By Agnes Macharia
A business strategy is an outline plan of the actions and decisions a company plans to take to reach its goals and objectives. The strategy defines what the company needs to do to reach its goals. Whereas companies decide what to do in order to reach their goals, the input of their employees is always critical because what they do determines the expected results to be attained.
Organizational culture is a way of working or how it feels to work for a company. When a new employee joins a new organizations it is common to hear the existing employees saying to the new hire that “this is the way we do things around here”. What is being referred to in this case is organizational culture. Organizational culture is built over time and is formed by the language, symbols, rituals, and stories created within an organization. It can also be derived from stated and shared values and practices and underlying beliefs and assumptions.
According to the Harvard Business Review, ‘Great culture should provide continuous alignment to vision, purpose, and goals of organizations’. This helps the organization to remain focused, which assists in attaining the desired results that may be maximum profits, increased market share and reduced expenses, among others. The insurance has various players namely, the risk carriers – insurance and reinsurance companies, intermediaries such as brokers and agents who are engaged in distribution of insurance.
High performance of the insurance industry depends on effective and efficient leadership, operational excellence, accurate rating of risks, risk management, excellent implementation of business development strategies, providing tailor-made solutions/ appropriate insurance products to clients’, excellent service delivery including prompt payment of claims as well as highly skilled, experienced, motivated and passionate employees with positive attitudes, among others.
The insurance sector sells intangible products. It has been said that they sell promises, and the client can only confirm that the promise has been kept if admissible claim under the policy materializes during the currency of cover and it is paid. In respect of the foregoing, the element of people in the insurance sector is very critical. The question to ask at this juncture is how can the insurance sector leverage on strong organizational cultures to attain growth and profitability?
To attract and retain high caliber of talents, organizations need to build and sustain great organizational cultures. Creating high performance organization cultures does not just happen, it is intentional and continuous. Some of the elements of a high performance culture include effective leadership, empowered, motivated and engaged employees, focus on continuous learning and development of employees, encouraging feed-back and being flexible when it is called for.
A happy and engaged workforce is widely acknowledged to out- perform one where there is negativity and office politics thrive. The extent to which individual employees needs and expectations are compatible with the culture of an organization is an important determinant of motivation and job satisfaction.
The dimensions that influence the work environment and assist in attaining high performance include clarity, commitment, standards, responsibility, recognition and teamwork. Employees need to understand what is required of them. Commitment of employees should be encouraged by promoting a culture of transparency. Responsibility can be encouraged through involving employees, delegating to them and encouraging them to solve their own challenges. Recognition of employees motivates them to work harder. Teamwork is critical because different members of staff have different talents and together they create synergy and are able to solve many challenges. Team members must reach that point where they appreciate each other’s talent and contribution and more importantly, understand what each member needs to contribute in order for the organization objectives to be achieved; the big picture.
The organization climate is critical when it comes to evaluating the culture of the organization. Atrinson & Frechette of Forum Corporation maintain there is a direct correlation between organizational climate and financial results. The organization climate is the expression or perception of the individuals about their organizations as it represents their thoughts and expressions about the internal environment. It is the organization climate that gives an organization a unique or distinct identity.
Organizational climate provides an environment where an employee feels either satisfied or dissatisfied. An excellent and positive work environment motives employees and boosts their level of performance. In fact organizational climate is directly related to employee performance as it has a significant impact on the attitude of the employees. A health climate and positive attitude increase employee motivation which results to high performance. Successful leaders take pains to ignite a chain reaction that improves organization climate.
In conclusion, when a high performance culture is established, it becomes a value that employees within the organization practice effortlessly; after all it becomes the norm. External people can easily recognize a strong culture in an organization and
it makes business sense to be branded as such. The culture of an organization is normally one of the key considerations that people make when changing jobs over and above the monetary considerations and benefits. A company that hopes to perform highly must attract high fliers, pay them well and give them opportunity to grow while exploiting their full potential.
Retention strategies should be implemented in order to keep them in the organization among other considerations. The recruitment process must capture the most suitable employees’ for the various jobs right from the onset, no mistakes.
It is important to ensure that the right employees gain entry into the organization because when a company acquires employees who are not suitable a lot of time is wasted teaching them instead of focusing on the work at hand. That said, high fliers will assist the organization maintain a high performance culture. When a company performs well it is also in a position to pay its employees well, at least better than the competition in order to ensure that they remain in the company.
More than ever before it has become very important during this covid-19 pandemic to ensure that work-life balance is achieved at the work place. The well-being and welfare of employees is important in achieving the goals of organizations and therefore this important asset should be taken care of. In any case if employees are stressed and unwell, they may not be able to deliver on their core mandate.
The business development and customer strategy will have to be perfect because without customers organizations will not be in business. Therefore effective leadership, suitable Human resources, positive organization climate and suitable business model will propel the insurance sector to high performance. High performance organization cultures will accelerate growth and profitability in the insurance sector.
Agnes Macharia MBA, BBA, ACII, AIIK. REFERENCES
1. Laurie Mullins, Management & Organizational Behaviour (Pearson Educational Ltd,2013, 11th Edition)
2. Dr. Eunice Karegi, Organizational Behaviour (Aura Publishers, Nairobi, Kenya, 2013)
3. Paul Kasimu FIHRM,MaintainingaGreatOrganisational Culture During Changing Times (Article 2021) https://www.linked.com
5. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/ operations