Nurturing a high-performing culture: it’s all about the people

By Modern Insurance Magazine
6 June 2024
Nurturing a high-performing culture - it's all about the people

When undertaking digital transformation programmes or implementing new policy administration software, the people responsible for the project are frequently overlooked. As such, company culture and strong employee engagement becomes vital.

Christelle Frost – Chief of People at Genasys – speaks to Modern Insurance Magazine about nurturing a high-performing culture in the workplace.

What is a high-performing culture, and why is it such a vital component of business success?

If the insurance industry is serious about attracting its next generation of superstars, we need to look at the strengths and qualities of those around us. Yes, success lies within our products and services, but it also lies within our people.

At Genasys our entire business is built on the firm foundation of building trust in our relationships: with our partners, but also with our teams. We’re dedicated to nurturing a high-performing culture, particularly one that offers a safe space for our employees to thrive.

What is a high-performing culture?

High-performing culture relates to a sense of shared values, principles, beliefs and attitudes within your workforce, all of which can combine to create an environment where employees feel they can be innovative, effective and encouraged to flourish. It should be intrinsic within the very core of your business, from entry-level to C-suite.

High-performing culture also relates to ingrained behaviours around continuous improvement within your workforce. In practice, it looks like an organisation that creates space for their employees to bring their whole selves to work every day, ready to be the best that they can be.

What does a high-performing culture look like in practice?

First of all, you should look to achieve high levels of employee accountability and ownership. Staff must feel incentivised to commit to their role within the organisation, knowing where they fit in and how they contribute to the bigger picture. If the bigger picture is communicated well, most members of staff will automatically want to do what they can to contribute to the overall success of the organisation.

This theme is also promoted at Genasys through our values. If we say we’ll do something, we do it. We’re transparent with one another and follow through with our promises, knowing that we have the full support of our colleagues and peers. It’s all about believing that what we’re doing is the best course of action for ourselves and our teams.

What are the benefits?

We’ve seen five key benefits to a high-performing culture.

These include:

  • A stronger network. You are automatically going to have better performance and a stronger culture within your business, on a personal and individual level as well as an organisational level.
  • Higher engagement. You are going to see better retention and a reduction in staff turnover. The higher your turnover of staff, the more resources you will be forced to dedicate to training and onboarding. This can have an effect on seamless business processes, which can subsequently affect the overall dynamic of a high-performing culture.
  • More personal development and growth. Your people will be pushing forward, nurturing their skills and positioning themselves in a place where they can seamlessly move into new roles and embrace new responsibilities with the company.
  • Increased productivity. Your employees will feel invested in the overall mission and values of the organisation, as well as the intricacies of their work, resulting in increased productivity.
  • Increased innovation. Encourage and enable your employees to be pioneers by offering a workplace free of judgement. This will maximise scope for original thought and creativity, leading to increased innovation.

Naturally, investors are also attracted to a high-performing business culture, particularly when you’re able to evidence how they can benefit financially from this type of success. Richard Branson once said that ‘if you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients’. There’s always been a proven sense of synergy between a positive employee experience and a positive client experience.

Clients, customers and stakeholders will also benefit from the long-lasting professional relationships which can be built from this framework. Clients become accustomed to dealing with someone they feel comfortable with, and many will appreciate the ease of that consistency in their day-to-day working partnerships.

Building a high-performing culture from the ground up

So, how can you build and implement a high-performing culture from the bottom to the top?

Open communication is certainly a starting point. Let your staff know what you’re trying to achieve, and tell them how the various components and roles within your business fit with the wider outlook. What are we trying to do together here? What’s the bigger picture?

There’s a lot of value to be found in this approach. For example, at Genasys, if we say that our goal is to be the top choice for leading Insurtech technologies across the world, we have to ensure that everyone understands the role they have to play in achieving that outcome.

Secondly, it’s as much about setting standards as it is about setting goals, KPIs and performance metrics. How do your employees know what good looks like? Implement reward and recognition structures, particularly when it comes to high performance and innovation. At Genasys, we used to have the Genasys Genius Awards. Look at what your staff are doing to make the company great. What ideas are they bringing to the table, big and small?

Finally, a continuous feedback loop with your staff is vital. What works well, what doesn’t work so well and why? Put measures in place to action this feedback methodically, and then start the process again from scratch. It’s not a tick box exercise; it’s a changing model that you have to constantly recalibrate and realign. Input, output, input, output… although not easy to maintain, if you get the balance right, you’ve got a winning recipe!

Tools, frameworks and best practice

At Genasys we’ve recently implemented an online employee engagement tool. This has created a great space to gain feedback from staff quickly and anonymously, which allows us to gather statistics and act on feedback in accordance with the sentiment of our workforce. Having something like this in place is invaluable, allowing ease of access to our employees and an ability to ‘read the room’ when changes are brought in across the business.

Ideally, every business should have something like this. If you’re fortunate enough to have an HR system that allows you to pull this kind of data automatically, that’s a great starting point. Anything with the power to make your life less manual is a win-win! In addition, try to offer a simple tool to managers and employees which allows performance reviews to be completed with ease.

Maybe you’re a small business, or just starting out. If that’s the case, perhaps you don’t have an employee engagement system in place, or perhaps you don’t need one to the same scale. In this case, simply start by setting your vision and objectives at a company level. Lay it out for each department and each employee within those departments, consistently keeping open channels and reiterating those standards of what ‘good’ looks like at your company.

A parting thought

You’re going to encounter a number of different communication styles throughout this process, and it will help if you can understand the mindset of your employees on a bespoke and holistic level.

Some people are vocal; they’re happy to state when they’re unhappy, and they want to make their feelings known. You know when they have a problem, and they communicate willingly without having to ask for feedback. Others may have a tendency to stay quiet, to internalise their feelings and their response to companywide changes. In these cases, give colleagues space and time to process. After a few days have passed, approach them on an individual bases before addressing the wider collective of individual voices. Do your best to meet your teams where they are.

Remember; it’s all about the people.

Download Modern Insurance Magazine‘s Guide to Modern Policy Administration for more information on simplifying insurance technology. 

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