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How to Take Your Agency's Company Culture from Stagnant to Stellar

Posted on May 31, 2016 by Guy Weismantel

Digital Insurer blog header

When you walk into the office on a Monday morning, what's the general atmosphere like?

I'm not talking about the smell of coffee or the tapping of computer keys. Think about the people you work with. Do they smile and greet each other? Do they sit down at their desks with a contented air, or do they sink into their chairs as if in despair at the incoming wave of work?

For any great insurance agency, it's imperative that you cultivate a positive company culture. If it seems your coworkers are just going through the motions, are feeling stressed out, or just have a general negativity toward their work, there's your clue that everything isn't running smoothly. Any sense of disconnection, dullness, or dread among your employees that goes unaddressed will inevitably seep into your customer relations no matter how hard you try to avoid it. A happy, healthy workforce isn't just more functional— it's more profitable.

A Quick Self-Test

Let's first look at the facts. Did you know that 15% of insurance agencies don't have a strategy for employee engagement and retention? Another 13% have a strategy, but it's outdated and doesn't work well for the modern workforce. About 35% of insurance agencies have changed their strategy within the past 18 months, and another 37% are working on updating their employee retention and engagement strategies right now.

So what does all this mean?

Well, where does your company fall in that breakdown? If you're among the 28% with no strategy or an outdated strategy, it's time to take action. Otherwise, your company risks slipping backward, becoming an agency that is notorious for employee dissatisfaction and frequent turnover. Wouldn't you rather have people who enjoy the company culture, and who stay loyal throughout the years, and actually want to work for you? I can answer that question for you: Yes.

With loyalty and longevity comes increased skill and professionalism, not to mention, better connections with clients. This becomes especially important when it comes to cross-selling products and increasing the value of a customer to your organization over time.

New technology

The Software Scenario

What are some of the causes for employee disengagement or dissatisfaction? Outdated software is one of the primary pains in the workforce. Our 2016 Hanover Research survey discovered that software has an impact on job satisfaction in the insurance industry. Agencies who use modern agency management systems reported higher satisfaction levels and an improved ability to multitask.

Imagine for a moment an employee named Ken. He comes to work on Monday, goes straight to his desk, and spends all morning wading through tasks using sluggish, antiquated software. He grabs a quick lunch, then returns to an afternoon of more mind-numbing tasks at his computer, made slower, and less intuitive by the software he is using. He's just about to finish up for the day and then his system crashes. Sound familiar? We've all had blue screen or spinning wheel moments, which is to say, we've all been infuriated before. Maybe Ken doesn't even realize that there is new software on the market that could help him be more productive? Ken only knows this is how he has always done his job, whether he likes it or not. And chances are, he doesn't like it. In fact, it's driving him crazy, and he looks for every excuse to get out of the office early.

Insurance agencies often stick with older programs because they are already in place and they "work."

It's like the old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The problem with this logic is it overlooks a process that might truly be broken.

Just because something works doesn't mean you should continue using it. ESPECIALLY when your competition is using the latest and greatest technology. Imagine what Ken could do with 5% more time? 10%? 25%? He'd have time to make client connections and develop new strategies for reaching customers.

The short story: less time fidgeting with the computer or inputing information and more time making the business money is a big win for Ken.

And for those balking at the idea of cost...the cost of the software upgrade gets paid back in the form of new business generated by the increase in free hours now suddenly opened up for Ken and his coworkers to close deals. I know it can be a hard and complicated process to determine where technology fits into your business strategy, but you have to understand that your competition isn't the small agency down the street anymore. You're competing with organizations that understand the value of investing in new technology and have already started placing their bets. 

From Stagnant to Stellar

If you want to stay one step ahead of your competitors, you need to refresh the way you manage your workforce. Instead of leaving your company culture to create itself, take a more intentional approach in six key areas:

1.  Process planning
2.  Employee relations
3.  Recruiting and selection
4.  Training and development
5.  Performance management and compensation
6.  Strategic support.

Change is always a little nerve-wracking; but sometimes, the absence of change is much more frightening. In the same way that a stagnant pool breeds mosquitoes, the sameness and dullness of a workplace can breed depressed, complacent, or careless employees.

Challenge yourself and your employees! It may sound overwhelming at first, but there are small steps you can take that have the potential to produce major results. To discover more ways to create a positive company culture, click below and download the e-book "Managing Your Workforce in the Digital Era."

For best practices and detailed research about how you can foster a positive company culture, download our free e-book: Managing your agency workforce in the digital era: Strategies and solutions for maximizing employee performance and engagement. 

Mr. Weismantel is the Vice President of Marketing at Vertafore. With 20 years of marketing and financial leadership in companies such as Microsoft, Business Objects, Baxter HealthCare, Caremark International, and Expedia, Guy’s career has focused on bringing differentiated products to market and providing the “compelling reason to purchase” for customers and prospects alike.

Guy has a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame, and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


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