Flex work “an incredible opportunity” for insurance

Resisting the approach could set brokerages back, warns expert

Flex work “an incredible opportunity” for insurance

Insurance News

By Nicola Middlemiss

While implementing flexible work options can be difficult for the financial services sector, doing so is likely to bring about significant benefits for both staff and businesses, says one expert.

Speaking at the Women in Insurance Summit earlier this week, Jon Downes – head of legal at Willis Towers Watson – recalled the days when workplace flexibility was practically non-existent.

“I grew up in a corporate world where there was very little flexibility and the expectation was that people worked nine to five in the office, at the very least,” Downes said at the event.

“For me, being in a law firm, flexibility meant working a five-day week then working the weekend and maybe getting Christmas off,” he joked.

However, despite operating in an environment where flexibility was largely frowned upon, Downes admitted it was something he had long been interested in – due to both its business benefits and the positive impact it can have on the lives of employees.

“I’m clearly not a woman in insurance but I do chair our diversity and inclusion committee and have a keen interest in topics like flexible work arrangements,” Downes said at the event. “I was raised by a working mum, supported my sister while she raised her child as a single parent working full time, and experienced the challenges of juggling work and caring for someone who was terminally ill.”

Of course, Downes acknowledged that there are several obstacles standing in the way of flexible work for brokers – “demanding clients” being just one of them. However, he also said this can be overcome with a little effort and would be well worth it for everyone involved. In fact, the most recent Global Workforce Study by Willis Towers Watson found that, for the insurance sector, access to flexible work arrangements was the fourth most important factor seen as contributing to sustainable engagement as well as being a key factor in attracting talent to organisations.

“The results also suggested that flex work arrangements help employees experience greater enrichment from work to home which in turn is associated with higher job satisfaction,” said Downes.

This, unsurprisingly, leads to greater financial returns for businesses as the same global survey found that companies with engaged employees enjoyed significantly more success.

“What that tells me is that there’s actually an incredible opportunity in the insurance industry for companies to realise greater value by not only engaging employees but also enabling and energising their efforts,” said Downes.

“Aside from the financial benefits, there are, of course, other benefits for employees,” he continued. “Flexibility enables employees to enjoy a better work life balance, it reduces commuting time and it can increase the feeling of personal control. It means people have the option of working when they feel they can be more productive, which is not necessarily during conventional working hours.”


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