How to reward innovative thinking

How to reward innovative thinking | Insurance Business New Zealand

How to reward innovative thinking

Insurers have been taking a close look at their culture and working practices over the past 18 months, and Pinnacle Life general manager operations Amy Cavanaugh (pictured) said this has had a positive impact on many parts of the business - particularly digital innovation.

Cavanaugh, who recently spoke at the Women in Insurance Summit 2021, said that her role has involved “a lot of change” over the past few years, and changing expectations have meant that everyone has had to adapt quickly. She said the focus for Pinnacle Life has been to examine its culture in terms of rewards and coaching, and to encourage innovation and different ways of thinking, rather than just ‘being busy.’

“I’ve spent the last few years managing a lot of change,” Cavanaugh said.

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“The insurance industry has experienced quite a big shift in expectations from regulators and from customers, and also from our people and our business partners.”

“One of the things that I think has allowed us to succeed is the culture which we’ve fostered to allow that change to be rolled out, and to do that in a way that’s sustainable, that allows us to meet our employer obligations, manage good customer outcomes, and deliver a positive employee experience,” she explained.

“When talking about culture, what I really mean is thinking about what behaviours get rewarded and acknowledged, and what behaviours you’re trying to coach people towards. That’s been a really important focus for Pinnacle Life. Are we rewarding people for working late to get a project across the line, or are we creating space to be creative, to be brave, and to have conversations or collaborations that wouldn’t otherwise happen?”

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Cavanaugh noted that COVID-19 forced a lot of quick re-prioritisation and relocation of resources, and this resulted in a lot of adaptation for the entire organisation. She said the focus now is to create a culture that rewards staff for thinking differently, and for bringing new ideas to the table.

“That’s not just for managers to do either, it’s also for front line staff,” Cavanaugh said.

“We want everybody in our organisation to be given an equal opportunity to work flexibly, and that’s certainly been part of our successful digital innovation over the past year - because we’ve created a culture that encourages and rewards people working differently, being creative, being brave, and not just having tunnel vision.”