Nidhi Verma was appointed as Crawford & Company’s first Chief People & ESG Officer in July 2022. The role gives her responsibility for Crawford’s human resources (HR) function across the entire talent value chain and embedding environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into Crawford’s business operations.
Verma, a talent leader for more than 25 years who joined Crawford in 2014, describes the past year as a perfect opportunity for change in the company’s talent strategy. The mission critical role of HR was highlighted during the pandemic when ‘war time’ leadership was needed on employee wellbeing, the Great Resignation and ‘quiet quitting’ – all serving to elevate its strategic importance.
Since then, Crawford’s HR function has undergone leadership and structural changes and embraced new technologies. Meanwhile, the Crawford employee value proposition continues to evolve in the wake of new working practices, market volatility and ongoing geopolitical and economic pressures.
Verma’s first action in her new role was to set out a 100-day plan which focused heavily on listening to the views of employees from across the organization.
“I met with executive leaders and discussed their expectations of HR over the next one to two years – which is as far ahead as we should look given the pace of change in the world today,” Verma explains.
“Along with my team, I also undertook listening tours with employees to hear what they do and don’t enjoy about their roles and Crawford itself across the full life cycle of interactions with managers, their teams and peers – what exhausts them, what excites them and what they’d like us to do differently.”
These conversations helped Verma identify six key priorities for Crawford’s people strategy in the year ahead:
- Strategic alignment between HR and the business – giving HR leaders a seat at the table by reporting into business or country leaders rather than to the global HR function.
- Moving from human resources to human results – leveraging data and technology to drive key talent decisions and outcomes for the organization.
- Strategic workforce planning – building talent-pool resilience through innovative recruitment and resourcing strategies.
- Competitive growth and reward strategies – recognizing “grand slam” performance and creating an environment in which employees can develop their careers and thrive.
- Creating a strategic path for ESG – building ESG awareness and capabilities and embedding ESG culture into the organization’s DNA.
- Recalibrating employee experience – developing Crawford’s employee value proposition.
For Verma, this final pillar is fundamental to the company’s long-term success. Having listened to the feedback from Crawford’s regular Pulse Surveys and conducted interviews with employees in segments with higher turnover to understand their needs and expectations, Verma has created a ‘MAGIC’ framework for Crawford’s employee value proposition, outlined below:
- Meaning – connecting the purposes of the organization and its people.
- Autonomy – empowering employees to take ownership of business decisions.
- Growth – creating an ecosystem in which people develop a personal growth mindset.
- Impact – engaging with employees on how their performance impacts clients and society.
- Connection – rethinking work culture and relationships in the hybrid working age.
The ultimate goal, she says, is to help Crawford’s people reach their full potential. That requires creating an open and honest environment in which it is safe to make mistakes, ask for help and find the right work-life balance. “To reach your true potential you have to bring your true self to work,” she explains.
And with the insurance market and wider world evolving so quickly, it is also vital that Crawford’s employees are empowered with the technical and human skills to adapt.
“Change is inevitable. It can be unsettling, emotional and anxiety-triggering. But it can also be exciting,”
“We are building people with the resilience to embrace change.”