June 03, 2021 | Robert Bowers, National Claims and Customer Service Leader, Westfield Insurance

The Human Component of Claims Transformation

When tackling organizational transformation, we spend a lot of time talking about vision and strategy, picking technologies, changing processes and developing project plans. But often we neglect to properly address the people side of change – and the people are the most important component of successful transformation.

People have their own personalities, fears, strengths and opportunities, change readiness and personal experiences. They are unique and change occurs at that individual level. When you have a large staff, thinking about moving people to new systems, processes or technology is a tough challenge; that’s where your leaders come in. It’s your leaders who make it happen on the front line. Equipping them to instill change principles and ensure that your staff is aligned is key. With the right approach, change can be exciting, or at least acceptable, for staff. Without the right approach, employee morale and customer retention can suffer. Here are some of the ways Westfield has worked to improve our transformation initiatives.

Create win-wins for everyone.
With all this to grapple with, we set specific goals for our claims transformation initiative to create win-wins across the claims spectrum. For each stakeholder group – employees, customers and the entire organization – we’ve identified the payoff.

  • Employees. The key is to promote engagement and value for the employee. Figure out what motivates them, what impacts their daily work life. For example, eliminate redundancies and things that don’t add value for the claims professionals. Make their lives easier so that they can focus on the core things where they can provide the most value – investigating, evaluating and negotiating claims – using their critical thinking skills.

  • Customers. One of our transformation goals at Westfield is to create ease, choice and value for the customer in how they interact with us. This means setting expectations and improving communications along the way including how they get paid or update the claim.

  • Organization. The big picture is to create value for the organization by optimizing and lowering expenses and paying what we owe. This enables us to retain customers and attract new ones.

Empower your team.
It’s critical to invest in change management strategies that will empower your team to help achieve the transformation goals. At Westfield, we’ve done a lot of work on how to best manage change within the organization. We know that if we want to be successful, we focus on four key tenants:

  • Trust
    Be transparent with employees and leaders about what we are doing, why we are doing it and what it means to them personally. Let them know what we know when we can share it and what we don’t know and when we think we will.

  • Engagement
    Prioritize spending time with staff and listening to them. Hear their thoughts about the change and show a willingness to alter the plan.

  • Involvement
    Include staff at all levels throughout the process. The biggest challenger or advocate to the change effort is your best work buddy. People can identify risks that management may not see. Help them understand the vision and they will provide critical feedback to improve the process.

  • Flexibility
    Move forward but make adjustments as data comes in. Gather information from the people who do the work every day and integrate it. This flexibility may mean the difference between success or failure.

We explain to staff that change is a challenge, but our business environment requires change and innovation to remain competitive. We need to continually push change forward and do so with clear intention, adaptability, flexibility and forgiveness. Creating a safe space where people can contribute and tell you what’s on their mind, even if it’s a vent or a challenge or a mistake they made is critical. We are building an intentional culture – one that underscores innovation and values trust, communication and focuses on caring for the employee as an individual rather than an asset.

Focus on the fundamentals.
Managing transformation is a lot like changing a tire while the race car is zooming around the track. Our staff is busy with their daily customer activities and we’re asking them to also change the tires. To manage the process and find the right pace, keep these elements front and center.

  • The criticality of what you are attempting to deliver to the organization

  • The distance you need to go (the gap analysis)

  • The team’s engagement, or the number and complexity of other changes they are processing simultaneously

  • Other factors that exist outside of the transformation that could impact your pace

  • Adaptability, or adjusting when new information is received. Plans are great to have but being flexible if it is warranted may ultimately get your benefits sooner because more people are on board.

Believe in your people.
Most of our folks are change-resilient and we believe in them. If you explain why you are doing something and include them in the process, most will want to help get it done, or at least they will accept it rather than resist. The more transparent you can be, the more you can answer what you know and what you don’t know, building trust and listening, the quicker and deeper the change will stick.

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