Corporate culture issues impacting insurer reputations in 2013
alva’s analysis over the second half of 2013 reveals that the insurance sector achieved one of the highest reputation scores of all industries analysed by alva.
While the reputation of many insurers was driven by topical issues affecting the entire sector – such as annuity rates, auto-enrolment reform or the impact of October’s St Jude storm in the UK – corporate culture issues were more nuanced and unique to each company.
So which corporate culture issues impacted on the insurance sector’s reputation in 2013? And were they trending upwards or downwards over the period?
The issue of jobs was a major trending issue in the first half of 2013 following large company overhauls to make insurers leaner and more agile in facing big financial and products & services challenges. In the second half of the year, content remained steady, with job cuts and the threat of cuts contributing negative sentiment to the reputation scores of several companies. Coverage and passing mentions of offshoring criticism earlier in the year also continue to bubble up and could present a risk in 2014. A germinal cross-sector trend of “onshoring” could also present an opportunity in 2014.
Cross-sector employee trust in leadership remains on shaky ground at a time of large upheavals in firms’ structures over the past few years. However, some companies have stood out for consistent drives to improve the benefits packages of employees (including by signing the corporate covenant) and cement a culture of empowerment and transparency. Some are even perceived by employees to be going too far in this regard, for example by providing overly-favourable working hours to mothers compared with single women. The issue of employee benefits has trended upwards over the period.
Apprenticeships and youth engagement
Paid placements, apprenticeships and scholarships for young people have generated positive sentiment towards companies in the sector, particularly from politicians and community leaders. Social media and local press have proven effective platforms for the dissemination and engagement with such content and have also helped companies boost their social performance reputation scores. The issue has trended upwards over the period, driven by the initiatives of one or two companies ahead of the curve.
Appointments and resignations
Appointments tend to draw consistent levels of positive sentiment from company spokespeople making favourable comments about a new employee. But what stood out in the second half of 2013 was much more turbulent sentiment expressed around corporate culture at the board level. This was driven in part by cross-sector employee concern with board-level politics and transparency – most significantly, from a sentiment perspective, in response to media interest piqued by the corporate culture surrounding noteworthy resignations.
While several companies generated positive sentiment for their performance employee and board diversity, some companies went further by having their efforts formally recognised and demonstrating leadership in board diversity. The issue of diversity and its impact on corporate culture has trended upwards over the period.
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