A CEO’s Insights: Thriving in a Dynamic Economy

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Evolving Employees to Evolve Your Business

A consistent theme in these reports is workforce availability and development. As a CEO, getting and keeping the employees we need is top of mind. There’s one aspect of workforce development, though, that I don’t think gets enough attention: ongoing skillbuilding to ensure that the employees you have right now are the ones you’ll want to retain.

Whatever industry you’re in, you’re facing digital disruption and changing customer expectations. Do your employees have the skills they need to help your company, as well as themselves, thrive in the future? What can you as an employer do to help them grow in ways that will help you meet your business objectives?

At Pinnacol, we have focused very intentionally on these questions, with three initiatives that build upon each other to help our employees build the skills that match the evolution of our company and our industry. Each reflects our belief that intense focus on the customer will drive down costs and grow our business.

The first is designed to deeply embed an empathetic customer-service mindset in all our employees, not just those with “customer service” in their titles. It’s a multi-week program that starts with intensive training on service standards, then moves to team-led and peer reviews and self-evaluations of recorded interactions with customers. We piloted the program with our teams who have the lowest net promoter scores – and they leapt to the best ever scores in the company’s history. Now we’re extending this approach company-wide.

Another program is designed to help employees develop a “sales solution” mindset to complement our service orientation. As a company, we have been fortunate to be the workers’ comp carrier of choice for tens of thousands of Colorado businesses for many years. But we can’t assume that will always be the case; we have to earn the business and trust of those companies and the agents who serve them. Helping our employees learn to better understand our agents’ and policyholders’ needs and craft solutions for them goes hand-in-hand with our customer service mindset and is essential if we are to remain competitive.

Finally, we are developing an ambitious initiative to connect all our 650 employees with the learning and skill-building opportunities necessary for them to evolve along with us. As our company, our industry and our society move from analog to digital ways of doing business, our employees need to do the same. We’re not talking about teaching underwriters to write code or program a bot (though we’re happy to do so if they’re interested), but they and everyone else in our company – HR, legal, communications, claims, etc. – has to understand how to deploy artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to advance our corporate strategies and achieve our business goals.

It’s always been enlightened self-interest, of course, for a company to play an active role in developing its own employees. I would argue that the need is greater now than ever before. The workforce is aging, unemployment is historically low and we simply can’t create all the new workers we need from scratch. It’s a wise investment to help your existing employees build the skills that keep your company competitive.

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About Phil Kalin

Phil Kalin joined Pinnacol Assurance as CEO in 2013. He has served as the chief executive of both public and privately-backed companies, including large hospital systems, as well as organizations focused on health care data, technology and education. He has been active nationally on health care topics related to insurance, data analytics, technology innovation, cost improvement and risk mitigation. Phil is providing an informed opinion on what we see in the Monthly Economic Indicators.

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About Pinnacol

Pinnacol Assurance is the Metro Denver EDC's Research Sponsor. Pinnacol is Colorado’s leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance. Pinnacol provides comprehensive, competitively priced coverage; immediate attention to claims; a highly qualified network of medical providers; and proactive safety programs to more than 55,000 Colorado businesses. Annually, Pinnacol supports nearly $500 million of Colorado’s economic activity, spends over 35,000 hours keeping Colorado worksites safe and provides compassionate care to over 40,000 Coloradans injured on the job.

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