As published by FA News
There is a skills gap in the South African insurance industry, one that insurers will have to address, by prioritising and developing operating models capable of responding to the changing demands.
Research by the Insurance Sector and Education Training Authority (INSETA) shows that managers, particularly in the short-term space, are acutely aware of the need to upskill employees. Managers also expressed concern about the poaching of talent by other industries, which has become an issue as remote work becomes the status quo.
Challenging the status quo
Remote working has changed the game completely, for employees and employers, by levelling the playing field between employers and employees. Prior to COVID-19, international companies had a central team occasionally making use of external service providers, now these companies are employing individuals from all over the world as they can do so remotely.
As a South African insurer, you should be asking whether there is a possibility that your employees can go work for an international company tomorrow. If the answer is yes, you should start thinking about upskilling programmes to international company standards.
Give staff the luxury of choice and preference. If they want to work from home, let them do so; if they prefer to come into the office, that is great, as long as everyone keeps to their end of the bargain. A dual model, in which staff spend a few days a week in the office, and a few days a week at home, allows for maximum productivity whilst maintaining a collaborative culture.
The remote working trend
In South Africa, we are behind the remote working trend and we are still playing catchup in getting the necessary resources to our employees to enable them to optimally do their work from home. We should be thinking hard about how we can align our benefits, training and upskilling to international best practices.
A PwC survey on the insurance industry, in Ireland, noted in 2020 that the key focus areas in future are leadership and talent development, cost efficiency, and digital transformation. This translates well to insurance in South Africa, and globally.
Multi-skilled is the skill of the future
At Genasys, for example, we are increasingly looking for individuals who are technically able but also dynamic in a team environment; people who can learn new technologies while being able to transfer knowledge and skills to peers.
This is all part of becoming more client-orientated, in keeping with the general trend in insurance.
In pursuing this, we have been on a drive to build team capacity by giving our technical employees, through training, the ability to manage agile teams and projects. This ensures continuity from every level.
It essentially means that anyone in the team can step up on the day and be a scrum master, for example. This is facilitated by upskilling certain individuals in the team and having them coach and mentor their peers through an internal coaching system. A new employee, for instance, is partnered with someone with the same job title, and this is usually a person who was the last to join in this role at the company.
A future roadmap
The aim of upskilling staff is to work towards a future roadmap, and from the outset, identify the skills this will require at every step of the journey. In doing so, you are keeping human resources and expanding their skills, which will encourage employees to invest their future with you.
Insurers must identify the skills they may need in future, and then identify individuals in the organisation to pass these skills onto, through the myriad of learning options available today, and through mentoring and coaching.
We brought a lot of the training in-house, by training a percentage of employees and having these team leaders do internal training to other staff members. We are ensuring that the training at managerial level is filtering down to ground level.
The goal is to create a culture of personal and professional growth. Encourage staff to suggest new ideas and potential skills they think they may need and have them be on the forefront of industry. It is up to the employer to adapt around this feedback.
Dian Grobler, Human Resources Manager