Every year job comparison site Glassdoor compiles a list of the best employers to work for. In the UK, ServiceNow was named the best place to work based on employee feedback – and coming in at number 16 on Glassdoor’s Employee’s Choice list was Zurich Insurance.
This makes Zurich the best insurer to work for in the UK – in fact, it is the only insurance company to be named in Employee’s Choice Award top 50.
Talking about the news, Zurich UK CHRO Steve Collinson commented: “We’ve been working tirelessly for many years to make Zurich the best insurance company to work for.
“We’re delighted to see the fruits of our labor which has come straight from the people that really matter – our employees.”
Inside Zurich UK’s workplace
Zurich’s global head of talent and learning Sally Henderson echoes this excitement in a recent interview with UNLEASH.
She believes the reason why Zurich received this accolated in 2022 is because the company has been “really focused on employees through the pandemic – we’ve really brought our employee centricity to life”.
“We put our people’s needs at the very forefront” with initiatives like making sure everyone had a “safe and effective working environment at home” through providing the appropriate equipment and technology. Zurich also ensured everyone had access to the company’s wellbeing services and tech.
Zurich UK offers employees access to Mercer’s employee benefits platform Darwin, as well as coaching and counseling through its LiveWorks platform, which Zurich also offers to its clients as part of a multi-year partnership.
In addition, Zurich made its benefits more flexible – for instance, employees in the UK were able to reduce their personal pension contributions during this time if they felt it was the best decision for their own financial situation. Zurich also provided emergency loan provisions to employees.
Further to this, the insurer brought in new life-stage benefits that aim to be flexible and respond to the employees’ diverse needs, according to Henderson. Examples include enhanced adoption, maternity and paternity leave, providing additional paid leave around premature births, and new IVF policies.
Wellbeing and career development at Zurich
Zurich is focused, of course, on being a great employer not just in the UK, but for the 55,000 people it employs in 42 countries across the world.
While the company has slightly different benefits and provisions in each country it operates in, “an umbrella group-wide strategy sits behind it”, according to Henderson. The strategy has a few core tenets; “wellbeing, our superior employee experience, and employee listening are at the core of everything we’re doing across our organization”.
Another core value for Zurich is learning and development. Henderson believes that Zurich’s “commitment to talent development and career growth” is what makes the company stand out as an employer.
Henderson continues: “We will always prioritize internal hires over external hires wherever possible”.
“It is critical to us that we are able to grow the skills of our employees and build a career. We want people to feel confident that they’ve got a future with us”, notes Henderson.
Internal mobility is very important in the ongoing ‘Great Resignation’ where employees have repeatedly emphasized that they will quit jobs that don’t give them the right workplace experience, or that don’t provide enough career development opportunities.
It is clear that Zurich is aware of this – Henderson explains that Zurich takes its career development commitments seriously; “it shapes our people priorities and it is helping us attract and retain talent”.
Sustainability and the future of work
Another element of Zurich’s HR strategy is sustainability. The company’s broad purpose is to create a brighter future together – it defines “the impact we want to have on the world”.
There are three pillars to the company’s sustainability strategy – “one is tackling climate change, one is inspiring confidence in a digital society, and the third is about promoting a fair and inclusive workforce”.
The Quai Zurich Campus was built with sustainability principles in mind – it has won multiple awards for its sustainable design. It has solar panels, it is heated and cooled by lake water, the garage can only be used by electric vehicles, and it is filled with plants.
Also, the building’s design aims to create “a supportive environment where our employee wellbeing is protected”. “It’s been designed to have an agile, collaboration and community feel to it”, according to Henderson. For instance, it has lots of break-out spaces for meetings and social interactions with colleagues.
Given the investment in the new sustainable office, it is no surprise that offices will have a role to play in Zurich’s future of work. But flexibility will also have a core role in the world of work at the insurer.
“Our hybrid working model focuses on what we come together in person for, how we collaborate, and in what instances”, according to Henderson.
However, she is very clear that the model that is in place today will not be set in stone – “we recognize the need to continue to evolve and learn…from our experiences”. Innovation will be key, as will listening to employees and upskilling them so they can succeed in the hybrid future of work.
Recruitment and retention at Zurich
While its promise to develop and grow its talent is central to Zurich’s retention strategy amid the ‘Great Resignation’, Zurich’s sustainability strategy is another care part of the employer’s talent priorities.
Henderson is clear that being sustainable “absolutely” helps the company retain and attract talent. It enables job candidates and employees to see that there is a match around values and purpose.
Job seekers and employees want to work at purpose-driven organizations – this has been proven by the ‘Great Resignation’ trend and is acknowledged by Henderson and Zurich.
“Top candidates are selecting their employers more and more based on their purpose” and whether they are sustainable employers – this is particularly true for millennials and Gen Z workers.
So, for Zurich, success in the ‘Great Resignation’ around retention and attraction will come because of its values – sustainability, employee centricity, and a desire to nurture and develop talent.
UNLEASH was keen to talk about the role technology played in helping Zurich with its recruitment strategies.
Henderson explains that tech helped Zurich to get creative and rely on gamification in the recruitment process. She shared that Zurich relies on the Microsoft Suite to support seamless work, but did not name the specific tool that supported Zurich with recruitment.
It seems that video interviews will continue to play a role in the future of recruitment at Zurich – for internal talent, it brings “efficiency…to be able to meet initially over video”.
However, given how important its HQ and offices are to Zurich, Henderson notes that it is important that “candidates…visit our offices to get a sense of who we are as an organization” when deciding if they want to work for Zurich.
A new CHRO at Zurich
She is clear that the exit of Zurich CHRO David Henderson (no relation) after five years in the job will not affect the company’s HR strategy. “We are committed to achieving employee and customer experience, [as well as] attracting and retaining talent”, notes Sally Henderson.
While David Henderson spearheaded a complete revamp of Zurich’s talent strategy in 2017 – this focused on looking for talent outside of the insurance and being a purpose-driven organization – for Sally Henderson, his legacy will be “the relentless focus on employee wellbeing”.
“Over the last five years, our employee engagement has improved significantly”, she notes. Employee listening and engagement has become core to the company’s culture; this was also noted by David Henderson in his resignation post on LinkedIn.
For instance, employee satisfaction across the group increased by 75 points in the employee net promoter survey, and 18 points in the organizational health index in 2021 (this puts Zurich in the top quartile).
David Henderson is going to be replaced as CHRO by Kathleen Savio, which is currently the insurer’s chief transformation officer. So stay tuned to see if more HR transformations are on the horizon with Savio at the HR helm.
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