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22 Aug 2017

QBE Takes a Holistic View of Employee Experience to Win the War for Talent

QBE Insurance is in an industry facing massive disruption. The increase of innovative new entrants to the market and the rapid rise of comparison websites means the war for talent is more real than ever. As a result, QBE has had to re-evaluate their HR strategy, with a key pillar being their employee experience.

In this excerpt from HR Innovation & Tech Fest 2016, Mel Parks from QBE reveals how they have taken a holistic view of employee experience in order to win the war for talent.


Employee experience, what is it? I think someone earlier in one of the earlier sessions said, “Define employee experience for your organisation,” and we started to do that, and I talked before about it’s not about technology. For me it’s really holistic, it’s about the environment, the purpose, our culture, our values, the marketplace and our customers. That is the holistic environment within which employee experience needs to be considered. The work, what is it that needs to get done? For us, how we design work needs to be commensurate with the customer experience and what it is that we’re doing. This traditionally has been full-time, in the office, serving a customer need at the time and place that QBE desires; fundamentally different to what we need in the future.

We’re talking about skills now, there’s a lot of discussion about hot, cold, warm bodies. I don’t know how many of you heard that before: hot body, me, I’m an employee; warm body, I come and go, I engage with the organisation maybe through a third party maybe for a short period of time; and the cold body is of course automation, AI, robots. We are starting to think about employee experience in the construct of those three things, but also the design of work. If you think about designing work in the future, we’re going to have people managing robots, robots sometimes influencing people. We are starting to understand what that means from an experience design perspective but also work design.

Our leaders are key to our employee experience, they’re the ones on the face-to-face, day-to-day… The way they engage with people and they inspire our people, it’s fundamental to giving them an inspiring sense of purpose. They need to role model connectivity and customer-centricity; again, fundamental to that employee experience. We in HR can design the best app, the best tech; the minute that someone comes in and has a conversation with their leader undermine that entire experience of work, and I would encourage everybody to think about that experience of work is much broader than tech.

We’re talking a lot about employee experience as it relates to bringing in what I call human imports. Insurance hires people who want to work in insurance, they want to work in underwriting, actually we need data scientists, we need customer experience design folks, we need people who have fundamentally different skills, and bringing those skills and the ethos of innovation and design thinking into an organisation with a 130-year history is a big challenge, and we’re starting to think about what it means. Because those people want to work in a marketplace environment, they want to work in a collaborative workspace, they probably don’t necessarily always want to go into the workspace, they’re going to be happy connecting across borders and communicating and sharing, and that is going to feel disruptive for people who have had a vertical career in a traditional industry. So we’re thinking about how we embed and integrate those sorts of folks into our organisation.

And finally, and in that order, we’re thinking about the enablers, the tools and the technology people need to do their job. At the beginning I wasn’t one of the people who put up my hand when I said my personal tech is fundamentally ahead of my work tech, because actually I don’t see a difference between my personal and my work tech anymore. I can work on my personal devices at home, in the office, at the back of the conference room today, like many of you, sitting there, integrating and doing some elements of my work via cloud apps on my personal tech at any point in time. I think how we do that and how we’re designing that is really, really important for our people.

Is This the Employee Experience of Tomorrow?

Watch this clip to see how QBE envision the employee experience of tomorrow, a fascinating insight into what the future of recruitment might look like.

About the Speaker

Mel Parks HR Tech Fest 2016

Mel Parks is Global Chief of People Operations, QBE Insurance Group Limited. Her expertise is in delivering large scale, complex transformation with a focus on customer-centricity. She spent nine years at ANZ, latterly as Global Head of Business Management, where she led HR transformation and delivered a number of major programs to enhance the HR service delivery model, including the global roll out of several enabling technologies.

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