Fostering People Sustainability and a Learning Mindset at Zurich NA

The Next Practices Weekly call series has become a well-attended and wide-ranging discussion for HR leaders each Thursday at 11am ET / 8am PT. On this week's call, i4cp's Community Program Manager Bethany Vogel and i4cp Senior Research Analyst Tom Stone, facilitated a conversation with special guest Teri Hart, Chief Learning Officer, at Zurich North America. Here are some highlights from the call:

  • Zurich Insurance Group is over 150 years old and has been doing business in the US since 1912. They have about 56,000 employees worldwide, with about 9,000 in North America. Zurich NA goes to market through seven distinct business units plus a new risk management unit.
  • Hart described how Zurich NA partnered with the World Economic Forum to help forge The Good Work Framework, which focuses on the "S" in ESG: Fairness and Social Justice; Flexibility and Protection; Health and Wellbeing; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging; and Employability and Learning Culture.
  • A specific goal that Hart shared, that is aligned with this framework, is to achieve a 75% internal hire rate (excluding entry level positions). Doing so requires a focus on learning and development, and will help drive better DEI outcomes at higher levels of the organization.
  • In order to accomplish this and other goals, having a strong learning culture is critical. To create and maintain this, Hart and her team have focused on key enabling practices that embed both capability and the desire to learn. They refer to this as hardwiring the organization for learning, and there are three categories for their various initiatives: Committing to Learn, Learning from Each Other, and Motivating Learning.
  • For example, Zurich NA has a goal that every employee will have learning and development as part of their performance goals each year (counts for 10%). They also instituted a learning award (varying cash amounts), and have created a system of credentialed badges. They also have initiatives around coaching, mentoring, leveraging their ERGs for learning, and more.
  • This year the team has doubled down on embedding learning in their culture in three ways:
    • Access: Employees have time and opportunity to learn both on-the-job and through programs and transparency of opportunity.
    • Talent Practices: Learning is tied to recruitment, onboarding, career development, career transition, and performance.
    • Leadership and Mindset: Leaders set expectations to build skills, role model, and active engage teams and the organization in learning.
  • Hart said that at Zurich NA, sustainable careers means cultivating meaningful career development through illuminating career paths and development opportunities. They have created an integrated skills-centric system that supports career planning development and career trajectories while ensuring they have talent and skills to meet the demands of current work.
  • One element of this is a Career Coaching Pilot that has already involved 42 volunteers and seen great results, with significant increases in career-related questions on employee surveys.
  • About a year and half ago Hart published her first book, Hard Wired to Learn: Leveraging the Self-Sustaining Power of Lifelong Learning. It is available at Amazon.

Links to resources shared on the call: