Insurance is one of those industries that deals directly with basic human needs, be it medical or financial. Hence, it's probably much easier to secure customers if an insurance company looks after the needs of its own employees first.
As the subsidiary of the world's largest insurer, AXA China Region Insurance has come up with initiatives to ensure that the needs of its employees are met. We believe that building a positive corporate culture and employee engagement are the top priorities for the human resources team.
AXA believes that products can be copied, but culture is unique. We are also convinced that company culture can be a competitive edge to attract people. AXA adopts a constructive culture in its organisational development that can be characterised as promoting achievement and self-actualisation, humanistic, encouraging and affiliative. These attributes can boost satisfaction and one's ability to develop productive relationships and work effectively with people. They can promote a person's proficiency at accomplishing tasks.
Employee engagement is equally important at AXA and is one of our strategies in addressing the relatively high turnover rate in the insurance industry. The consequences of having a disengaged staff can be serious.
Employee engagement starts with listening to the needs of our 1,000 corporate staff and 4,000 financial consultants. The annual internal survey is one of the channels we use to listen to our staff. Besides the survey, our people managers and human resources department help promote mutual communication with the staff during focus group and town hall meetings, and on a day-to-day basis.
When people feel that we are ready to listen to them about their needs, they expect us to take action, so the second step is to respond to their needs. AXA recently set up a breastfeeding room in its office and offered paternity leave.
We also encourage employees to have a balanced development - both in work and in life, mentally and physically. We offer various incentives - such as partly subsidising holiday expenses - to encourage employees to have balanced lives. AXA believes that the more you can engage your employees, the less you need to hire externally.
Aside from work-life balance, career development is another area that our staff are most concerned about. After all, it's people who make the difference, so we work hard on people development. This is a blended learning process with 70 per cent from the job itself, 20 per cent from other people and 10 per cent from classroom training.
We also offer job rotation and job shadowing for staff to try out different roles. An accelerated development plan is also in place to help outstanding young talent reach senior posts quickly.
We are also considering introducing a mentorship programme for some top talents. The line manager is very important, so we have programmes to help them nurture one-to-one relationship with employees, as well as polish their coaching skills.
In terms of classroom training, the AXA University Asia Pacific Campus in Singapore and the brand new AXA Academy in Kowloon Bay were established to help upgrade our own staff and agents' capability.
Everyone can determine whether a company is an engaged or disengaged organisation. Simply walk into the field and you can smell it. AXA, for example, encourages a constructive culture and our staff can demonstrate that with their behaviour. Are they self-motivated? Do they offer encouragement to other people? Do they show team spirit? All of these are visible - and they are contagious.
Sabrina Yuan, chief human resources officer, AXA China Region Insurance