Here are the top news stories in talent & organization from this week.

AI in the insurance workforce

The potential uses for artificial intelligence (AI) in insurance are becoming more plentiful and will continue to shape the future workforce, claims Bethan Moorcraft. In this Insurance Business Canada article, she identifies three core areas of AI use in insurance: customer engagement, automation of processes, and the discovery of new insights. “While easy cases can be automated, such as automated document processing, you still want to have a human in the loop for the more difficult cases,” Charles Dugas, head of insurance at Element AI, said. “Rather than seeing this as a black or white situation—100 percent manual or 100 percent automated—there’s a happy middle you can reach where a portion of your easy cases are handled automatically, and the other portion is supported by AI but really managed by human beings.” Allstate CEO Tom Wilson announced his company would invest $40 million to help train employees to thrive in an AI-driven environment. Moorcraft points out this training can be particularly helpful when it comes to AI and the issue of determinability (being able to explain why an algorithm arrives at a specific conclusion). “If you are the machine learning expert and you can’t back up a decision, you’re in for some trouble,” Alex LaPlante of Global Risk Institute said.

What makes a great remote team? Ask Google

In a quest to create the perfect remote team, Google researchers spent two years studying more than 5,000 employees. Justin Bariso, writing in Inc., says the study measured wellbeing, performance, and connectedness and came up with three recommendations on how to keep things consistent when work teams are spread out across the globe. 1. Get to know your people in order to build connections and establish rapport. 2. Set clear boundaries for communication, meetings and schedules. 3. Make an extra effort to connect on a personal level through messages and one-on-one meetings. “Traditional management principles still apply. The trick is to adapt them to the unique set of rules found in the virtual workplace. To do that, you need to use a little emotional intelligence,” Bariso concludes.

The importance of trust in the workplace

While workplace wellbeing programs have gained popularity of late, there may be something more important that employers should be focusing on, argues Zoe Humphries. In this HR Director article, she shares some insights from recent research conducted by her consultancy Steelcase. “We have identified six key dimension to wellness: optimism, mindfulness, authenticity, belonging, meaning and vitality,” she writes. “Each of these elements has a vital role to play in the physical and mental wellbeing of employees, yet you would be unlikely to find them on traditional wellbeing programs.” The researchers also realized that at the core of all six elements of wellbeing is trust. “Trust and belief in the purpose and goals of the organization. Trust that employees can express themselves, their values, ideas and emotions, without fear of reprisal. And trust in their interactions with colleagues and leadership,” Humphries writes. “Superficial wellbeing initiatives won’t bring lasting change. Only by building a sense of trust, authenticity and purpose to everything they do, can organizations maintain their healthy glow—and ensure it sticks around for the long-term.”

How employee benefits will evolve

The days of cookie-cutter benefits packages are coming to an end, predicts the TalentCulture editorial team. In this blog, they outline the major trends likely to emerge in the next few years. 1. The use of predictive data for health and wellness. For example, Springbuk offers employer-facing health analytics software designed to identify gaps in care and opportunities for savings. 2. Non-traditional benefits to reduce financial stress, such as student-loan payback assistance, supplemental insurance products or more robust retirement planning services. 3. More individual customization. The MetLife Annual Benefits Survey found that only 37 percent of employees strongly believe their benefits package meets their personal needs. But the survey also identified a seven-percentage-point increase in employers committed to offering a wider range of benefits. “Employee benefits will continue to evolve to follow closer to each individual’s unique lifestyle and choices,” says Rachel Lyubovitzky, CEO of EverythingBenefits, a benefits administration software firm.

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