Insurer seeks employee strategy input

Economical Insurance wants to be one of the top five p&c insurers in Canada and to get there it is focusing on the company’s people and culture.

The insurer has launched a ‘diversity and inclusion think tank’ in an effort to build a strategy that the insurer will launch in 2017.

“(The think tank) is in alignment with where the company is going which will be driven mostly by people and culture,” Louise Taylor Green, chief human resources officer, told Thompson’s.

“And it fits into where the company is aiming to go and is part of our longer-term business strategy.”

She said a recent workshop for staff, from a cross-section of departments and positions, was aimed at starting a new conversation around diversity and inclusivity.

“This isn’t something we have had in our company nor an approach we have had in the past,” Ms. Taylor Green said. “This is where we bring front line staff in and give them the stage.

“Others have (asked) us, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ . . . but we just know that our employees’ intentions are good and they are engaged and actually have the solutions,” she said, adding that solutions are only going to come from that diverse perspective.

The keynote speaker was Olympic gold medallist swimmer Mark Tewksbury who spoke of the value of diverse perspectives.

Ms. Taylor Green said that it resonated with her when Mr. Tewksbury said: “When we belong, we perform better.”

“Feeling that sense of inclusion and belonging in an organization leads to better individual and team performance,” she said.

“(Economical) wants to be a leader in the insurance sector — we believe we already are — but in terms of market share we have pretty bold aspirations and we believe that the power for us in getting there comes from the collective capability of our people.”

Meanwhile, the insurer is working on further enhancing its brand and work culture following the launch of Sonnet Insurance, its digital direct channel.

Ms. Taylor Green said some staff have noted that there is a disconnect between the two brands — which she said is not surprising after such a huge undertaking.

“The Sonnet project was top secret for a very long time and we had a fantastic incubation environment for a very long time and so much innovation happened in that process,” she said.

“It was a huge commitment of resources, both people and financial, that went into enabling that innovation.

“Now we are looking at the rest of our business, our broker channel and function and we want to deploy those same, rapid, accelerated cycles of change and innovation that we experienced at Sonnet and allow that to translate across the rest of the company.”

Ms. Taylor Green said that while Sonnet only has that one way of delivering insurance to its clients, Economical serves 900 brokers, resulting in a plethora of preferences.

“At Sonnet there is a real homogeneity to that delivery platform but through our broker channel it is heterogeneous so we have to be more adaptable to the needs of our distribution partners,” she said.

She added that the intention is not to for Economical to be the same as Sonnet but preserve and harness the best from both brands.
One example of the way in which Economical is changing is in its recently updated website.

“You’ll see the look and feel of our new website leverages and employs more focus on the clean and crisp and the visuals are different,” Ms. Taylor Green said.

“And it has been modernized to reflect our consumers and our brokers who want to see the company evolve.”