BILL GATES READS a book a week.
Elon Musk has developed his own
system for learning about new topics.
Warren Buffet has them both beat — he
reads 500 pages of reports, newspapers and books each day. These innovators are at the top of their fields, with
decades of experience and success.
Yet they still prioritize lifelong learning.
That’s no coincidence. Research
conducted by KornFerry found that
learning agility — a willingness to grow
and learn with insatiable curiosity — is
the number one indicator of executive
success. And learning agility often finds
real-world value in the ability to adapt
to changing customer expectations
and emerging technologies, which is as
essential in the insurance business as
in any other industry.
Terry Katz, CPCU, an avid lifelong
learner and vice president of education,
training, quality assurance and claims
at HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.,
agrees that continuing education has a
definitive return on investment — but
adds that it has to happen every day.
“If we don’t continuously encourage
learning by doing things like bringing in subject matter experts to tell
employees about new policies, new
exposures or new ways to serve the
client, they’re not going to keep up to
date,” Katz says. “It’s so important. We
also provide leadership training for our
managers and upcoming leaders on
the latest theories about how to keep
people motivated, engaged and happy.”
Inspiring lifelong learning
Research shows ongoing education
benefits employees and organizations
alike. Nearly all employers say ongoing
education has a positive effect on em-
ployee job performance, according to by
EvoLLLution. Here are four strategies
to drive home the value of continuing
education at every organizational level:
1. Lead by example. Company
leaders must walk the talk. Little steps
like emailing employees an article on a
new claims investigation technique go
a long way in demonstrating a com-
mitment to growing your expertise. For
Katz, talking up the industry and the
benefits of learning comes naturally.
“When new hires come in, they see
how much I love it, and it’s contagious,”
Katz says. “I never stop learning. I
pass that on to my students and any-
one else who will listen, to be honest.”
2. Foster a culture of learning.
Sharing knowledge should be a compa-ny-wide effort. Employees are more likely to take ongoing education seriously if
they know it’s something their organization values. Some firms offer financial
assistance or bonuses when learning
milestones are reached.
But there are other ways too. Encourage claims pros to research an
emerging industry topic and share what
they learned over lunch, or use compa-ny-wide events to honor employees who
earn industry designations.
3. Encourage learning through
networking. Lifelong learning doesn’t
stop the minute after a webinar or
an exam ends. According to the Pew
Research Center, 65 percent of pro-
fessional learners say learning in the
past year expanded their professional
network. For claims pros, that’s key
access to new viewpoints and fresh
ideas to better serve clients and im-
prove business outcomes.
4. Differentiate between training and
ongoing education. There’s a big differ-
ence between job training and education
that provides greater industry expertise
and context. Too often, organizations pri-
oritize training and neglect development.
Development builds strong organiza-
tions for tomorrow. And while it can be
difficult to look beyond immediate needs,
creating succession plans and develop-
ment roadmaps pays dividends. This is
especially true in fostering growth and
happiness among young professionals.
“Young people entering the industry
want a career path,” Katz says. “They
want to learn. And they’re very eager to
earn industry designations. We have a
competitive learning atmosphere here.
We try to give them recognition as
well as incentives to stay current with
Regardless of the path you take,
make lifelong learning a mindset rather
than an objective. Every book read,
designation earned and conference at-
tended is in pursuit of an ongoing goal:
to stay knowledgeable and relevant in a
rapidly changing industry.
Martin J. Frappolli is Senior Director of
Knowledge Resources at The Institutes.
Want a Committed Workforce? Encourage
Lifelong Learning BY MARTIN J. FRAPPOLLI, CPCU, FIDM, AIC