their employees.

Insurance Business recently spoke with En. Mohd Syukri bin Ahmad Sudari (pictured), chief people officer of AXA Affin General Insurance Bhd, which was recently recognised at the 19th Malaysia-International HR Awards with the Grand Award for Employer of Choice and the Gold Award for Employer of Choice (Private Sector).

According to Syukri, attraction and retention of talent remains the key challenge in the industry, especially with the emergence of insurtech.

“It has now become more critical than ever for us to accelerate and upskill our workforce to be agile, to prepare them to be ‘disruptors’ in the disruptive insurance environment and continue to enrich the value we deliver to customers,” he said. “In the midst of disruptive growth, we need to also continuously foster a positive work environment and engage our people – a happy workforce is the key driver of workplace productivity.”

Syukri said that employee well-being is very important to AXA Affin, and that one of the most important ways to improve this is by listening to your workforce. This will help management to understand their needs and keep them engaged with programmes that really matter to them.

He gave an example, with the introduction of the company’s compressed work schedule arrangement, which allows employees to enjoy extended weekends. This, Syukri said, was well-received by employees belonging to the Millennial generation. However, it was less popular among older employees, such as Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, as they preferred shorter working hours every day.

“It is important to know that there is no one-size-fits-all programme,” he said. “Being an agile company, we need to listen, recognise and embrace our people’s differences. Only then will we be able to enhance our initiatives creatively. In this case, we have rolled out staggered working hours for employees who prefer to work shorter working hours in a day to help them achieve better work-life integration.”

Working to become a better workplace
Syukri outlined the following steps that AXA Affin has taken to make its HR practices more efficient, which leads to better service for its customers.

  • Implemented digitalisation across various HR functions – the company is utilising robotic process automation in recruitment, engagement, rewards and recognition, as well as performance management. Over 100 robots have been deployed across the company – including ‘Alex’, a HR robot that seeks to reinvent the on-boarding process and focus on more value-added activities.
  • Driven self-learning through technology – the company has allocated at least 3.5% of employees’ annual salary in learning and development programmes to build agile capabilities and future-proof the workforce in preparation for Industry 4.0.

“Hence, we have invested handsomely in partnering with online learning platforms to provide valuable online courses and launched mobile learning companion ‘Pocket Coach’ with gamification elements,” Syukri said.

  • Created a workplace that promotes disruptive innovations – AXA Affin has launched the AXAPRENEUR programme as a platform for employees to articulate innovative ideas and projects that they have in mind to drive simplification and customer focus. According to Syukri, employees have successfully achieved a total innovation value of MYR8.3 million (US$) from their ideas.
  • Contributed towards employees’ well-being – In order to ensure a healthy and productive workforce, the company introduced AXA Well, which Syukri described as a “holistic and structured well-being programme focusing on six wellness pillars (physical, community, financial, social/family, mindfulness, and interpersonal)” which he believes will promote a harmonious working life.

“Above all, our people are our greatest asset and most valuable investment,” Syukri said. “We strive to go beyond the culture of innovators, to ensure a positive employee experience and well-being. We do not provide the fish, but we give them the fishing rod and teach them how to fish – that’s how we stay ahead of the game.”

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