An Echelon Media Company
Friday February 23rd, 2024

AIA is transforming insurance with millennials

Thushari Perera, Director – Human Resources, AIA Insurance Lanka Ltd

The nature of the insurance industry is evolving. It used to be a serious, mature industry that required an older, experienced workforce. But AIA is helping to bring more dynamism, vibrancy and youth into the industry. Thushari Perera, Director, Human Resources, explains how this is done.

Your company has been recognised as a Great Place to Work for Millennials. What makes AIA attractive to millennials who are on the hunt for employers who place importance on their needs, values and lifestyle choices?

Millennials are a very important segment of our employees and they are the future of our company. Ensuring that we cater to their needs is, therefore, a priority at AIA. Recruiting and retaining Millennials requires a different approach that includes proactively gaining insights on how to effectively engage with this fast and flexible generation.

Firstly, they are a purpose-led generation with a strong set of values that create their culture. In a study done by Deloitte, 80% of millennials surveyed said they would be more motivated at work if they felt their employer made a positive impact on society. This is very much aligned with AIA’s culture of being driven by a purpose of helping people live healthier, longer, better lives and this relates to our customers, our employees and the communities we serve. We are also governed by our Operating Principle of doing the right thing, with the right people for the right results. These two factors contribute immensely to attract young people as well as to differentiate us as an employer.

They have a global orientation and entrepreneurial mindsets, and they prefer to experience different career propositions within a short tenure with one employer. Appreciating these facts and characteristics, we have offered a rewarding career experience while focusing on their development and enriching their skills to be future leaders.

At AIA, we have a culture that is flexible and less formal. We don’t mind if the job is done at the office, at home or at their neighbourhood coffee shop as long as it is done properly! And this type of flexibility resonates well with the millennials. We further empower people with their job roles and promote leadership among all levels, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to be the best version of themselves regardless of their age or tenure in the company.

Our digital transformation journey is constantly evolving with special attention to technology, data and analytics – which keeps things up to date and top of the game, in turn, alluring and attractive to the millennial generation.

When joining AIA, the newly joined youngsters go through the hybrid onboarding process with a mix of high-tech and high touch. Then, they are inducted into their new roles with a ninety (90) days itinerary consisting of an overall orientation of the organization and functions, practices and processes, on the job learning, buddy assistance, mentoring and coaching, a checkpoint call with HR etc.

During the first 12 months, young individuals will be encouraged to build their own personal brand. They will be exposed to personality assessment (MBTI) and image building programmes such as etiquette/personal grooming, communication skills etc. as well as pulse surveys/ market research on customers/products and so on, to give them a clear understanding of AIA’s customers.

In addition, we carry various engagement forums to keep these youngsters connected to the organization through learning, recognition, skill development, performance reviews etc. This vibrant multinational culture, the values and our purpose keep on attracting young talent into our organization.

Here are a few things millennials globally are known to care most about. Can you share examples of how your company is dealing with each of these needs:

Work-life balance: Hybrid work models, which includes working from anywhere with flexible work arrangement, equipment and facilities are supported to work remotely, productively and find a balance between work and personal life. Together with the Recreational Club many fun and exciting engagement activities, as well as CSR initiatives, are carried out linking to the organization’s purpose. These events aim to generate pride in their workplace while experiencing it as a great workplace that has their best interest at heart.

Opportunities to explore new avenues: We are in the journey of transitioning our workplace to a more agile environment while embracing technology and analytics. Hence, we empower and encourage our young talent to work collaboratively by joining cross-functional projects in a tech-savvy environment with cross border multicultural teams. We also facilitate, through our leadership, essentials to bring the behavioural aspects and mindset change to be leaders at all levels, while supporting an ‘out of the box’ approach backed by innovation.

Career coaching by team leaders, job rotations within functions, transfers or upgrades when opportunities open up parallelly and all career openings are internally advertised to support millennials who desire a different career path or progression within the same workplace.

These practices and processes enable them to explore new avenues and at the same time develop themselves as confident professionals.

Clear career paths, recognition and transparent rewards: At AIA, pay systems are built upon the principles of providing an equitable, motivational and market-competitive remuneration package to foster a strong high-performance culture. It is not just ‘pay’ but pay tied with non-financial programmes and workplace engagement experiences resulting in a feeling of purpose, responsibility, personal growth and sense of achievement which are appreciated by the young generation in addition to the financial benefits. We pay close attention to individual growth and provide avenues to reach individual career goals through upskilling and reskilling. We also push gamification based feedback badges and recognitions through HR systems and have seen Partnership Distribution merge as a popular channel amongst the majority of millennials and have developed many thematic competitions to motivate them (Eg: Rookie award and One million award, Greek gods based competition, competitions with giveaways like iPhone pro etc., Dynamic Duos – MDRT drive).

Education: We have developed a culture of learning based on the 70:20:10 learning model. We understand that Millennials live a fast-paced life and prefer bite-size learning that is easy to consume. Hence, we provide bite-sized/microlearning courses through our HR systems with access to more than 16,500 LinkedIn courses that they follow at their own times and convenience.

In order to encourage education while working, we provide financial assistance for professional qualifications that not only help their personal growth but also uplift young talent in the organization. Certain qualifications are even rewarded with financial benefits. Apart from working goals, all employees have their own personal development goals with agreed execution plans. Those goals are reviewed, and feedback is provided formally and informally by team leads.

Sustainability and giving back to the community: Our company’s CR journey (Corporate Responsibility) includes ‘Employee Led CR’ initiatives, which focus on school building projects in different cities as well as green projects. The majority of voluntary contribution comes from Millennials in these CR activities. As a responsible company towards the environment and society, we always encourage a plastic-free environment within the work premises.

Our Recreational Club which consists of voluntarily appointed employees as office bearers facilitate many initiatives to engage employees in community work. (Eg: Blood Donation campaign). The majority of volunteers in this committee are millennials as well. Further, AIA has signed an MoU with the University of Wayamba to support the students in the Department of Insurance and Valuation with professional expertise. Every year we offer an internship opportunity to the student with the best academic results and a scholarship with an internship allowance. Further, we have tied up with many other local universities and higher education institutes to carry out various career guidance programmes to educate and support undergraduates with our professional talent pool.

How has the company benefited by creating a workplace that’s attractive to millennials?

The nature of the insurance industry is evolving. It used to be a serious, mature industry that required an older, experienced workforce. But now we see more dynamism, vibrance and youth in the industry as a whole and this is visible in our workforce as well.

Diversity has always been a primary challenge for the insurance industry and there has been a lot of focus to attract, retain and develop young workers. Today, millennials are a key contributor to the industry, building a strong pipeline of talent which is utmostly important for the future progression of the industry. Hence, more avenues are being opened for millennials/young generations in the insurance industry. This tech savvy, young blood brings positive results to move ahead and stay ahead in the insurance industry.

How do you align the goals of the organization with employee expectations? And, how do you keep millennials motivated?

At AIA, performance is one of the most critical factors as we remain focused on building a high-performance culture. The performance management process uniquely known as Performance Development Dialogue (PDD) is about helping everyone succeed in AIA so that they can bring out the best of themselves at work every day.

To achieve long term sustainable business results, we encourage our employees to challenge the status quo and make changes in how they think and do the right thing at work. Hence, ‘WHAT’ they need to achieve is linked to our strategic priorities. ‘HOW’ they achieve it, is linked to our Leadership Essentials and Development goals to support in achieving their ‘What’ and ‘How’ goals.

AIA’s PDD encourages continual coaching and dialogue between managers and employees throughout the year to successfully clarify and set performance expectations and commitments, track and measure performance, agree and monitor development plans.