Employee turnover rate has always been high in insurance, prompting companies to look for ways to attract and retain the best talent by designing fast-paced career development plans for their staff. With 1,000 corporate staff and 4,000 financial consultants in Hong Kong, AXA China Region Insurance Company has drawn up programmes to foster personal and professional development, and prepare their employees for higher positions.
'Career development is one of the most important and universal demands of employees,' says Sabrina Yuan, chief human resources (HR) officer at AXA China. 'And we are good at listening to our employees.'
Corporate staff who have demonstrated high potential in the first couple of years after joining the company are offered an accelerated development plan, for instance.
'We will assess their strengths and areas of improvement, and design for them tailored-made development plan - including trainings and mentoring sessions,' says Yuan. 'The aim is to get them into senior positions in a relative shorter period.
'Our business is expanding and our recruitment plan will support our business plan,' Yuan adds.
Internship programmes are viewed as a talent-spotting opportunity for the brightest and talented employees, especially for sophisticated work. 'I have noticed that for such expertise roles as actuarial, market demand is significantly higher than supply,' says Yuan. 'We have tried to build good relationship with universities and started internship programmes early enough to lock the top students.'
For financial consultants, the AXA Associates programme is aimed at fresh graduates with higher education qualifications. The one-year scheme includes training and mentoring, and is also designed to accelerate the career growth of new recruits.
According to Yuan, who has more than 14 years of experience in HR management, one of the things that is good about AXA is that training and development are not entirely the responsibility of the HR department.
Line managers, for example, can coach and support other employees, says Yuan, adding that these 'people managers' are key to implementing the desired corporate culture.
AXA has defined three core characteristics for its staff in relation to their clients - attentive, reliable and available. 'Products can be copied, but culture is unique for a company,' says Yuan.