GB is developing cross department career paths

Taking the fight to the talent gap

GB is developing cross department career paths

Insurance News

By Daniel Wood

As the insurance industry’s talent gap continues to bite, Gallagher Bassett Australia can at least say it was prepared. CEO Pete Nicholson (pictured above) said Australia’s largest third-party claims administrator saw it coming.

“Yes we did. I think on a certain level we’ve been observing and experiencing the talent shortage for the past decade,” he said. “It’s obviously been exacerbated by COVID and some other dynamics and over the past few years we’ve seen a dramatic impact,” added Nicholson.

GB, he said, has busily designed solutions that aim to attract and retain talent while also being flexible and adaptable to different workplace trends.

One recent initiative is formalizing career pathways that take an employee from one department to another. 

“We’re looking at where we attract our pools of talent from and how we provide meaningful pathways and create the notion of a career within the insurance industry and specifically within Gallagher Bassett,” said Nicholson.

The CEO said, historically, inter-departmental career moves were encouraged informally but now GB is in the process of formalizing these mechanisms.

“So, moving from claims to corporate and corporate to claims for that matter, which will also help our people understand the real detail of what we do and how our operations work to assist people in times of need,” he said.

“This also gives us an enormous benefit in having more rounded insurance professionals as a consequence,” added Nicholson.

The CEO said it’s also helping to attract younger talent by providing more options around their career path.

“So that they don’t sort of stagnate or feel like they’re going to be pigeonholed in a certain part of the operation,” he said.

“So it’s this concept of having multiple careers almost within a single organization that we really like and fully support,” he added.

GB is also seeking new talent strategically.

“So we’re not just pulling from the industry itself but we’re working really collaboratively to attract new entrants where they have the right sort of personality and skill base and the interest,” he said.

Universities are one hunting ground, focusing on allied health qualifications, he said, but also   graduates with commerce or law backgrounds that might be well suited to corporate roles or specialty claims.

GB is also currently developing flexible programs to attract part-time workers and people returning from parental leave. The idea, said Nicholson, is to provide options that accommodate their needs “not make them bend to ours.”

Another feature of the talent strategy, he said, is recognizing the increasing complexity in areas like personal injury claims management. Nicholson said the role of case managers is changing so the required skill sets are changing, for example, the rise in psychological claims.

“So that means that we’re increasingly looking at people that are coming out of social work, or certainly psychology or other backgrounds that are affiliated - nursing is another great one,” he said.

“So, where they maybe have had a career in that sector and it wasn’t for them and they still have those really empathetic customer orientated traits that might make a career in insurance claims or in personal injury really attractive to them. We’ve had a lot of success in bringing people with those skill sets into our business.”

GB is trying to match the personality traits of prospective talent with the right roles.

“I think the more you can narrow down the types of personalities and traits that work well in any segment of the operations that we’re running, the greater degree of job satisfaction you provide for those individuals,” said Nicholson. He added that GB is seeing better retention rates as a result.

“So great quality outputs, great job satisfaction for the individuals and far greater retention,” he said.

Another initiative is the removal of age as a barrier when recruiting new staff.

“We look for people of any age, we’re very much an inclusive and diverse organization and very flexible. I think the remote working revolution has really taught us that there’s a benefit to having people that really care about what they’re doing as they can work effectively anywhere,” said Nicholson.

Another talent gap issue is education and training. Insurance professionals often regard the banking industry with envy and say it’s entry level and tertiary level education programs are better developed and more widely available through teaching institutions.

“I think that certainly has been the case in the past,” said Nicholson. “We’ve invested significantly in a number of integrated talent development programs to lift capability and map our career pathways, tap into coaching and mentoring programs and also working with the Personal Injury Education Foundation and other institutions.”

The idea, he said, is to give people access to qualifications, diplomas and leadership programs.

“This is something we’re very, very passionate about. We want our people to have access to the best training and the best skills to be able to provide the best service to our clients and partners,” said Nicholson.

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