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Assurance Agency: Where Happy Employees Equals Happy Clients

Cornerstone Editors

What’s the secret to business success? Companies everywhere look for the answer to that question every day. For Assurance, one of the largest and most awarded independent insurance brokerages in the U.S., the answer was simple, "Happy employees equals happy clients." These words became a galvanizing mantra and spurred the company to land on multiple "best places to work" lists and a 98 percent client recommendation rate.

The insurance company proved their theory: happy employees and happy clients go hand-in-hand. Of course, the next question that follows is, "How do you create happy employees?"

The Building Blocks

Assurance started from a simple assumption: employees, similar to their clients, need support to be happy. As they dug deeper and spoke with employees about what they needed they found that in order for support to be successful in improving employee happiness it must do two things: 1) it must reach employees at an individual level and 2) it must enable them to learn and grow within the organization.

However, in 2014 company leaders realized there was a roadblock to providing the support employees needed to further an employee-centric culture; their existing performance management process did not allow them to individualize learning and development for employees.

"Employees felt our performance process was repetitive and it wasn’t focused on their individual goals relating to development and performance," said Katie Dykstra, human resources manager at Assurance.

The building blocks of "happy employees equals happy clients" were there, but outdated tools were standing in the way of truly building and growing that culture.

It was clear to company leaders that they needed a replacement. And there was one major requirement for finding the right solution—it had to enhance their culture, instead of replacing it.

However, enhancing company culture was not the only hurdle Assurance faced.

The Challenges

Compliance and learning were the main priorities for Assurance and top of mind when looking for a new tool. "We needed to be able to offer training across geographies, which is complex unless you have instructors at each of those locations," said Dan Passananti, SVP of business process and learning at Assurance. "We didn’t have an learning management system (LMS). There was no easy way to report on compliance. And our training content didn’t have a home—it didn’t live anywhere."

Small and medium businesses (SMB) like Assurance often face a common challenge: small HR teams. The terms "team of one" or "lean team" are all too familiar with HR leaders in the SMB market. Assurance had to find a way to help their small, but mighty, team enhance company culture, create more efficient compliance training, and handle the challenges of rapid growth. And with four additional offices opening in the next five years, scalability of a talent management solution was an absolute must.

It was a tall order for anyone to fill.

A Solution to Fill a Tall Order

After a thorough search, Assurance decided on Cornerstone for learning, performance, and recruiting. The flexibility of the platform allowed the company to tailor the software to fit their company and enhance, not replace their culture.

"With Cornerstone, you can make your talent solution anything you want it to be. The sky’s the limit," said Dykstra.

Michele McDermott, senior vice president of human resources at Assurance added, "It was an investment which allowed us to provide every person at Assurance an experience that’s as unique as them.

The LMS and content library also helped employees take control of their own learning and development. "People can easily digest content on demand in one place and in a very self-directed way." And compliance training was centralized in one hub location and trackable.

"As we expand our business and add new members to our team, we know that Cornerstone can grow with us, and help us maintain and continue to refine this amazing employee culture we’ve built," said McDermott.

To learn more about how Assurance is creating happy employees in a rapid growth environment, read our case study.

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