With post-pandemic labour markets tight, companies are facing new challenges in recruiting talented employees. The re/insurance industry's purpose –shouldering a myriad of complex risks to help bolster societal resilience – can give us an edge. But we can't rest on our laurels.

After joining Swiss Re mid-pandemic in 2021, I was especially pleased to meet with representatives of our largest international clients at a recent conference at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue near Zurich. Speaking face-to-face with our industry partners – finally -- was an important reminder of how far we have come since the COVID-19 crisis began.

As we discussed the dynamics of attracting future talent to the (re)insurance industry as workplace expectations evolve, these exchanges reminded me that Swiss Re and our clients face some common challenges in attracting, engaging, and developing talented people in a post-pandemic world.

Fortunately, our industry has something to offer employees that help make us an attractive spot to land: A real sense of purpose.

A mission of resilience

Swiss Re's inspiring mission – making the world more resilient – fuels this aspiration. From our Life & Health division's support of families impacted by COVID-19 to Property and Casualty (P&C) products that absorb shocks and help people and companies recover from natural and man-made catastrophes, our purpose is at the center of what we do every day. 

Moreover, values such as environmental sustainability and stewardship are playing an ever-larger role in employee loyalty and satisfaction.From our oil and gas policy to our leadership in the UN-convened Net-Zero Insurance Alliance, Swiss Re is committed to our journey to net-zero.

As we recruit and integrate new talent, these commitments are central to ensuring that our people find meaning and passion. Every employee should be able to say: “I’m doing work that matters, and I'm part of something great.”

Building company culture in a flexible world

As I spoke with our clients, you can imagine how pleased I was when one described Swiss Re as comparable to joining a premier league football team – a team where the best players dream of playing”.

The comment also filled me with a sense of responsibility because I want us to remain worthy of that comparison. That's why it's so important for companies like Swiss Re not to grow complacent. We must work tirelessly to instill the sense of purpose embedded in our corporate culture in our employees – those who have been with the company for decades and those who joined last week. 

"As liberating as flexible working has been in some respects, it has also pushed the limits of employees’ well[1]being and work-life balance"

I'll be the first to admit that this is a process that has changed and, in some ways, grown more challenging. For instance, flexible work flexible work models have become a fact of life. Swiss Re has been at the forefront of work flexibility, having launched our "Own The Way You Work" program more than a half-decade half-decade ago. But the pandemic pushed this kind of flexibility to the front of the agenda. 

Like our clients, we’ve observed that observed that the remote collaboration environment often environment often more strongly affects people affects people who are relatively new to Swiss Re than long-time employees, people who already know their colleagues and our culture well. For newer employees, particularly the hundreds who joined us during the pandemic, it has been a challenge been a challenge to connect with our mission, with managers, and with colleagues, some of whom they are only now meeting in person. 

How are we addressing that? To start by requesting and – importantly -- acting on their feedback. We've already begun to invest more in our onboarding process, especially the technology side of it, to reflect this new landscape. 

Our office. A place to collaborate – and define limits

As we adapt to this new environment, we encourage everyone to come back to the office sometimes. To be active participants in our culture, employees need to physically experience it – to interact with one another and leverage each other's unique talents. Only through in-person interaction can we really foster the right culture.

No one size fits all. For instance, at Swiss Re, from our colleagues in Asia, we've learned it’s uncommon to have dedicated working space at home, so they like coming into the office. This holds true across job roles and generations. That's why we leave it to country managers to find the best local solutions with their teams. There may be more remote working in our digital and tech teams, where many employees ask, “Can I work from anywhere?”

As liberating as flexible working has been in some respects, it has also pushed the limits of employees’ well-being and work-life balance. One client put it like this: "You've got to have separation. During the heights of the pandemic, it was 24/7".Over the past two years, many people also missed the structure and clarity of getting up in the morning and going to the office every day, then saying, “My workday is over – I’m going home now” -- and, in fact, departing for home.

Waiting for talent isn't an option.

Another thing we have done recently at Swiss Re is to take a long-term view on our Talent Acquisition approach. And we are strengthening it further. This is why we've appointed a talent acquisition leader. That person's job is to wake up thinking, “Talent competition is fierce. How will we beat the competition?” and how do we lead our strategic people planning so that Swiss Re has the capabilities we need not only today but in three, five, and ten years? Waiting for the best people to seek us out is no longer enough. 

As employers, we must provide must provide the best future working models for our employees. That's the purpose of my ongoing collaboration with the World Economic Forum (WEF), where the"Good Work Alliance" has brought diverse employers together to discuss how our working models pay tribute to a changing economy and the ever-changing working preferences of different cultures, generations, and personalities. Inclusiveness is critical.

As employers, our agility and flexibility will help to set us apart. But ultimately, it's a sense of purpose that will ensure our employees remain committed to our mission -- from whatever location they are working from.