Company name = Allianz Australia
Industry = Insurance
No. of employees = 4500+
As a global leader in the insurance business, and insuring over 3.5 million Australians, Allianz’s purpose is “We secure your future”. It’s clear this sentiment of care very much applies to their employees as well. Allianz has developed a standout flexible work offering “Flex Between the Flags” and delivered a comprehensive response supporting their people through the pandemic achieving lasting results in engagement and productivity.
Adapting work to thrive, not just survive
Twelve months ago, at the start of the pandemic and lockdowns, like many employers, Allianz’s priority was to ensure their people were safe. Within just a matter of weeks they transitioned 95% of their 4500+ Australia workforce to a complete work from home arrangement – no easy task. The next challenge though was to support their people’s physical and mental wellbeing as the pandemic dragged on, to help them stay engaged, connected, and productive.
At the start of the lockdowns, Allianz launched a COVID hub & other initiatives for their people to help them stay well and connected. It included:
- Daily comms, and up-to-date info and FAQs on working arrangements etc
- Leader resources, webinars, and leading virtual teams’ toolkits
- Wellbeing resources, online yoga classes
- Resources and support for those vulnerable to family and domestic violence
- A ‘Dare to Care’ campaign with virtual events encouraging people to prioritise their wellbeing
Recognising early that team connectivity and social connection were key to maintaining their people’s engagement and wellbeing, Allianz quickly deployed several initiatives that enabled leaders to guide their teams in new ways of working. These included capability sessions for leaders on empathetic leadership, how to lead virtually through technology, building psychological safety, elevating wellbeing, resilience and more. In addition to the formal support offerings, there was a broad calendar of health and wellbeing virtual events throughout the year including online yoga classes.
As the lockdown and restrictions began to ease, the organisation shifted to their “Flex Between the Flags” approach for hybrid teams. Flex Between the Flags is all about aligning the needs of employees, the needs of the team, the required outcomes of individual and team roles and providing both internal and external customers with great outcomes.
By setting the parameters within which flex can work for employees and individual teams, it’s a lot like the safety net that is in place when we swim between the flags at the beach – it’s an agreement that if we stay within the flags, we will be supported effectively.
Underpinning the Flex Between the Flags framework are five guiding principles to assist in the discussion and agreement on the flex arrangements that will work best for everyone involved. These include:
- Flex is not a ‘one size fits all’ arrangement
- Flex is a ‘two-way street’ where the needs of both the team and the individual are considered
- Flex is reason-neutral, and our approach takes away the need for managers to make judgement calls on the reasons for flex being requested
- Trust – flexibility is an agreement entered into between the employee and their manager
- Outcomes, not face time
Flex & Parental leave – Avé Best, Operations Specialist.
As a consequence of the pandemic, 2020 was truly the year in which flexible working conditions became the norm. For people like Avé Best, an operations specialist at Allianz Australia, this shift finally gave others a chance to experience the work approach she has had in place for almost five years.
“I first began flexible work arrangements when I was on maternity leave almost five years ago. Due to my son, Deacon, being born with a rare genetic condition called Apert syndrome, I needed to take two years of maternity leave. Though he’s just four years old, Deacon’s condition has already seen him undergo 17 separate surgeries. He doesn’t have full function of his fingers, is deaf, has a brain injury and is unable to walk long distances. To help him get ready for primary school, I was able to temporarily work a reduced number of hours with Allianz’s support.
A good flex working arrangement tailored for the individual starts with an open discussion with one’s manager. In my case, Allianz offered ‘occasional work’ while I was on maternity leave. I was able to work an approved number of hours per week and could increase my hours with the approval of my manager, which suited my circumstances at the time.”
Over the last 12 months, at Allianz productivity levels have remained the same and, in some cases, improved in the business. Not surprisingly overall engagement levels have also increased according to their people engagement surveys. Employee engagement levels have also remained high with a 92-94% favourable response against the questions asked about flexibility and the ability to balance personal and professional commitments.
Interestingly the results of the employee engagement survey also found that those now utilising flexible work arrangements generally reported higher levels of engagement than those who didn’t want any form of flexibility. This higher engagement is expected to translate into more increased tenure with engaged employees more likely to stay with the organisation over the longer term.
The road ahead
Moving forward, Allianz will be taking the opportunity to launch their New Work Model – which incorporates the positive learnings from 2020 into a sustainable, flexible approach to working on an ongoing basis and a vision for how they will work in the future. Allianz’s new way of working does not mean all employees will work from home 100% of the time, as face to face collaboration and connection is an important part of our culture. Where possible, Allianz will empower its people to choose where they work from.
Despite all the disruption through the pandemic, the changes to ways of working as well as Allianz’s ongoing transformation activities, the future is looking bright as the organisation finds itself in a good place.
The 2021 FlexReport bridges the gap in expectations between employers and employees. It examines how new hybrid ways of working are being used to enable growth out of the adversity faced through the pandemic. Growth, both in the corporate sense as employers redefine the future of work inside their organisations, and on an individual level as employees reprioritise the different parts of their lives – inside and outside of work – and how they want to grow personally.
Download the full report here.