By Patrick J. Walsh, Vice President & Chief Claims Officer, Accident Fund Holdings, Inc.
Out of curiosity, I recently took an informal poll of friends and colleagues who have changed jobs in the claims industry over the past few years. They were all at various levels, from front-line customer-facing roles to executives, and all of them had one thing in common. The organization they recently left refused to deal with basic issues that were negatively impacting employee morale. In most cases, they were simple issues that leaders just didn’t recognize or didn’t want to deal with.
You may think I am pointing out the obvious, but if that’s really your reaction, then how come we continue to see employees voluntarily leave the claim profession over and over? I am not referring to people who aren’t good fits or who are having performance issues. I am talking about the keepers – the ones you want on your team because of their performance, positive attitude, and long-term potential. Beyond that, and more importantly, what can we do to keep people in our industry and to engage them in ways that make them want to be claims professionals for their balance of their career?
There are a some obvious ideas that I touched on briefly in part one of this series – get creative with technology, open up the candidate pool and develop relationships with less traditional recruiting sources, invest in the development of your colleagues and teammates, and perhaps most importantly, show pride in your profession and the value we bring as claim professionals to the industry.
But what else can you do? Here are some thoughts for you to consider that might assist in your efforts to improve your retention of key performers.
Have you ever thought about how to educate others in your organization about the work and the value of the claims organization? Could you take some of your high performers and engage them in this process, which, in turn, could spur similar discussions from other parts of the organization and the building of relationships that don’t exist today within your company? Think about the power of engaging your high potential performers this way.
As your organization completes its annual and long term planning and strategy development, are you allowing less experienced employees the ability to participate? Do they feel like they can offer ideas, regardless of how unorthodox they may be, without fear of being ostracized or criticized? Can you imagine the power and enthusiasm that could be created from just one idea being acted upon and implemented as a result of opening your organizational mind to those who traditionally do not get to participate in these kinds of discussions?
Are you recognizing your employees with both financial and, often more importantly, non-financial rewards? Are you identifying their contributions and simply saying “thank you,” “job well done,” and “way to go” on a regular basis? It may not sound like much, but who wants to come to a job that generally includes a lot of difficult conversations with a variety of different kinds of people and never be thanked or feel appreciated?
Have you simply asked for feedback or participated in surveys like “Best Places to Work?” If you have, are you sharing the results and developing actionable plans to address identified areas of opportunity? Are you including all levels of your employees in responding to these results?
Are you making the tough decisions when it comes to poor performance and poor management? Do team members have to carry the load for a colleague who is not contributing at an acceptable level, or who does not have the requisite skill to be in a management position? That’s simply not sustainable over the long term and, ultimately, your best players will either leave, or perhaps, worse yet, “quit in place” if your organization does not respect the need to hold people accountable.
There’s lot of ways to retain your best people and it’s often not about more money or increased benefits. It’s often about respect, inclusion, and recognition. In the claims industry there are so many ways to use these kinds of tools to not only increase retention but to improve the results of your organization and the experience for your colleagues.
As one colleague said to me during my informal poll, “If they had only said thank you once in a while, I would never have taken the call from the recruiter that landed me where I am now and they would have retained me.”
So, who are you going to retain today?
About Patrick Walsh
Patrick J. Walsh serves as Vice President & Chief Claims Officer for Accident Fund Holdings, Inc. Walsh’s main responsibilities include overall claims strategy and management of shared claims functions between the holding company’s four brands – Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, CompWest, Third Coast Underwriters and United Heartland.
Walsh holds a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communications from the University of Akron. Additionally, he serves as a volunteer Wish Granter and is a member of the Board of Directors and the Executive Board of Make-A-Wish Wisconsin. He has been active in United Way and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. He is married to Kristin and has three children, Brady, Katie, and Robert.
About Accident Fund Holdings, Inc.
Accident Fund Holdings owns and manages a portfolio of operating companies and investments, anchored by a core position in workers’ compensation insurance. We are dedicated to helping employers create safer work environments, protecting their organizations from unpredictable, and often significant, costs related to workplace injuries and helping injured workers return to as normal a life as possible as quickly as possible. We strive to continuously increase the long-term value of our organization by outperforming our industry peers; attracting, developing and retaining top talent; and fostering a culture of underwriting and claims excellence and innovation.
Our enterprise has a national footprint, complimented by a regional market approach, allowing for individual focus with collective strength. Our four distinct operating units have an intimate knowledge of their customers, injured workers, and agents and brokers. Each operating unit offers superior underwriting, claims, loss control and marketing services in their niche and focused markets. Our Enterprise Services division provides quality and efficient integrated corporate services to each of our operating units. The holding company seeks out attractive investment opportunities and proactively manages risk appetite, performance standards and capital in a way that drives profitable long-term growth for the organization.
Accident Fund Holdings, Inc. (Lansing, Mich.) is one of the largest workers’ compensation insurers and the largest non-governmental specialty writer of workers’ compensation insurance in the United States. AFHI conducts business through its four brands: Accident Fund, CompWest, Third Coast Underwriters and United Heartland.