Working and learning from home

These are strange times to be living and working in.

By 2017, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics, more than five million of us were spending some or all of our time working from home. That figure seems certain to have increased since then. But now in 2020 – at least temporarily – COVID-19 must have pushed those numbers massively higher.

It’s not unlikely you’re reading this from home. Right now, more and more of us are doing more and more of everything we do from home. It seems highly unlikely that some of this enforced spike in remote working won’t translate into something more permanent once we emerge from the dislocation of coronavirus. Employers who might previously have doubted home working could work, may soon have changed their minds.

As with so much of contemporary life, technology is the enabler. With their computer or laptop at home connected to the office server via high speed broadband – and with video-conferencing rapidly supplanting face-to-face for all but the most critical of meetings – there’s not much office workers could do at work they cannot now achieve at home.

Those worried that a surge in home working might overstretch our the UK’s broadband networks will have been reassured to see them coping fairly well even in these unprecedented times. According to a recent statement by one broadband provider, BT, the network is at greater risk from Netflix than from home-based working.  COVID-19 will change minds in many ways. This could well be one of them.

For training services providers, the need for so-called social distancing clearly imposes some limitations. Working remotely is no great stretch for most of us white-collar workers in the training world. Most of the time, at least. Clearly, training face to face is hard to beat for communicating certain types of knowledge or skill. But, in reality, we’re already a fair way down the road to replicating its benefits across a range on online delivery channels.

Convenience and cost-effectiveness have long been drivers for uptake of our online offerings. But now that we’re all meant to be avoiding one another in person, there’s an added incentive to learn online. It’s hard to imagine how much worse an impact the current crisis would have had a couple of decades back when technology meant word processors, basic mobile phones, and faxes. Physical location makes much less difference now.

Technology offers the business world a lifeline from a position of peril. The flexibility technology brings gives us all a better chance to trade through the turmoil. Which is just as well. Because, as individuals and as businesses, we’ll still need all the skills we needed before – and more – to pick up where we left off and make up the ground that’s been lost. Learning online enables your staff to stay up to date and fully competent for the roles they occupy.

Regulatory training is a case in point. For our customers in the world of insurance, the Financial Conduct Authority has been at pains to point out that no slack will be cut just because we’re going through ‘interesting times’. Disruption’s no excuse for failing to treat customers fairly or for flouting any of the myriad rules put in place to prevent malpractice and mismanagement.

One crucial thing that real live expert trainers do, that pre-prepared online resources don’t do all by themselves, is staying up to date with the latest developments in their specialist areas. That’s why, in an era where more and more customers want to learn online, it’s so essential that our authors constantly review and update all our online resources. It’s a lot of work, but it has to be done – even if, for now, it might get done at the proverbial kitchen table.

COVID-19 has focused a lot of minds and how to do more remotely with the technology now available. That will bring benefits – not just today, but for the future. Let’s hope we’ll soon get back to shaking hands and making direct eye contact without mentally measuring out two metres – but for now, there’s plenty we can do to stay in shape for the business world to come without even getting up from our desks.

This article originally appeared in T-C News

Working and learning from home

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Are your staff putting in the CPD hours they need under IDD?

One of the requirements of IDD is that all your staff involved in the distribution of insurance products must complete 15 hours of CPD per year and to demonstrate the minimum levels of competency required for them to undertake their roles.

Does your firm have the right training and assessment tools in place to meet this obligation?  If not, then Searchlight has a solution for you.

IDD’s scope is broad and complex. Searchlight offers a cost-effective solution that makes light work of staying compliant.

  • Unique programme to ensure your staff meet the required 15 hours CPD target
  • Reporting functionality for evidencing compliance and monitoring staff progress
  • Ability to load your own learning to the system (e.g. on product knowledge)
  • Glossary of over 700 insurance terms to build knowledge and understanding
  • Ability to licence content only, if preferered, for loading on to your own LMS

Contact Searchlight on 01372 361177, or email training@ssluk.net for more information.

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SMEs need cyber cover too

With more and more businesses of all types and sizes experiencing online attacks, can we safely assume that any business is too small for cyber cover?

  • 130,000 small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK suffered some form of cyber-crime in 2018*
  • Almost two-thirds of UK businesses with between 10 and 49 members of staff were targeted*
  • These attacks cost the affected businesses an average £65,000.*

If you’re not recommending some form of cyber insurance to your business clients, you could be leaving them unprotected. Not only could that be construed as irresponsible, it’s also a wasted opportunity for you to sell additional cover.

An underdeveloped market

Why don’t more SMEs take out cyber insurance? Many still assume cyber cover is only applicable to larger businesses. They don’t appreciate the benefits – or they see it as a bit of a novelty – something they’ve managed quite happily without up to now. All of which means selling cyber cover to SMEs can feel a bit challenging. But it needn’t…

Understanding the benefits

Having having the right information and arguments at your fingertips makes cyber cover much easier to sell. Searchlight offers a dedicated one-day course that equips your staff to do exactly that.  Once your clients properly appreciate the need for cyber cover – and the surprisingly broad benefits it offers – it’s a cover they’ll want to have.

What you’ll learn from our workshop

Our Introduction to Cyber Risks Insurance course will:

  • Take you through the risks
  • Help you identify which types of customer could benefit from cyber insurance
  • Explore the cover provided by both conventional insurance policies and specialist cyber risk policies
  • Outline the key considerations in terms of risk, underwriting, rating and claims.

The course is designed to equip you with all the information you need to make a sound business case to your clients by articulating the risks  their business faces and advising what type and level of cover would best protect them.

Cyber-crime isn’t going to go away. The trend is for more, more widespread, and more sophisticated attacks. Insurance that helps protect your clients against these impacts adds real value to their businesses.

Where and when?

We run Introduction to Cyber Risks Insurance courses  in London, Ipswich and Birmingham. Prices per delegate start at just £160 + VAT. That’s a small investment for a big potential return for your clients and your business.

Call us on 01372 361177 and we’ll be happy to tell you more. Alternatively click here for further details on our Introduction to Cyber Risks Insurance courses – or to book delegate places online.

*Source: survey conducted by internet service provider Beaming and market research group Opinium.

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What makes a great leader?

Vision and Communication

These two truly do go hand in hand. Your team must fully understand your vision and goals for the business. It may be obvious to you what needs to happen, but is everyone around you fully on board? A clearly defined vision comes first, but then it’s down to your skills in communicating that vision. Good communication is definitely something you can work on, if it doesn’t come naturally. The better your communication skills become, the quicker new and existing employees will ‘get it’ and begin to contribute fully as members of your team. Read more here.

Honesty and integrity

Set a consistent and unambiguous example of decent ethical behaviour. Honesty really is the best policy. If you behave like the kind of person who blurs the lines and cuts the odd corner, don’t be surprised when your staff do. The people around you will live up to a good example and down to a poor one. A key part of this is having the ability to take ownership and accept responsibility for the rough along with the smooth. Face up to issues promptly, and work with your team to implement solutions. And when things go right, be quick to share the credit with everyone who’s played a part. For more on the role of honesty in leadership click here.

Ability to delegate

Trusting your team is a sign of strength, not weakness. Don’t stretch yourself too thin. An obsessive attention to detail is all well and good, but not if it puts a brake on productivity. If you can’t learn to recognise the strengths and weaknesses of those around you and delegate accordingly, you’re truly not cut out for leadership. Delegate as much as you can to free yourself for higher level tasks, but always keep track of progress with delegated tasks. This will allow you to fine tune things before they start going wrong, and save you from demoralising staff with the dreaded “I’ll just have to do it myself” approach. For more on effective delegation, click here.

Sense of humour

A good sense of humour and a light touch can help keep morale high through challenging times. There are pitfall here, however, as anyone who’s ever watched The Office will quickly appreciate. Not everyone is blessed with the ability to use humour effectively and appropriately in the workplace. If you haven’t got it, faking it is a great way to lose the respect of those around you. Knowing the difference between a polite laugh or smile and a sincere and unforced one is crucial (see emotional intelligence below). For seven good reasons why leaders need a sense of humour click here.

Self confidence

Stay calm, keep the faith, and be tenacious in the pursuit of your goals. Self belief is fundamental to perseverance, an essential leadership quality in itself. Nothing is so off-putting to customers and employees as diffidence, uncertainty and hesitation. But self-confidence doesn’t mean blindly following your first instincts when evidence mounts up to suggest that your approach isn’t working. Flexibility is a strength. Deep seated self confidence gives you the resilience to accept the need to adapt your approach and move on, without feeling diminished. The truly self-assured are not afraid to show humility as and when the occasion arises. To learn more about why self-confidence matters to leaders and how to develop it, click here.

Decisiveness

The ability to take in the essentials of any situation and make the right decision quickly is as crucial a quality in business leaders as it is for military commanders. This is a harder skill than most to learn, but vital none the less. More businesses fail through dithering and inaction than through making the odd false move along the way. Successful leadership requires the ability to weigh up to odds and take action decisively. How good is your decision making? Find out here.

Commitment

As a leader, it’s important to work hard, and be seen to work hard. When you promise something, you should always make sure you deliver it. Showing real commitment is vital to earning the respect of employees and colleagues. Be consistent and dependable, and your staff will respond positively. Demonstrating a commitment to excellence will encourage your staff to do the same. Showing you are committed to those who work with you, will generate a reciprocal commitment from them. Read more about being a committed leader here.

Emotional intelligence

Psychologist Daniel Goleman first popularised the term Emotional intelligence, which broadly entails skills like empathy, self-awareness and an ability to see things from a range of perspectives. Having a deeper insight into what makes those around you tick can massively enhance your ability to get the best from them. Emotional intelligence may be harder to define succinctly than some other leadership qualities, but there is a growing awareness that it underlies many of the others listed here, in particular the ability to make good decisions quickly and to delegate effectively. Click here to find out more.

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Making your LMS work harder for you

Many, if not most, insurance firms today are linked up to some kind of insurance e-learning platform. The problem is that few are making truly effective use of them.

There are two main reasons why many firms are not getting value for money from their online training investments. Part of the problem is a widespread failure to plan, manage and monitor employees’ use of an e-learning system once it is in place. There is not much point is sitting your staff down in front of an e-learning module if the material it contains is not relevant to their specific training and development needs or to their daily working lives.

The better insurance-specific systems include hundreds of modules on virtually every aspect of technical insurance, regulation and IT, management and marketing skills. That’s great as far as it goes. But it’s almost inevitable that generic learning materials will sometimes lack direct relevance for users in your firm.

The insurance firms who really get value from e-learning, however, are those who commission professional third parties to produce online training material that’s specific to their business, to their products and procedures, to their customer base, their business partners and their company policy.

Bringing in professional authors to create e-learning materials around the key information your employees need to absorb both codifies and disseminates the knowledge that empowers people across the business. A little extra planning and investment can make a world of difference.

For further information take a look here.

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Pride and Prejudice with Insurance (abridged)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in want of a comprehensive personal insurance solution can never be truly at ease in the possession of his estates.

No matter a man’s views on any other aspect of disposition of his financial affairs, this truth, at least, is utterly fixed in the minds of all prudent people.

“My Dear Mr. Bennet,” said the wife of the gentleman so addressed one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park was afflicted this Thursday last with a most egregious conflagration that exposed, not only a good section of its charred roof timbers, but also a most regrettable degree of underinsurance?”

Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.

“Well, it was, and it did,” returned she, “for Mrs. Long has just been here, and has told me all about it.”

Mr. Bennet made no answer.

“Do you not wish to know the extent of the underinsurance at Netherfield?” cried his wife impatiently.

“Clearly you want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”

This was invitation enough.

“Why, My Dear, Mrs. Long tells me that an adjuster called yesterday morning and is of the opinion that the buildings insurance for Netherfield had not been updated to include construction works associated with the extension of the west wing, and moreover that no allowance had been made for the orangery that Mr. Morris lately erected. Nor indeed,” added she with emphasis, “any account taken in the sum insured of any professional fees or sourcing of specialist construction materials associated with rebuilding works.”

“Indeed,” rejoined her husband, ”and how does this affect Mr. Morris?”

“Mrs Long believes,” his wife replied, “that the insurance company intend applying the principle of average, and that poor Mr. Morris will receive a sum in recompense considerably smaller than that required to effect the necessary reconstructions.”

“All most unfortunate,” returned the husband. “Although I dare say it’s no particular business of ours, nor indeed of Mrs. Long’s.”

“My Dear Mr. Bennet,” replied his wife considerably vexed, “how can you be so
complacent! Surely we must contact Mr. Thurrup of Moreton Stopes Insurance Brokers immediately to review our present cover arrangements.”

“If you say so, My Dear,” replied the other. “I suppose perhaps we should. I shall look to it directly.”

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Getting a handle on competence

It’s increasingly important these days to be able to measure and record the competence of your staff. Not just because the regulator demands it – but also for the benefit of your business and the people you employ.

You’ll often hear the argument that you can’t manage something if you can’t measure it. But that thought isn’t much help to managers who are often asked to manage things that aren’t easy to measure.

The good news is that competence can indeed be measured meaningfully – if not necessarily calibrated to the nth degree. It’s still possible to get a pretty decent handle on employee competence however ellusive it may at first appear.

Searchlight’s learning resources on the topic of measuring and recording competence can help managers, team leaders, coaches, and learning specialists acquire the knowledge and skills they need to make effective use of competency assessments.

This is particularly useful for managers who are creating or reviewing their own competency framework, using case study examples to illustrate, stage by stage, the process of a competency assessment and subsequent review meetings.

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