When putting together your organization’s spring cleaning checklist this year, take time to consider how turbulent our lives have been from a social and business perspective. With a range of crises requiring remedial action for carriers, brokers and insureds, it is necessary to purposefully address these four key domains to safeguard people and processes:
- Human resources
- Risk management
- Training, education and development
- Workplace culture
Human Resources Policies and Procedures
The pandemic has significantly altered the way almost all businesses operate in both small and big ways. Update your policies and procedures to reflect the new reality.
Adjust company language to incorporate remote work guidelines. Evaluate employee handbook policies to ensure they are consistent with employment law requirements and regulatory changes that have occurred in the past year.
Maintain temporary policy updates—e.g., COVID-19-specific ones—in a separate policy document to allow for ongoing edits and to reflect their temporary nature. Integrate formal changes to regulations and company policies that will become longer-term into your HR policy and handbooks.
Review and update policies and procedures to address changing federal and state regulatory requirements, or as a result of new requirements enacted by local and state government.
Just taking these steps will serve to remind carrier leaders, managers and HR professionals what the company’s policies say.
Risk Management: Policies, Procedures and Controls
Take time to review your own organization’s existing risk management program strategy—policies, procedures and controls—to be sure your business is in shape. Act with deliberation. The pandemic is no time to panic.
Work with insureds to inventory their risk management programs to determine if their coverage is adequate for the current business climate. This is a turbulent time for the insurance market. Completing a thoughtful risk management and insurance program benchmarking analysis will provide insureds with a helpful overview of what is covered, what is not covered and unique coverage needs requiring attention.
Work with insureds to consider three key domains when evaluating their risk management programs: policies, procedures and controls.
Insurance- and non-insurance-related policies should be reviewed as part of a comparative analysis with best practices. Guide insureds through an existing program, coverage and non-insurance-related strategies for measuring, managing and mitigating risk.
Work with insureds to review established procedures to ensure they remain relevant for the current business climate. Are business procedures consistent with current and emerging business needs? For example, have insureds formalized telecommuting policies and procedures employees must follow when working remotely? Are managers and supervisors trained to address workplace procedures aligned with existing work arrangements and climate?
What controls have been developed to aid insureds with workplace safety, occupational health requirements, employment practices, driver safety and long-term work-from-home arrangements?
Training, Education and Development
Training focuses on building upon and expanding skills. Education focuses on increasing employees’ knowledge base (what they know). Development focuses on employees’ capacity to apply new experiences and understanding toward workplace situations.
Continue to provide relevant training during the pandemic. Follow appropriate safeguards (temperature checks prior to entry, hand sanitizers, masks and social distancing, if possible) if training requires on-site interaction and use of equipment. Assignments, interactive conversations and making effective use of Zoom sessions for visual illustrations contribute to the process. The essential element of training is skill building. Can employees perform a task as a result of the training? Application is essential.
Education expands the knowledge of an employee. Facts, figures and regulatory language, for example, contribute toward what one knows, but they do not guarantee (increase the likelihood) application of the new knowledge. Tests, quizzes and fun exercises such as a hazard hunt questionnaire are examples of how you can build employees’ understanding of a subject and its relevance to the workplace.
Development helps to build employees’ capacity to learn and apply new concepts during situations not previously experienced. To help someone develop, it is important to challenge the individual to apply critical thinking to novel situations. Organizations can help employees develop through mentorship programs, apprentice-type learning or through the Socratic method—answering a question with a question to challenge new knowledge and understanding new problems.
Because learning is never “done,” your organization should make learning an ongoing and dynamic process. It is ongoing and essential to the success of employees and your business.
With remote working arrangements resulting from COVID-19, it is easy to not have contact with colleagues for prolonged periods of time. Maintaining your workplace culture is essential to upholding your guiding principles. With or without a pandemic, we must all reflect on who we are and why we do what we do.
We can be so consumed with completing work remotely that we miss out on simply picking up the phone to ask colleagues how they are doing. Maintaining organizational culture is important. With many of us participating in remote work, it is easy to be so focused on getting work completed that you miss out on connecting with team members. Schedule Zoom sessions and phone calls. Don’t underestimate what you can achieve with a simple phone call. While texting may be convenient, it cannot replace a meaningful call.
Take time this spring to assess four key elements of your organization: human resources, risk management, training, education and development, and workplace culture. This assessment will serve as an important road map toward identifying organizational elements requiring attention.
COVID-19 fatigue can overtake any one of us. By responding with determination and purpose, we will overcome the challenges. What’s more, we will be stronger as a result. Safeguard your organization. Take time for a self-audit by implementing processes to strengthen these four key domains.