Fierce competition requires fresh perspectives: rethinking the world of work
Specializing in niche markets — from cybersecurity to aerospace and fine art — global insurance leader AXA XL is known for solving even the most complex risks. As AXA’s property and casualty (P&C) and specialty risk division, the company helps enterprises of every kind and size navigate the unexpected, offering traditional and innovative insurance solutions in over 200 countries and territories.
Yet as a company in the insurance industry, it faces image barriers when it comes to competing for top talent. The allure of tech and fintech companies makes attracting tech talent a challenge, and the industry’s homogenous image, although outdated, only reinforces misperceptions.
But the company, and businesses worldwide, face challenges that are broader and far more complex.
The transformation age is driving an epidemic of talent scarcity. As technology disrupts the workplace and an aging population nears retirement, skills gaps are rapidly growing. More than ever, AXA XL faces substantial challenges in acquiring, retaining and transferring knowledge. That’s why the company complements talent attraction with internal mobility, reskilling and upskilling to build the workforce agility it needs to succeed in an ever-evolving cultural, economic and geopolitical landscape.
So how does the company find the people it needs to meet new demands? How is it building a sustainable workforce? And what role does its meaningful employee experience play in attracting and retaining the best people?
Like many companies, AXA XL has expanded its talent pool beyond traditional industry boundaries. But the company’s strategy is far more transformative. It steers away from siloed thinking and puts a greater emphasis on skills. More specifically, it focuses on leveraging the potential and versatility of diverse talent and building a workplace where they can thrive.
With renewed strategies, the company’s holistic approach is about much more than attracting talent — it’s about rethinking its world of work.
building a sustainable, skills-based workforce
Transforming to a skills-based organization is central to the future of work, according to David Jones, global head of Talent & Employee Experience at AXA XL. That transformation begins with attracting people who have transferable skills or are embarking on second careers, regardless of their fields. A lack of insurance experience is no longer an obstacle for candidates — the focus is on leveraging skills so the best people can do their best work. Jones believes that merging people from diverse groups sparks innovation and creativity that helps the company meet changing digital and market demands.
Yet continuously hiring to meet new skill demands is unsustainable. That’s why AXA XL expands skills internally by using data insights to bridge skills gaps and create personalized learning programs. The company also intends to make data and AI critical competencies in every field. With skill-building, the company drives internal mobility and boosts retention while empowering employees to expand their potential and future-proof their careers.
“Skills-based talent strategies empower organizations with workforce agility and sustainability,” says Jones. “Focusing on skills can redefine how we work and how teams are organized; it has the potential to drive big change in workforce perspectives.”
creating a meaningful employee experience
To nurture its diverse workforce, AXA XL is deeply committed to cultivating a meaningful employee experience. Today, socially-responsible approaches are key drivers in decisions about where to work; pay alone is not sustainable. While building a purpose-driven organization is paramount, those efforts extend beyond defining and clarifying purpose — it’s essential to put those principles into action.
“Authenticity is critical,” says Jones. “You can’t pretend to be who you aren’t; it’s essential to align words with actions.” Any pretense or hypocrisy erodes trust and respect in the workplace and threatens corporate culture.
Doing what’s right for society and customers is at the core of AXA XL’s purpose-driven mission. This includes investing in environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, such as the energy transition space and net zero impact. Charitable giving programs also help employees support causes that mean the most to them. For instance, the company embraces the broader AXA’s heritage by joining the Global Day of Giving, when 130,000 employees give one full day to the communities they serve.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is also a cornerstone of the company’s values, and it has a staff dedicated to nurturing an inclusive culture. The company is committed to building a workplace of dignity and respect where individual differences are encouraged and valued. Closing the gender gap is a critical focus, and the company’s goal is to attract and retain more women.
Jones is passionate about the company’s goal to push boundaries and “up their game” with regard to diversity, ultimately reversing the insurance industry’s homogenous image, a stereotype that is no longer relevant.
To enhance collaboration, making the office a meaningful destination is another priority. The company believes that focusing on the physical, cultural and developmental advantages of the office will entice people to come in. This includes creating a workplace where leadership actively engages and interacts with employees while collaborative teams are formed. Currently, about 64% of employees go to the office about three days per week, although it’s not mandated.
Additionally, storytelling is boosting AXA XL’s talent strategies by inspiring people with authentic stories about real employees and their experiences. Candidates and employees alike can learn firsthand about the work people do, why they joined the company and how they’ve grown there. The company is also expanding its social media presence to connect with a broader audience.
shaping the future of work
AXA XL is transforming the workplace and setting the stage for a vibrant future. The company recognizes that by embracing a skills-based approach and building diverse teams, it is shaping a workforce that will take the company to new heights. At the same time, building a more meaningful, purpose-driven workplace creates a sense of community and fulfillment that enriches both talent experiences and corporate culture.
With renewed strategies, the company is breaking new ground by bringing a fresh perspective to the insurance industry, showing that it is a place where diverse innovators and problem-solvers can foster ingenuity and drive growth.