In addition to building patented technology for scoring individual residential coastal property risks in real time and using it to make profits for a handful of carriers, MGU SageSure gets stellar ratings from employees on an online employment site.
In fact, Glassdoor ratings for the company come in at 4.9 out of 5 stars on average. While the sample size is small (only 15 reviews for a company that has 300 employees in six locations), a 100 percent approval rating prompted Carrier Management to ask about the secret sauce for pleasing employees.
“The No. 1 thing is culture,” CEO Terrence McLean said, crediting Chief Marketing Officer Tammy Nelson with leading the effort to build out that culture when she joined three years ago. Importantly, a big part of that effort was codifying it in writing. “That has made such an immense difference in both recruiting and in knowing the type of people” who fit the culture, McLean said.
“It’s a meaningful differentiator because the behaviors that we value are unique. Nobody else is going to have the values that we have,” he said.
Among the ones that sprung to mind during the interview:
“When we’re thinking about what we do as a business [and] who’s going to fit here, we ask, ‘Are they fountainy?’ To us, that’s a verb describing someone who’s uplifting, who’s going to build other people up. When somebody’s down, they’re going to help them up,” not knock them for mistakes.
“When we say, ‘We run down the hall,’ we literally do it a lot,” said McLean, who is a runner. “But it’s obviously figurative in nature. It doesn’t have to be physical in nature, but it doesn’t hurt,” he said. “I have empathy for people around me. I know that if I’m not running down the hall, I’m impacting my customer. I’m impacting agents. I’m impacting my co-workers because they’re depending on me to get my stuff done.”
And, “We don’t try,” is a bit of a “Star Wars” Yoda reference: “Do or do not, there is no try,” McLean said, underscoring a value of real commitment. “You’re not caveating everything with, ‘I might not get that done.’ You can’t say, ‘I’m going to try to do that.’ You can’t say that.”
“These things come up in meetings almost every day, certainly every week. People say, ‘I’m going to try.’ Then they stop themselves and say, ‘I’m not going to try, I’m going to commit to do that.'”
While the cultural elements “are undoubtedly the single biggest thing that makes this a good place to work,” McLean added, “growth doesn’t hurt.”
Like McLean, reviewers on Glassdoor refer to the growth of a 10-year-old MGU that now employs 300 to write $462 million of residential property premiums in 14 states.
“We are hiring like crazy,” McLean said when asked if staff size is set to increase. As for what roles need to be filled, he said, “I don’t think there’s an area of the organization that’s not growing. Everything from sales and marketing professionals, customer experience professionals, customer service and underwriting,” he said.
SageSure has also continued growing the technology staff, but McLean added, “We’re increasingly focusing technology on insurance-minded people. We have a lot of great technologists who don’t have a lot of insurance experience, and it works OK as long as they’re surrounded by people who do have insurance experience. We’re a little bit too weighted to the non-insurance experience. So, we’re actually increasingly focused on hiring people where insurance is their first language. It’s not a foreign language to them.”