Insuring the Future — Enabling Mature Workers to Get Ahead

Building on experience and showing a willingness to change, here’s how more experienced workers can get ahead in the insurance industry.

Today’s workplaces are increasingly being designed to attract the best talent and promote their well-being while staying ahead of new demands and technologies. According to an article in The Business Times, engagement and satisfaction in the workplace can have significant impact on a company’s bottom line. But even so, mature workers sometimes feel that they are being left behind.

A survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development on the value of mature workers in Singaporeshowed that mature employees are seen to bring a range of benefits to the workplace including better mentoring and leadership and a better knowledge of the business and an ability to problem-solve.

In an ever-changing landscape, both organisations and individuals need to change and adapt. In the same survey, 70 percent of respondents agreed that mature employees engage better with training if the content and delivery is adapted to their needs. Across the country, companies like Prudential are creating a future-ready mindset and embracing mature workers.

Embracing change is key for mature workers to thrive in today’s workplace. Sheela Parrakkal, Prudential’s Chief Human Resources Officer says that the company has embarked on a transformative journey to embrace and celebrate a culture of teamwork, collaboration, creativity and self-initiative. A strong champion of collaboration and breaking down hierarchical walls, even the CEO does not have his own desk. The idea behind this is to ensure that staff are encouraged to come out of their comfort zones to readily embrace the future of work and be more “future ready” themselves.

Mature Workers Add Value to the Workplace

Many people feel once they hit 40 that they may be discounted for promotion. But mature workers offer rich experience and insights from spending several decades in the workforce. Sheela adds, “Their life experiences together with their company and market knowledge means that they usually have a deep understanding of the business and customers.”

Helping Staff Progress in the Digital Age

Like many other companies in its industry, Prudential is also facing technological disruption. In order to mitigate this, the company needs to be continually innovative, agile and customer-centric. To help its employees acquire the skillsets needed to meet the future demands of the insurance industry, Prudential is partnering with SkillsFuture Singapore Agency to train staff in innovation, entrepreneurship, data analytics, social media and cyber security, among other areas.

To further drive its employees’ future-readiness, several other initiatives were also introduced, from an internal ideation programme “that encourages experimentation to an internal mobility programme that supports employee career development. These help reinforce Prudential’s commitment to developing their people.

But it’s not all down to employers – mature employees should adapt to stay relevant, and there is also value in younger employees mentoring their mature colleagues where technology is concerned, in a workplace culture where each generation should recognise their respective strengths and weaknesses.

Flexibility and Balance

In today’s market mature workers especially are looking for flexibility. As the so-called sandwich generation, they not only have to excel in the work place but need to juggle the needs of both parents and children. Like many other companies today, Prudential’s human resource policy supports a flexi-work environment including staggered hours, part-time work and telecommuting to help employees maintain that work-life balance.

Its internal mobility programme also encourages employees to take ownership of their careers. Sheela shares that in 2017, 10 percent of their workforce participated in this programme with mature talent — 40 years and older — forming a third of the employees who took on new roles.

Helping staff grow by giving back to society is also something the company considers. The company recently introduced a career switch programme that helps employees move to a full-time career in the social services sector while remaining on the payroll. Mature workers who form about a third of Prudential’s workforce are keen participants in these employee initiatives.

One example is the 52-year-old employee who has just switched to a new division after 27 years. “Her desire to learn and acquire new skills together with her in-depth knowledge of the organisation made her an ideal candidate,” shares Sheela. In her transition from the Operations Office to Property Services, this particular candidate was guided by the company on building two vital skills for her new role — team leadership and supervisory skills in contract management. She now leads a team which oversees the mail and reception operation of the entire company.

This knowledge makes more mature workers suitable for leadership ropes within the company and/or mentors to younger employees. At Prudential, the expertise of their senior talent is tapped to help mentor the next batch of leaders. This “mentorship culture” is also further reinforced through initiatives such as their internal management associate programme as well as access to industry groups where employees are encouraged to begin learning journeys with senior talent.

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