Insurance sector could be looked at as an enabling and uplifting force for customers in vulnerable financial situations. Sabitha Majukumar, senior research analyst, IDC Financial Insights suggests that insurers have a real opportunity to reimagine products to address coverage gaps and accelerate digital transformation to equip them with the platform, technology, and skills to effectively face future crises.
Like other industries, the insurance sector also faces the challenge of filling the gaps with respect to technology, systems, products, and processes. In a recent interaction with People Matters, Sunil Wariar, Chief Human Resource Officer, Future Generali India Insurance Company Limited discusses how the company is dealing with the impact of the pandemic and adopting new ways of working.
How is the current COVID-19 crisis impacting the insurance sector?
Insurance being part of the services industry and being critical during these times has been classified as essential services just like banking. The Insurance industry is generally well prepared for major loss events but the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis will take time to play out and will be company-specific. The industry is responding to the outbreak on various fronts – as claims payers, employers and investment managers. Each has its own distinct challenges, not just for the insurance industry but for the global economy and society at large.
How is FGII planning to ensure business continuity amid such a crisis?
At FGII, we are dealing with the situation through the power of collaboration and consistent communication. All the leaders are in touch with their respective teams remotely, communicating and guiding them in conducting themselves.
We have put in place a central Business Continuity Plan committee which reviews the situation at every city or town that we are present at along with addressing and resolving individual challenges. We are ensuring business continuity plans by keeping our employees updated on the ever-evolving situation, facilitating work from home for 100 percent of our employees and providing them with complete IT support to work effectively.
Would there be any impact on key people's decisions like hiring, performance review & compensation?
With the current scenario of lockdown and complete uncertainty, it is very difficult to guess when the businesses will resume their normal way of working. There is uncertainty with regards to customer demand, business in-flow, and adopted business model which also impacts the decision of hiring. Currently, we are honouring the offers made and being judicious in extending offers for new roles.
Hiring decisions are completely driven by the essentiality of the roles in current times.
Performance review for 2019-2020 has remained unaffected. Unlike many of our competitors, we could successfully implement the performance review outcomes. Appraisal letters and bonuses have been released as per the normal schedule and our employees are extremely happy about it.
What are some of the top people challenges that have emerged for you in the COVID-19 times? How are you looking to deal with them?
We acknowledge that this is an extraordinary situation for all of us and all employees and their families are dealing with this unique situation in their lives. As an employer, we value our employees, agents and business associates, and we believe in making their life easy while dealing with this COVID-19 situation and also their both personal and professional responsibilities.
The biggest challenge for us during this time is to keep our employees engaged and motivated to deliver their best. The situation of lockdown has resulted in social distancing and has limited interaction only to virtual platforms. The line between work and home has blurred leading to some level of imbalance and anxiety. To address this, the HR teams are in touch with managers and are guiding the employees to have clarity of expectations during the lockdown period.
Managers are actively interacting with the employees to resolve any issues or concerns. Employee engagement initiatives like online quizzes, campaigns have been rolled out. A survey has been floated to gauge the level of effectiveness of employees during this period. We also plan to roll out health-related engagement initiatives for employees and their families to help them effectively deal with the current situation.
What new ways of working you have adopted recently?
COVID-19 has taught everyone a new way of doing business which is – Remote Working. Since we are all under the obligation of maintaining social distancing, Work From Home is the new way of working adopted at FGII. 100 percent of our workforce is practising the same and is getting better at it with time.
We are looking at this as a learning curve, to step away from the traditional way of working to the new and more evolved way of working.
Today, technology has enabled everyone to perform in a seamless fashion where you no more need a brick and mortar arrangement to deliver performance. Office cubicles have been replaced by dedicated workspace at home, desktops have been replaced by laptops and tablets and physical meetings have been replaced by virtual meetings. Given the current scenario of the uncertainty of the lockdown period, we should quickly embrace this new way of work and continue business as usual.
How are you measuring productivity amid lockdown?
Parameters of measuring productivity remain more or less the same whether its sales, operations, claims or other functions. But going forward this will be a focus area for us and we will discuss and assess the situation with an open mind, in light of the situation.