Nidhi Verma, Crawford & Company’s first Chief People & ESG Officer, is responsible for the company’s HR function across the talent value chain and is working to develop a “future-fit” workforce strategy that is both resilient and lays the foundations for growth. “Our priorities are on our people strategy and the structure needed to move us forward as the world of claims continues to change,” she says.
As Verma explains talent management is central to Crawford’s strategy – a fact further illustrated by recent structural changes. Regional Human Resources leaders now report into country leaders rather than the global HR team, aligning the function with the business in all locations.
“If HR is not invited to sit at the table, it’s time to pull up a chair and become a valued partner,” Verma says, pointing to a range of factors that have elevated the importance of the HR function recently, from the talent crisis to market volatility and the emergence of new working practices in the wake of the pandemic.
Having met and listened to stakeholders and employees from across the business, Verma is now setting about implementing a range of initiatives to futureproof Crawford’s talent pool. She has identified strategic workforce planning as a key focus area given the insurance industry’s aging demographic and the challenges posed by the Great Resignation or Great Reshuffle, “quiet quitting” and the adoption of hybrid work.
Verma has been busy identifying where the biggest pain points exist in Crawford’s workforce and developing strategies to ensure roles are filled with the best possible talent. “When it comes to finding people with the right skills, you can build, buy or borrow but at Crawford, we want to build capabilities and invest in the next generation of claims expertise,” she says.
Attracting young talent is a top priority in insurance, which is still a sector not viewed by many graduates as an attractive career option.
“We can get better at re-branding our industry for early career professionals by highlighting the advantages of working in insurance, from the purpose to restore lives and communities to the opportunity to develop long, diverse, stable careers.”
However, developing Crawford’s own talent is equally important to ensure the best - talent stays engaged and progresses their careers at the company. “We need to empower employees to think about their own personal growth and give them career pathways within our organisation,” says Verma, who highlights ‘growth mindset’ as a key pillar of her MAGIC employee value proposition for Crawford (Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact and Connection).
Embracing technology to drive -employee experience and talent decisions.
We are future-proofing the HR function and services by digitizing our HR systems and offering workforce-centered solutions. Our HR service delivery is enhanced by continued investment in upgrading HR technology including a transformative, tech-enabled people platform implemented recently. This easy-to-navigate Human Capital Management System offers personalized digital experiences for our employees and boosts engagement. We are also leveraging this technology for workforce analytics and to drive data-driven decisions on key talent outcomes, across performance, goal setting, talent review, succession planning and career development.
Traditionally, HR has been anchored to lagging metrics like managing absences or disciplinary issues, compliance, and cost, but Crawford is taking this to the next level by harnessing technology to reimagine talent outcomes and shift workforce mindset and behaviours.
According to Verma, four of our largest countries – US, UK, Canada, Australia – as well as our Global Business Services Center in the Philippines are now powered by the new Human Capital Management System covering approximately 82% of Crawford’s workforce. “Our technology offers simple, streamlined workforce experiences and strategic workforce insights. Having a digital DNA is important in building an agile HR ecosystem for a dynamic world, moving us from human resources to human results.” she says.
Creating a rewarding culture
Purpose matters. Today’s workforce is driven more than just by a paycheck. Crawford is committed to fostering an equitable and sustainable world. Engaging with employees on how their performance impacts clients and communities is another key goal of delivering extraordinary employee experience.
Culture is also critical in enabling employees to reach their fullest potential. Managers play an integral role in driving culture and morale. We recently rolled out a company-wide Management Development Program which offers standardized, scalable curriculum and a code of practice for all Crawford managers globally. The program includes coursework for aspiring managers teaching them foundational managerial acumen and targeted learning tracks for experienced leaders for augmenting their capabilities.
By embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion in the company’s fabric, Crawford is creating an environment in which people feel safe and motivated to experiment, fail forward and grow, Verma says.
Crawford is also implementing increasingly competitive reward strategies, such as the recent addition of a policy to support employees who have become parents in the US, UK and Australia.
“We want to empower people to be their best selves, to work together and win together – but just as important as winning is playing on a level playing field.”