The broking world rarely stays the same for long. Regulatory changes drop from above, changing long-held practices. Companies set their sights on new targets. New risks emerge, changing the needs of clients.
Keeping staff up-to-date on these changes and more is where internal communications comes in. For many years, face-to-face meetings, workplace signage and print communications, such as newsletters and memos, formed the main means for organisations to communicate with their staff.
As it is with so many other aspects of modern life, digital technology has been busy reshaping internal communications. Intranets and, increasingly, internal social media networks are now taking pride of place in many insurance industry communication strategies.
No two organisations are the same; your firm might have multiple branch offices spread across the country or it may have just one location.
The way to gauge best practice is by whether there is a clear understanding of what the business seeks to achieve.
The way to gauge best practice is by determining whether there is a clear understanding of what the business seeks to achieve. There should be multiple communication channels so the most appropriate one can be used, depending on the nature of the message.
Caught in the net
When MGA Insurance Brokers started updating its work health and safety initiatives, its goal was to empower everyone to take responsibility for a safe working environment. In order to reach this goal, MGA needed to open up a dialogue with its employees to find out if they were conducting safe work practices and to make them aware of company policies.
“From our perspective, communications is more about compliance and training,” says MGA General Manager Paul George.
He explains that online surveys and management systems were key in helping them assess and institute critical initiatives such as the WHS regime, which can be replicated across 29 MGA branches.
Casting a web for staff
CGU Insurance has found connecting through the use of an intranet to be the most effective, supported by regular emails conveying business news. An electronic newsletter puts key information into a user-friendly format, preventing the need for multiple announcements.
Furthermore, society is accustomed to the seamless communication that can be achieved by integrating technology trends. By using these advances in a business setting, it can simplify your communications and help track them across multiple office locations. It’s now possible to synchronise announcements and allow access to a single document through cloud storage.
Like CGU, OAMPS also relies on its intranet as a base for its communications strategy. National Communications Manager Melissa Montang says its new SharePoint intranet allows for topic-specific, two-way communication. It also hosts the company’s Yammer feed, a private social network that has substantially increased activity and communication between employees.
“We developed the intranet based on feedback from our people in our annual engagement survey, and from the get-go it was built by brokers, for brokers, to enable our people to find everything they need in order to deliver an exceptional client experience,” Montang says.
“The main landing page we focused on was the Broking Centre, which is structured to provide the tools our brokers need for every step of the client lifecycle.”
It’s still a new system, Montang says. Launched in mid-May, the company still has a number of features it wants to create and add.
“It’s very much a living, evolving platform that we’ll develop to meet our future needs as we progress,” she says.
New and old
To supplement this system, OAMPS still sends a weekly eNewsletter to its employees with business news and information. Instead of long emails with the stories included, the intranet houses articles drafted during the week and a wrap-up is sent with article links to streamline valuable information.
This can be paired with new technology such as webinars and video conferencing in order to share group information, perform training exercises and share thought leadership with clients. It’s an area many brokerages see as a place for growth in the future.
However, businesses agree that technology isn’t used at the expense of traditional channels. It should be seen as support for in-person conversations.
Creating these opportunities and making time for leaders in your organisation to talk about critical points helps employees visualise how they contribute to the company goals.
It also gives your management team the ability to collect feedback and update business plans based on conversations employees may hesitate to instigate through other channels.
“Face-to-face communication is arguably our most effective channel, though of course the challenges with having such a strong national footprint of branches is the cost and time to bring our leaders together,” Montang says.
No matter the avenue the conversation takes, whether it’s newsletters, email or intranet, the important thing is to ensure your messages fulfil their purposes in a timely manner.