How flexible hours can coexist with an insurance career

Brokerage head discusses how expectations of employers have changed dramatically

How flexible hours can coexist with an insurance career

Insurance News

By Ksenia Stepanova

Flexible working was not the norm ten (or even five) years ago, but today, every recruiter will tell you the same thing – if you want to attract new staff, you need to be willing to be flexible.

In order to do this, the insurance sector needs to get very comfortable in using the latest tech – an invaluable enabler when it comes to staff working remotely. According to Jon Downes, head of legal, Australasia at Willis Towers Watson, demographics within companies have shifted significantly over the past ten years, and this increased diversity has triggered a new set of expectations from the new workforce – one insurers must be willing to meet head-on.

“I think things like flexible work arrangements can only really succeed with technology,” Downes told Insurance Business.

“This dramatic change in technology has driven a change in the expectations of workers – particularly millennials – which in turn has influenced things like corporate culture, HR policies, and competitive practices. Five years ago, flexible work arrangements were a differentiator, but now they’re something that millennials will certainly expect when they're coming into a company, and you need technology to ensure that you’ve got effective workers, wherever they happen to be.

“Certainly more and more companies are moving towards agile working environments,” Downes explained. “I think companies are recognizing the benefits of having that arrangement, and giving people the option of working at home.”

Nonetheless, Downes says that in the insurance industry, some jobs are better suited to others when it comes to working remotely. A fast-paced customer facing role may be more difficult to do from home – but that’s not to say that it can’t be done, or that companies shouldn’t allow employees to try.

“At Willis Towers Watson, we certainly do have client-facing roles, and they do manage to work flexibly and make it work,” Downes said.

“But again, technology is an important enabler. Though having said that, technology is a challenge too; the iPhone only came out just over 10 years ago, but we don't really know what the technological landscape is going to look like in 10 years' time. We’re seeing a number of new roles like Chief Data Officers coming into the insurance industry, and that's an opportunity to get involved in big data initiatives and really shape the future of the insurance industry.

“So in conclusion, I think technology is a game changer – but it’s also a great opportunity.”

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