To succeed in a rapidly evolving environment, insurance organisations must be able to pivot fast. A flexible financial services (FS) business requires an adaptive workforce. The time to shape it is now.

New technology, changing consumer and employee demographics, digital-age business models, new markets—for FS organisations, an adaptive, innovative workforce will be critical to thrive in a world of constant, accelerating change. I know from my work with major insurance groups in the UK market that shaping such a workforce requires clear vision, and action—now.

The future of the FS industry belongs to hyper-relevant ‘living businesses’—organisations that are able to understand and keep moving forward in step with the consumer and with market dynamics. These organisations are able to unlock sustainable growth by continuously adapting their products, services and experiences to remain relevant to the customer. They are powered by an adaptive workforce.

An adaptive workforce has distinct characteristics and, in my recent meetings with clients in the insurance sector, all of them are at the top of leadership’s priority list. An adaptive workforce is capable of rapid and continuous change, is available on demand, is collaborative and agile, makes continuous learning and leadership development a core competence, is empowered to innovate, makes use of flexible organisational structures, demands a more fulfilling employee experience and actively seeks career mobility. To build such a workforce, FS organisations will need to introduce some radical changes.

The need to change is urgent

Some sectors of the FS industry are further ahead than others. Despite the profound change in the industry over the last five years as FS organisations have reskilled and resized, many still retain large mature workforces that function within traditional hierarchical and siloed structures. These companies are typically slow to respond to change, they lack agility and they are struggling to attract young top talent.

To transform, they will need to embrace new technologies, new ways of working, new types of workers and new skillsets, and new approaches to sourcing and retaining top talent.

Accenture research shows that FS organisations are aware of the pressure they face to become more adaptive.

  • 87 percent of FS executives agree that their company must innovate at an increasingly rapid pace to keep a competitive advantage, yet only 20 percent report that they have a predominantly fluid or adaptive organisational structure.
  • 44 percent say a lack of digital skills, such as data science and artificial intelligence, is a key barrier to transformation.

How can insurance organisations build an adaptive workforce?

Insurers need to redefine work, source talent in new ways that enhance competitive agility and innovation, and augment human creativity with artificial intelligence. They will also need to empower their leadership and their current workforce with the mindset and skills to navigate this rapidly evolving environment.

Join me next week as I look at how FS leaders are building a workplace ecosystem fit for a digital world by leveraging platforms, automation and analytics.

Meanwhile, for more insight on building an adaptive workforce, read Shaping the adaptive financial services organisation of the future.

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