How one insurance company is using tech to attract talent

For the past two years, Lyons Companies has been using tech and time to woo talented workers. When boomers begin retiring, they’ll be ready.

A happy unintended consequence: They were able to move to offices that are 40 percent smaller.

Trying to stay ahead of the curve, Lyons heeded demographer Kenneth Gronbach’s warning that the insurance industry faces an impending talent crisis. The company made immediate moves to beat the shortage, but those moves are paying off in other ways too.

Here’s a lineup of Lyons’ moves:

• The company allows employees to work remotely, when their jobs lend themselves to it. “When you’re looking at an average commute of 35, 40 minutes, fighting I-95 traffic, and that’s one way, if I can save you that 90 minutes, it’s a huge selling point,” said Kevin Thomas, chief operating officer at Lyons.

• When staff members began working remotely, the company installed encryption devices on phones to protect customers’ information. “In insurance, you’re dealing with some really, really sensitive information,” Thomas said. “Cyber security is the big buzzword nowadays, but you can’t open up the newspaper without finding a story of someone somewhere where there was some sort of breach.

He said older staffers at the firm favored iPhones, while millennials and Generation Y generally favored Android phones. The iPhones were easier to protect because encryption software was built in and all
the phones were basically the same, he said.

• Staffers now have a soft phone app that allows their cell phones to perform like work phones when they want, and personal phones when they don’t. When they are off duty, a switch turns off all work notifications.

• Lyons’ offices look night-and-day different than they did three years ago. One example: A conference room with a white board table so staffers can sketch out ideas.

• The sales team is issued Microsoft Surfaces that can be used as laptops or
as tablets.

• While the insurance industry once meant piles of white paper, now Lyons asks its insurance carriers to email digital copies of any necessary paperwork before meetings. That way the information is always available in email.

• When customers do visit Lyons’ office, there’s no more overhead projectors or laptop PowerPoints involved. Meeting rooms are fitted with high-definition screens to cast all the information.

“You don’t need to be messing with wires, you just hit the cast button on your screen and whatever information you want to discuss is on the screen,” Thomas said.

• Five years ago, Lyons staff used paper checklists to assure paperwork was pushed along on deadline. Nowadays, agency management software simply delivers a pop-up reminder on a computer screen 120 days before a policy is set to renew.

• Rather than wall-to-wall office equipment, the company’s 3-month-old offices at Rockwood Office Park feature hot desks that any tablet-toting staffer can use as needed.

• Millennial customers often prefer to buy their insurance via texts and emails. Lyons adapted its sales procedures so customers can text, email or schedule a traditional meeting with a salesperson.

• They used to hold seminars; now they hold webinars too. The webinars draw bigger audiences.
“The way that people picture insurance — the old guy behind the desk handwriting a policy — that’s obviously evolving,” Thomas said.

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