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I think people want to work for organisations that listen and truly care about them as individuals.

Introduce yourself and tell us about your organisation  

I’m Lyn Nicholls, HR Director at Ageas, which is one of the largest general insurers in the UK.

We provide car, home and pet insurance to over four million customers and we do that through brokers and price comparison websites, as well as through our own brands.

Our purpose as an organisation is to understand people + simplify insurance.

Our customer-facing employees help customers in two key areas – firstly with buying and renewing their insurance and secondly helping them get back on track in the unfortunate event that they do need to make a claim.

We are proud to be listed as a Top Employer 2022 and work hard to create a great working environment where our people can thrive.

We employ around 2,600 people and have offices in Bournemouth, Gloucester, London, Manchester and Southampton. We’re proud to be an inclusive organisation and strive to create a workplace where our people feel valued so they can bring their true selves to work.

Employees have access to a wealth of benefits when they work with us, ranging from development opportunities such as training and mentoring, to financial rewards like pensions, bonuses and even discounts at high street shops and supermarkets. The average length of service for our people is an impressive 14 years.

What do you think defines an organisation as a top employer today?  

I think people want to work for organisations that listen and truly care about them as individuals.

It’s something which is important to us at Ageas and it’s why we regularly talk to our people about how they feel about a whole range of aspects of working with us.

Being open to doing things differently is also a mark of a top employer. Businesses or organisations which are able to take on constructive feedback and pivot with agility will always win the hearts of their people.

Take for example our approach to hybrid working. Initially we took a 60/40 model, but speaking to our people and monitoring the office use, we realised we could make it work better for everyone by being a little less prescriptive.

We refined our guidance and instead offered people the freedom to choose when is the best time for them to work from the office or at home. The feedback to this has been very positive and just goes to show the importance of an open mind for employers.

Tell us about a recent initiative that you have instigated within your organisation that you are most proud of?  

Sticking on the topic of hybrid working, I’m immensely proud of the way our teams have come together to adapt to new ways of working since the start of the pandemic.

As an insurer, you’re there for customers in their time of need so it was really important to us to be able to continue to support policyholders as we navigated this rapid change, particularly at the very start.

Our IT teams worked incredibly fast to ensure people could work from home when the initial lockdown came into effect. As a company with thousands of employees across the country, that’s no mean feat. And our facilities team have done a fantastic job evolving our physical workspace as we now start to mould into new normal.

We’ve invested significantly in our offices to enable these new ways of working and we’ll continue to invest in technology, environment and our people as this now becomes a wider cultural change and feeds into the overall employee experience at Ageas.

What is the next objective in your organisation's journey to keep improving the employee experience?  

We’re currently mapping out the employee journey and using the valuable feedback we received through the Top Employer process to identify the moments that matter and understand any areas where we can provide an even better experience for our people.

As part of that we’re already looking at the onboarding experience for our employees and I’m sure a lot of employers will similarly be rethinking their processes as we all enter ‘new normal’.

Wellbeing has always been a key area of focus for us and we’re looking to build on some of the projects that we’ve already rolled out to provide targeted wellbeing initiatives that meet our people’s needs and are fit for purpose in the new world of hybrid working.

Rewarding, retaining and nurturing our top talent also forms an important part of our employee journey so we’ll continue to evolve our various development programmes, as well as our other talent programmes, and ensure our people feel truly valued for what they bring to our business.

What is the biggest challenge facing your organisation today and how are you planning to overcome it?  

Our industry moves at an incredible pace and the success of every insurance business hinges on the core capabilities and skills of its technical experts. This presents insurers with a challenge; how do we ensure we can offer every one of these technical experts the opportunity to continually develop their capabilities and help increase career mobility across the business?

At Ageas, we are developing what we call our ‘technical engine room’, which is made up of our experts working in the areas of risk, claims, underwriting (including pricing), finance and actuarial. To do that we’ve built a new development programme called the ‘Technical Heroes Programme’ which

is designed to offer opportunities to broaden skills and career opportunities, giving these talented colleagues a straightforward path to develop themselves and explore new areas. Among the many elements that make up this programme are competency frameworks, events, mentoring and knowledge swaps.

Ensuring we take advantage of the opportunities that data offers us is also important, particularly as an insurance business which is based on data. We’re investing in our digital and data capabilities which includes data science, analytics and machine learning but, importantly, we’re also investing in the skills and capabilities required for these.

How will your organisation have to adapt to meet the changing future workplace?  

I think the future workplace for organisations of all types is one which understands the part it has to play in wider society.

I think increasingly we all expect more of the businesses we engage with when it comes to topics such as the environment, ethics and inclusion. It’s no different for people looking for the right employer.

Continuing our work to ensure we have an inclusive and sustainable workplace environment is high on our agenda.

The changing future workplace for us is also one which embraces the flexibility of hybrid working and we’ll continue to refine our approach as we have done over recent years.

Generally, most of our people are working around one day a week in the office at the moment and they use this for collaborative working and meetings. We still see the office as an important place to connect and collaborate with colleagues, to come together as a team and to challenge and motivate each other.


This interviewee was kindly introduced to us by ‘Top Employers Institute’ – the global authority on certifying excellence in employee conditions.’ Their organisation is certified as a Top Employer.

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