Recently, while catching up with a longtime insurance executive, I asked him about the highlights of his career. This person had traveled the world to meet innovative clients in exciting new places, presented at numerous conferences and forged a reputation as an industry leader. That’s why I thought it was so powerful – but not surprising – when he said that going through the onboarding, training and development program at his first company stood out as one of his fondest work memories.
His face lit up as he recalled the excitement of learning about a new industry, the challenge of locking in on complex workflows and the support and camaraderie of his colleagues, from peers to senior management. He explained how receiving the right support and training made him feel engaged and confident, no matter the challenge.
His story perfectly articulates the lasting, positive impact that a good onboarding experience can have. And it shouldn’t only apply to employee onboarding.
The insurance industry has been slow to adopt technology overall, and for good reason. Insurers have been burned time and again by technology projects – they overextend, underperform, misalign or simply don’t move fast enough. Onboarding plays a big role in this.
In a conversation with a member of my team – a former underwriter who has since moved to the vendor side – she offered a perspective on what can happen when a move to a new technology solution doesn’t go smoothly. All of the problems she identified could have been mitigated at least in part by a better onboarding process.
“The challenges were present throughout the project,” she said. “My company had never used a technology solution as advanced as this one, and off the bat, there were major disconnects in terms of the resources we could commit, the expectations of the intended users and the overall plan for putting it into place. I remember thinking how impactful it would have been to have our technology provider in the trenches with our internal team, truly listening to our concerns and working alongside us to alleviate them.”
Her story illustrates the idea that technology onboarding programs are just as essential as the technology itself. When executed well, onboarding supports firms in making the most of their investment.
The Technology Onboarding Imperative
The key thing to understand about onboarding is that it requires far more than a simple set of processes and some training modules. It requires being prepared for any challenge that might arise during implementation, as well as remaining flexible as the end users lend their voice to the process. Onboarding tends to occur at critical inflection points, whether in terms of business strategy or people’s careers, so the importance of this supportive, communicative approach to driving engagement cannot be overstated.
The stakes are especially high today given the challenges that many insurers and their employees are facing. Firms have been vexed in recent years by prolonged hiring processes, so having the right tools and approach to help users contribute ASAP is a key priority. Effective onboarding also creates consistency and a baseline level of knowledge throughout the organization, so all employees are using tools in optimal ways and collectively laying a foundation for future evolution.
Employees, meanwhile, are seeking interconnectedness in a remote, post-pandemic work world – and, in doing so, are helping to reshape how and from where their firms operate. It is imperative that onboarding plans align with firms’ goals for this new era, and that they provide the support that is required for the various functions and roles of their users. Employees want to feel they are helping to drive the technology onboarding phase and gaining meaningful efficiencies through responsive processes that meet their exact needs. An approach that emphasizes clear, frequent communication, interactive experiences and human connection can go a long way toward fueling excitement and buy-in.
Finally, effective onboarding puts insurers in a better position to leverage technology as a competitive advantage. Writing more business faster and more accurately presents obvious benefits, but the impact can be just as powerful on the recruiting front. Employees want to work for companies that give them access to the latest tools and help support their development by giving them exposure to different parts of the organization and training that sets them up for career-long success.
An Onboarding Edge
Now that we’ve established the importance of identifying technology partners with effective onboarding programs, how can these partners go about implementing them? While the below list is by no means exhaustive, we at Insurance Quantified have come up with some best practices for onboarding that center on one core objective: helping to eliminate fear of the unknown and lead clients through change.
- Present Change as a Natural Evolution – For an organization to fully buy into a new technology solution, stakeholders must think of it as a logical extension of the work they’re already doing, providing value and efficiency to their current processes, not as a radical shift. For us, that means understanding our clients’ day-to-day workflows, goals and pain points so we can tailor the onboarding process to them and help our technology fit in seamlessly.
- Demonstrate Alignment with Business Goals – The goal of technology onboarding projects should be framed as unlocking or impacting specific business objectives or results. Misalignment between the insurer and the provider in terms of goals and expectations is all but guaranteed to lead to prolonged timelines, slow adoption, lack of trust and, ultimately, disappointment. Transparent communication can head off these issues. Effective onboarding must help people visualize what success will look like and understand the impact it will have.
- Embark on a Journey – Even the most efficient onboarding processes need a thoughtful plan. Framing them as a journey, with short-term goals to work toward, clear milestones and a sense of positivity and celebration when these are achieved, can go a long way toward driving engagement throughout the process. By creating this sense of a journey, you build the foundation for a continuous relationship beyond the onboarding phase.
- Create User Champions – To earn end-user trust and adoption, actual end users should be included upfront in the onboarding and testing phase, not only at the end for training. This creates self-learning opportunities and helps encourage questions and feedback that can ultimately lead to these individuals becoming champions of change within the organization.
- Be Responsive – Open communication during onboarding is crucial, but continued responsiveness and hands-on involvement throughout the life of the relationship is just as important. An organization should exit the onboarding process knowing that the technology provider will be there to help when there are questions, snags or additional needs.
Looking ahead, these considerations will only increase in importance. As information overload intensifies, insurers must ensure that they not only have the right technology solutions in place, but also that their employees can start using them quickly and optimally while remaining happy and engaged in their day-to-day workflows.
Technology may have disruptive potential, but we are committed to helping our clients adopt it with as little internal disruption as possible. That starts with effective onboarding.
For more on the topic, watch Shireen Braun on the “Leading Change” podcast with Ema Roloff where they discuss the value that non-traditional backgrounds have a big impact on the people side of technology adoption.