Tag Archives: ains

4 Good Ways to Welcome Employees

The first day at a new job means a new company, new responsibilities, new co-workers, a new commute–a whole new routine.

Employers have a lot at stake, too. Many people put a lot of time and energy into picking this new hire. They’re counting on that person to get up to speed quickly and start contributing. They need the new employee to be a good fit.

But according to researchers, new hires aren’t focused just on fitting in, they’re thinking about reinventing themselves. A new job and a new social setting represent a rare opportunity for people to show their authentic selves or even to reshape their personalities.

It’s like the first day at a new school–a clean slate and a chance to be somebody new.

Given this motivation, researchers argue that most organizations focus way too much attention on getting new hires to fit in. There’s certainly a lot for a new employee to learn, and the sooner they get up to speed, the sooner they can have a positive impact.

As many of us have seen from our own careers, it’s tough to do a lot of actual work on your first day. It’s much more about learning about the organization and the role you’re going to play.

See also: How to Shrink Employees’ Waistlines  

Take a look at the top three reasons people quit their jobs within six months, according to a survey by BambooHR:

  • They decided that the work was something they didn’t want to do any more.
  • They felt that they were given different work from what they expected based on their interview.
  • The boss was a jerk.

While these may look like problems with the work and responsibilities at first glance, they may actually have more to do with cultural issues like incompatible management styles and unclear expectations.

With a few tweaks, you can shift your organization’s approach to an employee’s first day and help employees define themselves within your organization rather than feeling like they have to change to fit in. That shift, coupled with some other first-day best practices, can get employees up to speed and productive much more quickly. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Keep paperwork to a minimum

New hires walk through the doors on their first day ready to hit the ground running and prove their value. They want to define their identities, and that usually includes being seen as a hard worker. But at too many organizations, that zeal is squandered on administrative activities like filling out HR forms. The result is a notable dip in spirit and some paperwork that’s filled out really, really well.

As much as possible, keep administrative tasks to a minimum on an employee’s first day. Ideally, new hires will fill out all or most of the forms before their first day. Here’s a great way to communicate a little culture–send an email that says, “We can’t wait for you to dig right in on your first day, so please complete this paperwork and bring it with you.”

2. Prepare for downtime

No matter how prepared you are to welcome a new employee, he or she is going to have some downtime on day one. Inevitably, a meet-and-greet will get rescheduled or something unexpected will crop up, leaving the new hire having an hour to kill. Even after day one, new hires aren’t likely to accelerate to full throttle right away. It will take some time–days, weeks or months, depending on the complexity of the job–before a new hire hits full stride. Continuing engagement and coaching is critical during this onboarding phase.

Have a plan in place that goes beyond just sending the employee back to her desk to, say, fill out paperwork. Instead, give new employees a chance to express some of their personality with an introductory email. Encourage them to be a little less formal, to share a bit of their personal lives and why they’re excited to join the team.

A better option is to set them up with a learning list: online courses, books, articles, webinars and podcasts to help them learn how your organization sees the industry and to show that lifelong learning is a top priority.

Ideally, this list would be created internally as one more way to demonstrate your culture. But there are plenty of external sources, including The Community and other collections of resources.

3. Show your culture

One of the best ways to help new hires find their niche within your organization is to give them a glimpse into your culture from day one. Make a point to include the new hire in social activities in your office–a group lunch, an afternoon trivia challenge, chats about popular TV shows, etc. New employees will feel like part of the team and get a chance to show a little personality.

Demonstrating your culture doesn’t require fun distractions. Bringing the new hire in on a brainstorm session or setting up an informal meeting with a company leader can also showcase the attitudes and behaviors your organization values most.

Or it could be as simple as sneaking a little bit of your company perspective into your welcome letter. Here’s how Apple, for example, welcomes new employees.

See also: The Era of Free Agent Employees  

4. Start your formal onboarding process

Don’t forget to incorporate your employee’s first day into your formal onboarding process. As you work to make the first day engaging and culture-focused, also set the new hire up with a clear path to success over the first several months on the job.

Help the new employee develop a support network, including a mentor, and be sure that new employees know where to turn for the resources they need to do their job successfully. Peer-to-peer learning is a powerful tool that gives employees a certain sense of independence and belonging, which are important attributes to success. Connecting new hires to others who have recently been in the same situation can also help ease new hires into their role and help keep them on track to success.

If you choose to assign new hires a mentor (and you absolutely should), that mentor can take the lead on a lot of these day-one activities, from organizing a company lunch to making the most of downtime.

Be sure to schedule periodic meetings to catch up with new hires. These scheduled meetings give both the hiring manager and the new hire some dedicated time to review progress, answer questions and stay engaged with one another.

Like many things in life, you will get out of new hire onboarding process only what you put into it. While it takes precious time and effort, the cost of not successfully onboarding your new hire is even greater, and a failed hire will put you right back to the beginning of the hiring process and further from realizing the organization’s goals.

Want to bring new employees up to speed in the rapidly changing insurance industry? An AINS designation is a good place to start.

4 Keys to Charting Your Career

If you just landed your first job in the insurance business, chances are that you’re focused on that new position, not necessarily on what comes next in your career. You’re probably plenty busy doing what’s necessary right now—learning the new job, adjusting to a new company culture and hustling to prove yourself. You’re giving 100% to succeeding in your new role.

That’s smart, especially considering that most new hires have less than two weeks to prove themselves on the job, according to new research from Fullbridge and Harris Poll. One in four executives say that employers take only two weeks to decide whether an entry-level new hire will be successful. Other executives say that it will take longer, but all agreed that it takes less than three months. With stats like that, it makes sense that long-term career goals take a back seat to making a great first impression.

But while you’re settling into the rhythm of your new gig, you should make time to outline a basic road map for the rest of your career. As your early career moves away from entry-level positions and into more specialized roles with more responsibility, giving some thought to your future goals and plans can have a huge impact on your overall career trajectory.

See also: The Many Paths to a Career in Risk

There’s plenty of traditional advice available for people early in their career. A lot of that information is good, but there’s also more current insight applicable to young professionals. Here’s our breakdown of four ways to chart a course early in your career and figure out what makes you happiest on the job.

1. Don’t job hop—department hop

Young professionals today have a reputation for switching jobs a lot more often than previous generations do. Recent research shows that this characterization is largely unearned. Young people tend to switch jobs more often than older workers, but millennials aren’t switching at a higher rate than young adults of past generations did.

Changing jobs early in your career has its benefits, including a chance to earn more money and exposing yourself to more aspects of the industry. But there are downsides, too. Switching jobs is hard work, and some of it may be unrelated to learning the insurance business. You’ll need to learn to adapt to a new company culture. You may need to relocate. You may have to build your network of work friends and go-to leaders all over again. In short, you’re almost starting from scratch each time you switch organizations.

Many young professionals have found a happy medium in department hopping. With the right organization, young insurance pros can gain hands-on experience in a variety of insurance disciplines through shorter stints in different departments. This gives you an opportunity to talk to different managers about salary ranges and your career priorities, and you can learn more about the industry without starting over at a new organization. If you’re interested in switching departments, take a look at Lifehacker’s advice for having that conversation with your boss.

2. Don’t find just a mentor—find a sponsor

There’s no doubt that finding a mentor early in your career is extremely important. Many of the insurance professionals profiled on The Community cite finding a mentor as one of the most essential components of their early-career success. Mentors play a key role in career growth, but the Harvard Business Review argues that there’s another supporter you need in your corner: a sponsor.
While mentors take a comprehensive look at your career (and often your personal life), a sponsor is someone within your current organization who can act as your advocate. It should be an executive or another leader who offers career guidance “by making important introductions to senior leaders, expanding the perception of what you can offer the organization and offering powerful backing to help you soar and protection when you stumble,” according to author Sylvia Ann Hewlett.

3. Don’t just network—learn more about the industry

So much of the focus on early career development is on networking. Make no mistake—growing your professional network is important. But for young professionals, pure networking events like happy hours and meet-ups aren’t the most efficient way to meet other insurance pros and find new opportunities.

Early in your career, there are plenty of ways to learn about the industry that also offer networking as a key secondary benefit. Look into industry designations. (AINS is a great way to get a comprehensive look at the insurance industry to figure out which elements of the business interest you most.) Or you can register for an industry conference and bring a stack of business cards. You also have a much better chance of getting your employer to chip in for these kinds of experiences.

As you work to gain greater industry insight and expertise, forging relationships with other soon-to-be designees or conference participants will come naturally. And those relationships will be rooted in the pursuit of industry knowledge and career interests rather than personal ambition and cocktail-party chatter.

See also: Work/Life Balance … Your Tightrope to a Rewarding Career  

4. Don’t just think about goals—write them down

One last small piece of advice for charting your career: once you determine some concrete goals, write them down. Recent research from Dominican University of California found that individuals who write down their goals and share them with others are far more likely to achieve them than people who didn’t write them down or tell others about them.

Writing down your goals and sharing them—perhaps with your sponsor or growing professional network—go a long way toward making you accountable for achieving them. As you advance in your career and take advantage of new opportunities in a quickly changing industry, make sure to refer to your written goals and update them regularly.

Have you found success charting your career goals? Let us hear your best tip in the comments section below.

A 4-Step Plan on Personal Development

Research documenting the benefits of lifelong learning for individuals and organizations is overwhelming. An EvoLLLution report spelled out these benefits in a survey of employers:

  • 96% said continuing education has a positive impact on job performance.
  • 78% said it factors into promotion and advancement on the job.
  • 87% said it affects compensation and salary.

You may need to ask your manager for investment in your professional development, but there is a good chance the conversation won’t be uncomfortable. Plenty of organizations place a high value on lifelong learning and have programs in place to support employees who want to grow their knowledge base— especially within our industry.

As you craft a pitch to pursue an insurance designation or another form of professional development, here’s our four-step guide to help you get started:

Step 1 – See what your company offers

At organizations that understand the value of continuing education, you may actually find yourself a step behind if you don’t take advantage of professional development opportunities. Check with human resources for a specific process for pursuing education before you approach your boss. You may find that HR has a learning and development program you hadn’t known about.

See also: How to Develop an Innovation Perspective  

Don’t forget about continuing education credits. Too often these credit hours are an afterthought that are more about checking a box before an imminent deadline than real professional growth—but they don’t have to be. There are lots of ways to make the time spent earning those credits worthwhile. If you’re required to complete continuing education, make part of your pitch explaining why the professional development you’re interested in will help to grow your skillset, being sure to mention that it will also count toward fulfilling your CE credit requirements.

Step 2 – Start small

It’s unreasonable to expect your organization to pay for an MBA after just a week on the job. Start pursuing professional development by asking for something that won’t require big changes or a significant financial commitment from your organization. Request approval to subscribe to a trade publication, to sign up for a webinar or to attend a local conference.

Professional development is a career-long process. As such, you should incorporate education into discussions with your supervisor as you’re discussing career goals, aligning education goals with your career objectives. For example, if you want to gain a strong foundation in general insurance concepts, talk about AINS as a way to build that knowledge base.

Step 3 – Prepare your pitch

Once you’ve successfully received buy-in for a few smaller investments in continuing education, you can plan a discussion for more significant professional development. Your conversation should be professional and compelling. A couple of tips:

  • Rehearse—Structure your pitch to be as convincing as possible and practice it until you’re able to present your case with confidence and passion.
  • Ask for approval with confidence—You know this professional development will benefit you and the organization. Work off the assumption that your boss agrees.
  • Choose the right time—In some organizations, a performance review is the right time to bring up professional development, but that’s not always the case. Choosing the right time and circumstances may increase your chances of gaining approval for the request.

Step 4 – Spell out the benefits

Professional development should go both ways—it should benefit the professional and the organization. Explain how a selected professional development opportunity will improve your skills and improve the organization.

Try to do this as specifically as possible: Instead of saying, “AINS will broaden my general insurance knowledge,” consider, instead, “AINS will allow me to be more knowledgeable on coverage options and how we differ from our competitors when I talk to customers.”

See also: Getting Back in Step With People’s Needs  

Here’s one particularly effective way to increase the benefits your organization will see from your professional development: offer to share your new knowledge with co-workers. Host a few lunches summarizing this knowledge or simply pass along articles, white papers or other materials. You won’t be able to share all of your knowledge, but your efforts will show your boss that you’re committed to maximizing the value your organization will get from your newfound know-how.

What tips have you used to get your boss to buy into your passion for lifelong learning? Tell us below!