Is Your Glass Half-full Or Half-empty? World Optimist Day!

World Optimist Day

Optimist Day is a global annual celebration falling on the first Thursday of February. The day’s key theme is focussed on building and sustaining a positive future!

The World Health Organisation says: “Work is good for mental health but a negative working environment can lead to physical and mental health problems”. Furthermore, depression and anxiety have a significant economic impact; the estimated cost to the global economy is +USD 1 trillion per year in lost productivity.

But what is an optimist?

An optimist is someone who has positive views about their place in life and the future. Ultimately, an optimist is more likely to think good things will happen and can see the positive side of many situations, but there are wider benefits too! It is simply a state of mind, about creating new ways of thinking, acting and behaving, but also how we work with and respond to one another.

With the geopolitical and global economic backdrop currently being faced by us all, we have never experienced this level of permanent uncertainty before! We are undergoing times of permanent change. In times of uncertainty and change, being an optimist, all the time is hard. We’re not perfect and have to work on it unless of course you’re lucky enough to be a natural-born optimist.
 
It helps people deal better with the negative experiences, and grow, since they have perceived setbacks as opportunities for growth, as well as protecting against depression — even for people who are at risk for it. An optimistic outlook makes people more resistant to stress!

Optimism and business culture

An optimist is more than someone who just believes things will work out, as they are also people who work hard to build a positive future. Similarly, optimism also makes people have a better disposition. Unlike their cynical counterparts, they offer hope and positivity to the people, which then also helps them forge good social relationships. As humans are social animals, therefore, having better relationships is good for mental health as well.
 
Business culture is a key part of the employee value proposition and, as businesses continue in the “war for talent”, a core recruitment and retention tool! If you have an optimistic team or employee(s), optimism is what allows for sustainable and prolonged growth, and positive workplace culture. It drives successful outcomes for both individual and business performance.

Whereas pessimism will slowly bring people down, create strains on relationships and could lead to a negative and toxic workplace culture – one that contains dysfunctional behaviour, poor communication, and even low morale. This naturally impacts individual mental health and leads to poor Wellbeing outcomes.
 
Poor mental health and conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress, which can lead to suicidal thoughts and suicide, are a growing problem across the globe. The wider impact to family, friends and colleagues cannot be measured.

The impact on your wellbeing

Helen Keller is worth remembering – keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. Maintaining a positive, optimistic attitude to life is the best way to avoid being overtaken by negative, pessimistic thoughts. Optimism has such a significant impact on your mental and physical Wellbeing. Research shows an optimistic outlook carries (certain) advantages, such as better health, greater achievement, less stress, and greater longevity.
 
For me, it is clear – in the current state of the global and domestic economies, Wellbeing and optimism play integral roles in the resilience of our workforce.
 
I definitely take the glass-half-full approach, but when the glass-half-empty feeling creeps in, it provides a chance to stop, think and, importantly, reassess the situation. As an optimist, I focus more on what I have, and what more can be done (with half a glass of water) than seeing that half the glass is empty and will eventually have nothing left in it!
 
Let’s take a moment, every day – not just on February 2 – to think about how we can adjust our state of mind. That half-full glass has lots left in it!

Adam Riley, Cert PFS 

Group Practice Leader Health & Benefits

T +44 (0) 7507 788 144

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GrECo Health & Benefits bolsters its senior team

Preslava Gencheva joins GrECo

Preslava Gencheva joins Adam Riley to further build the Health & Benefits business across the Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe (CESEE) region.

With its continued success, GrECo has appointed Preslava Gencheva as Deputy Group Practice Leader, Health & Benefits, in a newly created group leadership role. This role further reinforces Adam’s Health & Benefits strategy to become the leading risk management adviser and employer of choice throughout the CESEE region. Closely working with Adam, Preslava will support him in building, developing and the day-to-day running of GrECo’s specialist Health & Benefits business across its 17 CESEE countries.
 
Preslava joins from Karoll Financial Group where, for 14 years, she held several roles, more latterly Commercial Director. In a client-facing role, she successfully developed sales and marketing strategies, efficiencies for sales and operational processes, and managed sales across their 70 offices and 200 colleagues.

Adam Riley, GrECo Specialty, Health & Benefits commented: “We warmly welcome Preslava to GrECo and are delighted she has joined us at this very important juncture in our growth. Preslava is highly regarded and well-respected in our profession, bringing significant experience, insights, and a fresh outlook to GrECo Health & Benefits. We continue to attract high-calibre individuals and top talent, and the appointment of Preslava truly reflects how, as an independent family-run risk specialist business. GrECo is renowned for its people, reliability, stability, and independence.
 
She will play a key part in our growth strategy as the leading Health & Benefits consultancy across CESEE, which further enhances our value proposition for clients, partners, and carriers. I am looking forward to working with Preslava to continue the success of our Health & Benefits business across the CESEE region, and personally wish her every success in this new group leadership role.
 
So, Preslava, welcome to GrECo! Why did you decide to join our company?
When Adam and I started talking, I already knew of GrECo, and seen the business become the leading specialist insurance broker & consultant across the CESEE region. I had also heard in the market about the refreshing new strategy Adam had created since he joined in July last year, as well as the new direction and journey the GrECo Health & Benefits business is headed and knew this was the natural next step in my career!
 
The creation of this new role to help Adam run, build, and develop GrECo´s growing Health & Benefits business is so important as it reflects the demands of clients and employers across countries in which they operate.
 
What do you feel employers are looking for from a H&B partner?
Employers are looking for a specialist consultancy who understands their business, their employee requirements and above all else is seen as their true partner to provide sustainable long-term H&B solutions. Having talked with many HR and Benefit professionals, it is clear Health & Benefits is no longer just about insurance solutions, it is now about developing & providing appropriate risk management solutions for employers, which are both relevant and sustainable for their multinational and multigenerational workforce, now and able to evolve in the future.
 
Employers are expecting much more from their broker – more sophistication, wider knowledge, and are looking for their Health & Benefits adviser to provide appropriate and tailored solutions and delivering true thought-leadership. This is where GrECo Health & Benefits really adds tremendous value!
 
Tell us about the Preslava, outside of work.
I am married, with one son. Healthy living has become more and more important and plays a key part in my family life. For me this is to care for my physical and mental state and, as a family, we practice this through taking part in active sports including snowboarding, paddling, mountain tracking and tennis, and taking care of my mind by reading good books and meditation!

Thanks, Preslava. A final word from you?
Joining GrECo in their next phase of strategic growth is hugely exciting and provides an amazing opportunity to help build and run their Health & Benefits business. I look forward to working with Adam and being part of his team and its future strategy to become the leading Health & Benefits risk management adviser and employer of choice across the CESEE region, further enhancing the value proposition for clients, partners, and carriers!

Adam Riley, Cert PFS 

Group Practice Leader Health & Benefits

T +44 (0) 7507 788 144

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The New Focus on Talent

focus on talents

Digital transformation, demographic change, increasing complexity and a global virus are leading to a continuous process of change. For those responsible for Human Resources, this situation brings new opportunities and challenges.

The need for highly qualified employees is growing. Aging teams in digitized work environments are increasingly creating skills gaps. Recruiters are no longer required to select ideal candidates for filling critical positions from a flood of applications. Those times are in the past. The tide has turned, the recruitment processes are more about arousing the applicants’ interest in the company with the help of employer branding activities.

Talent Identification and Management

The magic word is talent. But how do companies succeed in attracting talent? 

Let’s start with the meaning of the word. The term talent can be represented in different ways. What is undisputed is certainly the expectation of talented people to make a valuable contribution to the company’s success. Talents are mostly associated with people outside the company. 

But what about those talents who are already part of the organization and whose potential is (still) undiscovered?
In the “War for Talent”, HR strategies are based on three key factors:

  • Recruitment
  • Education and Development
  • Retention

The relation between looking after current employees and attracting new talent shows what makes a company the workplace of choice, which key factors are necessary for this attractiveness, and how companies differ from the competition.

Learning and Development

Professional training and individual development, flexible career paths and a broader range of tasks are of great importance to the new generation of employees. Attractive employers, therefore, offer a learning and development strategy that integrates learning into the workplace and draws individual learning and development paths.

We believe that GrECo is a great place for great people, where every employee has the chance to learn and work independently and bring in ideas. We developed a sophisticated internal learning and development programme, because we know that lifelong learning is a major factor for new generation of employees.

Learn more on our Careers page.

Employer Branding and New Work Culture

More and more applicants are screening potential employers for their commitment to climate protection, diversity and inclusion, ethical decision-making, and sustainable finance. Generations X, Y and Z in particular, are looking for ways to contribute to change with their work and are increasingly opting for companies that live their Environmental Social Governance (ESG) responsibility and present it transparently.

A realignment of the corporate DNA is therefore based on social responsibility and the creation of sustainable and secure jobs. This requires a work culture that puts people first, even in the time of digital transformation.
The workplace of future needs basic conditions that create space for new things, promote a culture of mistakes and feedback and stimulate social exchange to enable innovation and creativity. Companies need to keep that promise they make in job interviews, on social media and in publications, and remain authentic in their stories.

Gabriele Andratschke

Head of Group Human Resources

T +43 664 962 39 18

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Building the GrECo Health & Benefits Business: A Catch-up With Adam Riley

In July of this year, Adam was recruited in a newly created executive leadership role, to run, build and develop GrECo’s specialist Health & Benefits business across its 17 countries.

It is widely recognised that GrECo has seen continued success across its specialist businesses and has built its reputation across the Central, Eastern and Southern European (CESEE) region by providing market-leading risk and insurance solutions to clients. As part of its next phase of strategic growth, GrECo laid down a clear marker this year: it is going to invest in building its Health & Benefits business, which reflects the demands of clients and employers across its markets.

As a business which attracts high-calibre individuals and top talent, it is renowned for its people, reliability, stability, and independence.

If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together” – an African Proverb, Adam Riley’s favourite phrase to use with his team. In July of this year, Adam was recruited in a newly created executive leadership role, to run, build and develop GrECo’s specialist Health & Benefits business across its 17 countries. Adam’s appointment has enabled GrECo to relaunch its Health & Benefits offering across the CESEE region, and of course the wider international markets. 

We caught up with him to find out about his 2030 vision for GrECo´s Health & Benefits business.

Hi Adam, how have the last four-months been for you and what have you been focusing on since starting at GrECo?
The past four months have been both refreshing and rewarding. Meeting with a huge number of people from across our business, I have witnessed first-hand the close-knit and people culture for which GrECo is known. The depth of capabilities from across the group is inspiring as is the integrity and spirit of our dedicated teams.

The most important focus for me has been to refresh, restructure, and relaunch our group-wide Health & Benefits strategy and direction for the business, giving it a fresh outlook to reflect the next phase of our strategic growth! 

So, what would you say employers are looking for when employing a risk and insurance management provider?
The market is changing, employers are demanding more sophisticated solutions and much more from their specialist advisers. 

Employers are looking to work with a specialist consultancy that understands their business, and employee requirements and, above all else, is seen as their true partner to provide sustainable long-term Health & Benefits solutions.

You’ve been working on a newly developed Health & Benefits strategy. Can you give us a snapshot of what the future holds for GrECo as a result?
At GrECo Group, we don’t just look at the “now”, we also look at how our business will evolve over the next few years. Our new Health & Benefits strategy focuses on a clearly defined roadmap outlining our “2030 vision” for the business.
 
You will see that we have changed our name from “employee benefits”, to Health & Benefits. This better reflects the new direction in which we are headed. Coupled with the risk management services and solutions we will be offering our clients, and the future of our business, this reflects and incorporates a fresh approach.
 
Put simply, we will become the leading Health & Benefits risk management adviser and employer of choice across the CESEE region, further enhancing the value proposition for clients, partners, and carriers!
 
Some might say that’s a bold statement but looking at results in the last few months alone, and your projects for the next 12 months, it is clear the new Health & Benefits business at GrECo, under your direction, is shaping up to do just that!  What’s GrECo’s current position in Health & Benefits, and how do you see it developing by 2030?
By revenue and premium, the GrECo Health & Benefits business is already a top-five broker in 10 of its 17 countries, with the remaining seven countries not far behind. Part of the “2030 Health & Benefits vision” is to double our revenue through both organic growth and selective M&A activity. 


Building a more robust and sustainable proposition, incorporating a mix of traditional insurance-led solutions with Wellbeing, data insights, and online and digital offerings is core to the future of the GrECo Health & Benefits business.

On the topic of M&A, what’s currently happening in the CESEE market? 
The markets in our region are changing, we are seeing more consolidation of Health & Benefits businesses than ever before. With this, opportunities for the GrECo Health & Benefits business are emerging – as a group, we are very selective on M&A activity: culture, people and synergy are core to what we look for when looking at potential acquisitions.

Adam, you’re also working on integrating the MAI CEE Health & Benefits business into the GrECo structure. How’s the acquisition been received? 

Very well! The acquisition of MAI CEE was seen by the market as hugely positive, with many synergies brought by both businesses, as well as bringing great new talent to our team. Our Health & Benefits business has expanded to over 120 specialist people. 

It also strengthened several of our countries where there were established GrECo and MAI CEE offices and furthered GrECo’s reach across the CESEE region with new operations in Albania and Georgia. Our business in Georgia officially changed its name to GrECo in early November.

The pandemic brought many issues into sharp focus for employers but one of the most prevalent was ESG – particularly the social elements; how is the Health & Benefits business incorporating ESG? 

Addressing ESG factors can help employers manage their environmental and social footprint and determine their business risks and opportunities. The “social” element links directly to Health & Benefits. When looking more widely at the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, good health & well-being is one of the 17 goals – the GrECo Health & Benefits team is already part of this conversation with clients. 

With the geopolitical and global economic backdrop currently being faced by us all, we have never experienced this level of uncertainty before! When will the next pandemic hit? The next war? Global recession? Energy crisis…? It is now about how the Health & Benefits programme can function and be sustainable for when the next challenge arrives.

The new world order is bringing many existing workplace trends to the fore, accelerating the adoption of flexible/agile working as well as raising concerns around the mental health of employees.  

Adam Riley, Cert PFS 

Group Practice Leader Health & Benefits

T +44 (0) 7507 788 144

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The World Is Changing, Enter a New World Order!

The world is changing, enter a new world order!

Nowadays, employees expect more from their employer than ever before. Meeting these expectations will involve more personalisation of the health and benefits offering.

The world has had its fair share of upheavals, but when Covid became part of our daily conversations, irrespective of where one lived, we were all looking for the magic light at the end of the tunnel! It took a long time to come, never have we had to live with so much uncertainty, and this new state of uncertainty will become part of life, certainly for the foreseeable future.
 
Employers reacted quickly when another lockdown was announced. Working from home became the norm, and a new way of living was forced upon us. I remember when the first lockdown was announced; I thought it would soon be over, but days turned into weeks, then months. Schools closed, infrastructure suffered, travel became a distant memory, as did freely going on holiday.
 
The financial impact on the global economy was severe, and the true extent of the impact on people’s mental wellbeing is still largely unknown.
 
Then the unthinkable happened: a war in Europe! Further significant disruptions aggravated the already fragile and near-breaking healthcare and financial systems across the globe. Energy supplies, production lines, supply chains, distribution channels, and more, were equally hard hit. Many believe these disruptions have permanently altered the world order. While we all feel the direct and indirect impact of the war, managers and business owners have made it their top priority to protect the health and safety of their employees. 

A new world order …

History tells us that Woodrow Wilson and Winston Churchill introduced a term “new world order” to global politics, describing a new era of history marked by a profound shift in world political philosophy and the worldwide balance of power. Over the years, it became a factor in domestic and international relations and in legislation. It also sent out a clear message that change to the status quo was on the cards. As a result of the global consequences to the war in Europe, “a new political world order” has come about, again.
 
Rapid change and shifting trends have also found their way into companies. In response to the economic crisis – caused by the world bouncing back from Covid, changing weather systems, spending patterns and the conflict in Europe – employers are taking steps to support their staff, arguably much more than we have seen in recent memory, but this can only go so far as it is not just individuals who are affected. Employers also need to address their short, medium, and long-term strategies simply to remain in business.
 
The cost of living has risen significantly. Levels of inflation across the globe have spiked. Talks of recession and warnings of energy price-increases have become reality. The war in Europe, which many thought would be over quickly, still rages on, with terrible human loss. Unstable Governments resulting in profound market and economic shifts resulting in significant changes to financial ratings.
 
The news presents a gloomy outlook – yet, still, employers continue to uphold both health and benefits in their companies, whilst at the same time employers are facing increasing insurance premiums and crippling energy bills. Why? Their employees are important, as are the families. With this, we are seeing a shift in how employers are looking at their future benefit programmes – a steady wise in employers ripping up the “benefits blueprint” and looking at how to restructure their benefits to be more sustainable; more fit for purpose to assess how the wider package could better support their employees.
 
Whilst some level of financial support is welcomed by all, this is only one part of the solution. Employers with voluntary-style benefits, discount schemes etc can also signpost employees to these as they can offer real-time savings for every-day-expenditure.  In view of the current economic backdrop where pressure on salaries has started to impact, we are seeing more employers incorporating this into the wider offering, and anecdotal evidence shows this has been well-received by employees.
 
We learnt valuable lessons through lockdowns when innovative digital solutions were introduced because we could not access face-to-face services. Solutions such as online yoga and personal trainer lessons, telemedicine and virtual appointments to access General Practitioners, wearable technology being used to track fitness levels, our sleep, diet, etc. have been widely adopted.  Many of us have become used to doing things via handheld devices.
 

We need to better listen to our people

People typically don’t like to admit it they are struggling or ask for help! The same applies to financial difficulties, where many people struggle silently when faced with the next household bill, rising energy bills, dental costs, etc. Hence, employer attractiveness has long since ceased to be defined by just the daily fruit basket or a water cooler. Corporate culture and wider wellbeing must therefore be place permanently on the leadership agenda to enable employers to better support employees and promote financial, mental, physical and social Wellbeing.
 
Everyone knows and understands the arguments as to why Wellbeing needs to be taken seriously. When it comes to Wellbeing, it is a complex dynamic between the culture of the company, the work environment, external factors, and the physical, social, psychological & mental health of employees – it also perfectly dovetails into the wider ESG conversation and the key sustainable development goals!
 
As the Human Sustainability Index, a new way to track Wellbeing and performance, gains momentum, we’re seeing more and more organisations wake up to how they can decrease burnout and build performance and Wellbeing at the same time.
 
Employers also need to focus more on the individual; however, they first need to listen to what their employees are saying, and not simply push forward an employee “benefit” just because it may be a good idea for the company. Over the years, I have seen many employee “benefits” introduced (sometimes at significant cost to the company) only to hear the end recipients, the employees, say that it isn’t something which is needed or wanted.
 
Nowadays, employees expect more from their employer than ever before. Meeting these expectations will involve more personalisation of the benefits offering: employers reviewing what benefits are offered, restructuring leave, and working policies, bringing forward salary reviews to help those who need it most, and perhaps even shaping a position to suit the skills, experience, and ambitions of the individual they want to recruit. Ultimately, employees are expecting employers to work hard(er) to attract and retain them. Those that do can expect to gain the very best talent. Those that don’t will face an uphill struggle in getting the right people, achieving employee loyalty, and of course engaging their people!

Adam Riley, Cert PFS 

Group Practice Leader Health & Benefits

T +44 (0) 7507 788 144

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Make mental health & wellbeing for all a global priority, every day!

According to research by Deloitte in 2022, the total annual cost of poor mental health to employers increased by 25% since 2019, totalling between £53-56 billion in 2020/202

World Mental Health Day, October 10 and the theme for 2022 is “Make Mental Health & Wellbeing for all a Global Priority”. World Mental Health Day provides an opportunity to talk about mental health, how we need to look after it, and how important it is to talk about things and get help if you are struggling. As a society, we now live with permanent uncertainty – this will become part of life – but we also need to reflect on the toll these continued uncertainties are having on our wider health and wellbeing.

Whilst current figures are being assessed, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in 2021 that one in four people globally will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. They go on to say that around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide! Anecdotal evidence is strongly showing that the “post-Pandemic” figures will show a significant increase to what is already a staggering number of people living with mental health disorders.

According to research by Deloitte in 2022, the total annual cost of poor mental health to employers increased by 25% since 2019, totalling between £53-56 billion in 2020/2021.

Mental Health Data

But is mental health and mental illness the same thing? In short, no they’re not! By understanding the differences provides some insights into why, sometimes, we can overlook when someone needs help, and ensure they receive the correct treatment. The Centres for Disease Control (CDC) points out that many individuals with poor mental health (our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing, affecting how we think, feel, and act), have not been formally diagnosed with a mental illness (including: anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, or schizophrenia). Also, many people who do have a diagnosed mental illness “can experience periods of physical, mental, and social wellbeing.”
 
This is when the stigma attached to mental health / mental illness causes further issues, discrimination and sadly creates a situation where people don’t talk about what is worrying them – some would say this coupled with a general lack of understanding between mental health and mental illness impacts on the way we interact with others, handle problems, and make decisions.
 
The way mental health and mental illness is handled is different across the globe, and the approaches that each country takes are sometimes at different stages especially in how they perceive the condition culturally! For this reason, having discussed this very topic recently with a number of senior HR professionals, all agreed one key challenge to having a robust wellbeing strategy is how to embed it across different countries. It is important, therefore, to adapt their wellbeing polices accordingly.
 
Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, not unlike other regions, the stigma around mental health (and mental illness!) is prevalent. It remains a barrier for people to openly discuss or access the right level of care – and in some countries, the limited infrastructure remains a further problem. For many countries across Eastern Europe, institutionalised care remains a barrier for those with mental health disorders – there is also a wider issue when it comes to professionals in these countries moving away, creating a backlog with limited numbers of people able to properly care for those who most need help!

Mental Health Data

A report from Notes from Poland, set out how the three-stage system in Poland aims to move part of the burden of mental health support from psychiatry wards to local institutions offering services of psychologists and counsellors. The system includes improvements to hospital infrastructure, launch of a round-the-clock helpline, online support and prevention programmes, as well as easier access to specialists.
 
In Lithuania, considerable stigma around mental health remains – the country’s mental health system is largely lacking clear pathways for care, with a heavy reliance on hospitals to provide what support they can.
 
A worrying yet consistent observation is the lack of care pathways available for mental health-related illnesses across Eastern Europe. For example, research on the state of the Serbian mental health system conducted by the German Association for International Cooperation, conducted in 2022, showed that approximately one-third of the population of Serbia have clinically significant disorders that can be related to the symptoms of at least one disorder, while one-fifth showed symptoms clinically indicative of two or more disorders.
 
Having talked with our team in Turkey recently about mental health and wider disorders, the growing number of people being diagnosed, and seeking treatment is growing there too! Anxiety and depression has significantly increased, and according to the data of the Ministry of Health of Turkey (MoH), nearly one-fifth of the population face mental health issues, over three-million people suffer from depression, and of a population of about 83 million, some 9 million people seek mental health support in Turkey each year.
 
More proactive and preventative measures, coupled with ongoing reforms (and financial support) is needed in order to continue building a culture where employees (people!) feel comfortable talking about their mental health (and mental illnesses). It is unlikely the stigma will be removed, but collectively we can work towards removing this across as many cultures and countries as possible. One of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals is “good health & wellbeing”, and the management of employee health and wellbeing must therefore remain a key agenda leadership agenda item, and core element of an employer’s employee value proposition.

Mental Health Data

Looking inwardly, at GrECo, we take a proactive approach when it comes to our peoples’ wellbeing – it is not a “tick-box” exercise for us! We have made employee wellbeing a priority that forms part of our culture, embedded within the DNA of our business.
 
For GrECo, looking after our people’s mental health is every day! The truth is in the pudding…by offering access to counselling, “wellbeing days off”, yoga, healthy food, stress prevention tools, and listening to what is not being said has created an environment where some of the stigma attached to mental health and mental illness has been broken down. Whilst all of these initiatives are great, having recently discussed this with our Head of Group HR, we are the first to admit our approach is not perfect yet, but it is a continual topic on our senior leadership agenda. For example, this forms part of regular discussions I have with my country Health & Benefit leaders to ensure our people are being listened to, supported, and importantly watching out for the “unseen” changes in behaviour and health. We believe a “one-size-fits-all” strategy is no longer an option, our people are all different and in return they should have a safe environment to be able to talk about what is affecting them and be reassured a more tailored approach to looking after their mental health is in place!
 
Whatever the differences in regions, all employers need to focus on developing a mental health and wellbeing strategy that promotes more openness around mental health and ensure they are supporting to people with mental illness. It can’t just be a tick box exercise. A “one-size-fits-all” approach is unlikely to be effective, as different countries are at different stages in their awareness of and acceptance of the issues related to mental health and mental illness.
 
The working culture, and making sure it’s not contributing to high levels of stress and anxiety is a key area to assess, on an ongoing basis. Offering greater flexibility and the ability to work at home could help employees deal with stress. Creating a working environment where people feel comfortable and able to ask for some time off if they need is all part of providing a supportive and open culture. Ensuring people know how to access help is vital too.
 
Often companies have mental health programmes in place, but employees don’t know where to go or feel uncomfortable asking, so focusing on communication around mental health support and ensuring employees know how to access appropriate pathways are key. Over the next few months, globally, we will have further occasions to also consider how to support our people such as World Menopause Month, Men’s Health Awareness week, International Stress Awareness week, Talk Money week, and of course not forgetting our children during Children’s Mental Health week – all forming part of the three core pillars of Financial, Mental and Physical Wellbeing.
 
So, as we approach World Mental Health Day on October 10, it creates an opportunity to really consider how we can create a more open  culture and consider how wellbeing strategies can support their employees’ wellbeing. Without doubt, prevention and early intervention is key, but reducing stigma is also important when talking about mental health, mental illness, or asking for help! Every day provides the opportunity for employers to demonstrate the steps they are taking to ensure their employees’ wellbeing is high on boardroom and leadership agendas, and how this is embedded within the company DNA!
 
We have come a long way already. Wellbeing is a complex dynamic between the culture of the company, the work environment, and the mental, physical, psychological and social health of its employees but more needs to be done to ensure this discussion becomes an intrinsic part of the day-to-day company culture.
 
 

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Adam Riley, Cert PFS 

Group Practice Leader Health & Benefits

T +44 (0) 7507 788 144

Menopause matters in the workplace!

In 2020 there were over 650 million women aged 45- 59, many contributing to the workforce throughout their menopausal years

October signifies World Menopause Month, the first held in October 2014, and the theme for 2022 is “Cognition & Mood”. It is a time to raise awareness, address support options for improving the wider health & wellbeing, and of course jointly looking at ways, globally, we can break down the barriers, which for many has become a “taboo” subject, in order for this to be widely and freely discussed without a stigma being attached.
 
The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee (UK) recently reported that over a third of women reported taking time off work due to menopause symptoms, which included problems with memory or concentration, anxiety/ depression and headaches. Additionally, a third of women didn’t tell work colleagues or Human Resources they were going through the menopause as were worried about the reaction of others!
 
As with other health & wellbeing related areas, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with the menopause at work, and with a steady rise of information becoming available (and misinformation) can be overwhelming and confusing. Whilst the menopause isn’t a mental health condition, changes in hormones during menopause can impact mental health as well as a woman’s physical health.

A key challenge for Human Resources is how to embed a robust wellbeing strategy across different countries.
 
In 2020 there were over 650 million women aged 45- 59, many contributing to the workforce throughout their menopausal years. The menopausal transition most often begins between ages 45 and 55 but can sometimes happen earlier naturally, and usually lasts about seven years but can be as long as 14 years. The duration can depend on lifestyle factors such as smoking, age it begins, and race and ethnicity.

Workplace health and wellbeing frameworks and policies should therefore incorporate menopausal health as part of the wider context of gender and age equality and reproductive and post-reproductive health. With menopausal women now the fastest-growing workforce demographic, menopause is no longer an issue employers can ignore!
 
A 2021 report by the Fawcett Society, found that more than half of women and transgender men experiencing menopause said their symptoms had made them less likely to want to apply for a promotion (Menopause in the Workplace: Impact on Women in Financial Services (Fawcett Society, 2021).

Meanwhile, when looking at menopause In Australia, where women make up 57% of the higher-education workforce and 78% of the health and social-care sector, a survey last year of menopausal women working in health care and universities discovered that many felt guilty about their perceived underperformance. (Riach, K. & Jack, G. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 18, 10793 (2021).
 
In 2019 a UK survey of 1,400 women experiencing menopause symptoms found that nearly two-thirds were less able to concentrate at work, more than half experienced more stress and nearly one-third took sick leave because of symptoms.

The reality is these are not isolated results, but the Australian study identified respondents disagreeing on whether employers should introduce menopause-specific policies. Some felt such policies might marginalise older female workers.
 
Looking at Turkey – following research undertaken (ending January 2020) by Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, they went on to recommend that the Turkish health system should design wider health promotional programmes and counselling services to promote positive attitudes towards menopause in women during the climacteric period. This research was carried out to assess the attitudes towards menopause in Turkey, in order to plan more comprehensive healthcare pathway promotions. The recommendations made followed responses of two-thirds of participating women experiencing the menopause reported it has / had a negative impact on them.
 
Meanwhile, in the UK, Channel 4 recently surveyed over 4,000 UK women, aged 45-55 and experiencing the perimenopause or menopause. The results were staggering! 77% of women experienced at least one “very difficult” symptom and 69% experienced some form of anxiety or depression due to the menopause. Meanwhile, inflexible dress codes were shown to cause discomfort, particularly for key workers and women working in semi-skilled and unskilled manual operations roles.

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The New Focus on Talent

Digital transformation, demographic change, increasing complexity and a global virus are leading to a continuous process of change. For those responsible for Human Resources, this situation brings new opportunities and challenges.

Read more …

Gabriele Andratschke

Head of Group Human Resources

T +43 664 962 39 18

‘Our only focus is on our client’s and people’s needs’

Ante_Banovac_GrECo

Ante Banovac, a member of our Executive Board, shares his thoughts about future risks facing the insurance industry, the state of the insurance market in Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia and the role that risk specialists have in a world full of increasing risks. The interview was originally published in the Svet osiguranja, an insurance specialized publication issued in Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia. 

 

Insurance today is facing a number of challenges posed by the risks of the new age that are constantly increasing. What are the biggest risks today that companies should pay attention to as insurance brokers?
At GrECo we see four mega trends and their consequences as the main risk changers driving a fundamental transformation of our client’s risk landscape. These are the challenging development of our environment, leading to climate risks such as an increasing impact of natural hazards as a result of climate change, but also the reaction of the global industry adapting their business models to reach their sustainability targets. Furthermore, the digital transition leads to great opportunities for innovation with the result, that corporate assets and therefore the risk landscape of a company nowadays is increasingly affected by intangible risks such as cyber or reputational risks.

Another area that keeps our clients busy is the limitations which are arising from our globalized economy. The global pandemic and the current war in Ukraine lead to dramatic impacts on supply chains impacting prices and therefore also endangering our level of welfare. Finally, all industries are more and more struggling with the enormous lack of skilled labour, and this leads to a war for talents and changes in the labour market where employees are more and more dictating the rules.
 
And what do you see as the biggest challenge for insurers in responding to those risks that companies and citizens face? Are there risks that are in danger of exceeding the capacity of re (insurers), which have been insurable so far? (The issue of cyber risk, supply chain disruption due to the pandemic, and also due to other risks is mentioned …)
The situation for insurers is not easy. The new risks are challenging them and are very difficult to calculate, leading to a rather cautious approach with respect to coverage and limits. For example, capacities in the cyber insurance market are currently very scarce and insurers and reinsurers cannot provide sufficient balance sheet protection for our large corporate clients, where insurance should traditionally be the last line of defence in a corporate risk management strategy.

Another example of their difficult situation is the need to contribute to a carbon-free future. Companies must change their processes and sometimes even business models in order to fulfil their new sustainability targets over time. These measures lead to new risks. To react to those necessities insurers are looking into their ESG agenda and for example blacklisting carbon-heavy industries such as coal, because they must. At the same time, proper solutions helping this industry to manage the challenges of transformation in front of them are somewhat disregarded.  

Serbia is generally the least developed when it comes to insurance compared to Croatia and Slovenia. What do you think could and should be better? In which segments should changes be made?
I think the key components in a long process are financial education for younger generations and stable, strong and reliable domestic insurance markets together with a growing overall economy. You see, how insurance is perceived in the mind of citizens is strongly influenced by claims experiences made in the past and the reliability of institutions in general. Changing perception to the positive requires time. Serbia has some very good insurers today. Jointly, constant efforts need to be made to educate insurance takers, both private and corporate, to keep conducting image campaigns and convincing through professional and transparent claims handling. GrECo is a corporate specialist broker. We have been pioneers in developing risk awareness and understanding of insurance as one possible tool for risk mitigation in Central- and Southeast Europe for more than 30 years. Together with our insurer partners, we are continuing to contribute to this development every day.
 
What type of insurance do you think has a better chance of developing in Serbia, and is not sufficiently represented now?
Next to the classical and established coverages like Property damage and motor insurance lines, we see a rapidly growing need for Health & Benefits solutions. This is mostly connected to the already mentioned war for talent and skilled labour as companies are looking for ways of attracting and retaining employees. Another area which from our point of view is not yet developed enough is all lines of liability including specialty casualty lines. Those require specialist knowledge and proper consultancy, so clients would see their huge benefit. Increasing awareness of liability risks would also contribute to the overall development of the acceptance of risk consulting and advisory in Serbia.

When we talk about the activities of insurance brokers, can you compare these three markets in which you are present? What is the situation, where it is most developed, who uses your services the most in terms of the industry that is most represented in your portfolios?
In all three markets, I’d say that most registered insurance brokers are acting as generalists, offering services in all insurance lines, mostly collecting offers from the insurance market and focusing on product and price comparison, leaving claims handling completely to insurers. Those are competing with insurers and their agents directly, especially in the retail segment, servicing private individuals. A few brokers take it one step further and are also assisting clients with knowledge and expertise during claims handling, but still being generalists. Very few brokers are offering true risk management and specialty advisory with innovative solutions to improve a company’s corporate risk management. Being a strictly corporate & specialty broker, we belong to the latter group and we believe this is where true value is created for corporates. To do this in Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia you need patience in explaining the difference between a pure product comparison and price-driven approach on the one hand side and highly skilled, often very specialized teams on the other.

We are not insurance dealers, but risk advisors. Major industries we specialize in and we are advising are financial institutions, construction, Oil & gas, Power generation and distribution, Food & beverage, Tourism, Transportation & Logistics, Aviation, and Telecommunication. The need for professional risk advisory has developed and grown over the years and we believe it will continue to grow as economies in all three countries continue to grow over the longer term. Recently, the fragility of global supply chains became apparent due to the pandemic. We expect to see certain effects of nearshoring in the future. Countries like Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia have the chance to benefit from this development.

Insurers have recently faced major flood damage, but on the other hand, most assets are still uninsured against such risks. Only 35 per cent of economically relevant climate losses are currently insured in the EU. How to bridge that gap? Will insurance become more expensive precisely because of the growing climate risks?
Climate change represents one of the most critical challenges in the future in general and for insurance companies as Nat Cat risks are clearly on the rise. Because of a rapidly changing exposure arising from climate risks, there are limits to insurability and economic affordability of insurance covers for corporations. Current risk transfer strategies, relying on traditional insurance solutions alone, without adapting their facilities to these changes, will not bridge the gap. While insurers and risk consultants like us are constantly developing new, innovative concepts of coverage, corporations who have not yet done so will still need to think about Nat Cat Management – meaning analysing and understanding their risks properly, then managing, i.e., mitigating those risks technically. In the longer run, we believe those whole industries will have to transform their business models, factories, and supply chains to increase their resilience and adapt to climate change. Therefore, also our business models are transforming as we are increasingly becoming risk specialists helping our clients to thrive in a changing world.

Although insurance companies have shown great resilience in volatile times over the past two years, how will the current geopolitical instability still affect the work of insurers? And in what way? How much do you think all this geopolitical tension will disrupt general stability, the economy, and finances in 2022 when it comes to this region (Adriatic)?
The insurance industry is one of the most resilient industries and will continue to be one. The consequences of geopolitical instability in the insurance sector that we have seen so far relate to the revocation of coverage of international insurance programmes in Russia because of imposed sanctions, but also in Ukraine. Further, after many years of ultra-loose interest policies of the European Central Bank, inflation has now manifested itself in Europe while economies are not really growing significantly. We are looking at stagflation. Inflation will for instance lead to higher unpredictability of losses as higher replacement costs can be expected, but it is difficult to predict upfront how much higher. The ongoing instability of supply chains also affects replacement times, adding another element of uncertainty. So, predominantly the work of insurers, but especially professional risk advisors and brokers is affected in the way that an even higher level of diligence needs to be applied when consulting clients to safeguard them from such significant, unexpected losses. The ones best technically skilled and prepared to provide professional risk management and advisory will even benefit.

When it comes to the Adriatic region, I believe the same principle of increased diligence applies. It is difficult to say how current geopolitical tensions will translate to this region during the rest of the year and look further ahead, but I hope that we will see a general trend of de-escalation. Economic interdependencies between nations are significant and it is hard to imagine that further escalation would do any good, economically and also from a civil and social perspective for the people in the region.

However, challenging times have always also been phases of opportunity to than in calmer times innovate, adapt and improve. I am very happy to see that corporations, including insurers, became more agile, by showing efforts towards necessary transformation and adaption to this constant crisis. The insurance industry is, thankfully, wide awake and moving ahead.
 
Although the Croatian insurance sector has so far proved to be relatively stable during the corona crisis, could the effect of the crisis on insurance companies occur with a certain time lag?
That depends on whether we will see new, again significantly more dangerous variants of the virus or not. If yes, it is fair to assume that protective measures like further lockdowns will fuel the current stagflation and make another serious dent in the Croatian economy. This may then also influence the results of insurers. If not, I’m quite positive that such a scenario will not occur.
 
How should risk monitoring be approached in these unstable times (pandemic, war, disturbed international relations, pronounced climate change)?

As I stated already in the beginning, from my point of view it is most important to include a proper risk prognosis within a company´s risk management process. This means, that forward-looking companies adapt early to uncertainty by constantly applying methods for assessing their business model and their supply chains, checking vulnerabilities and potential impacts. The risk management department must be aware of these changes at the earliest possible stage, to anticipate the possible impact on their specific risk landscape and develop appropriate treatment strategies. Therefore, it is now more than ever of utmost importance that risk advisors and insurers are finally much more included in the clients’ strategic planning. We are increasingly rendering such services and we see more and more clients understanding and appreciating this. This is a good trend.

Croatia is intensively preparing for the introduction of the euro, on January 1, 2023? How will this affect the insurance industry?
Yes, after a long process of preparation and fulfilment of EU requirements Croatia will be taking this major step, which I personally welcome. In the best scenario, this will contribute to increasing foreign investment which in turn could create additional value and increase the total amount of economic assets in Croatia, leading to increased demand for insurance. The pure change from HRK to EUR itself will have no major impact on insurers. In fact, the HRK has been linked to the EUR for decades now. Many major economic transactions in the country have effectively been executed in EUR. It remains to be seen whether insurers will try to use the currency change for (unjustified) price increases. However, the insurance industry is a competitive market with sufficient choices for clients, so I believe this risk shouldn’t be too pronounced.

Croatia has a relatively developed insurance market. Where is insurance in Croatia most developed in comparison to the region? Where does the market in Croatia still need to catch up with the more developed countries in Europe?
Interesting question. Yes, I would agree that Croatia’s insurance market is generally relatively well developed when comparing it to other economies in the region, but there is not a huge difference. In fact, in the Adriatic region, the Slovenian market seems to be the most advanced. This is also reflected in the per-capita expenditure for insurance in general which is highest in Slovenia. In general, we see well-established Lines of Business and really good products, especially in Property and Business Interruption, of course, motor insurance, but also general liability coverages and to a certain extent in Health & Benefits across the region.

Unfortunately, and this is the major difference to more mature western economies, the focus for many companies seems to still rather be on basic protection of assets, based on a Casco mentality translating into possibly no or low deductibles. This shows that understanding of risk- and insurance management is still on a level which offers potential for improvement. This is where we need to catch up. However, this is changing for the better. The understanding of benefits and the value of professional risk management is increasing among Croatian corporations and in fact, there are some very mature companies in this respect we service in already for many years. Those companies are blazing the trail for others and the number will increase.

We observe that the understanding of risk and risk management today correlates with the size of the business rather than with any specific country in the region. The more mid-sized companies learn how to analyse and calculate all their business risks – hence, knowing their total cost of risk (TCOR), the more we will see purchasing behaviour moving closer to more developed western European insurance takers. At GrECo, we are passionate about helping companies increase their awareness of a holistic approach to risk.

GrECo recently acquired MAI CEE. What exactly will that acquisition bring you?
We like to see this transaction rather as joining forces than an acquisition. This is a strategic investment into a joint future. Unlike private equity or other financial investors, our shareholders are thinking long-term and our full focus is on servicing our clients, being a trusted and loyal partner to them offering first-class specialist solutions. After thirty years of dedicated work, GrECo is the leading independent insurance broker & risk advisor in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe today. This region is what we call our home territory. We are constantly striving to improve and strengthen our leading position by offering talented people from the region a superb platform to develop and grow. MAI is also an independent broker, traditionally rooted in CEE and SEE, just like us.

Also, MAI is home to many incredibly talented and motivated people. I know this first-hand, as I have been deeply involved in making this transaction happen. Together we will be expanding and improving the portfolio of our professional services for our clients. MAI brings, among many other things, superb expertise in servicing international business, first-class international network affiliations and strong Health & Benefits and HR advisory into the Group. We are proud that MAI has chosen to shape the future of risk advisory in Eastern Europe together with us.

Until recently, you were at the helm of GrECo nova, an international network of brokers. Who is gathered in that network and what is its basic role?
GrECo nova is is our global specialist insurance broking network which provides our clients with decisive benefits in all their global ventures. What we do here is ensure GrECo’s quality of service for our multinational clients worldwide. We are having a wide range of long-standing partnerships with other leading independent international brokers in their parts of the world. Under our network GrECo nova, we foster active collaboration of insurance experts who are sharing our culture and values. As the international broker landscape is dynamic, we work with them on a non-exclusive basis, constantly monitoring the quality of services via a sophisticated process. We go the extra mile and have a team that is travelling extensively meeting partners in person around the globe. This way we build trust beyond the usual level and our clients can feel this in the international servicing we put together for them every day.

How much can a broker actually contribute to a company in terms of choosing the right policy and achieving the best price?
The broker is the client’s advocate and expert. He represents the client in front of the insurance market. If the client understands the value of a broker, then the broker is selected carefully, maybe in a broker tender, and appointed exclusively. The broker speaks thoroughly with the client in the analysis phase, gaining a full understanding of all aspects of the risks the client is facing and forming a risk mitigation strategy. Then, the professional broker and risk advisor – not only the insurance dealer as described previously – can engage in a serious process of what we call marketing the risk, or broking. He can approach all insurers, locally and if needed internationally, making it clear that he is appointed exclusively, and the negotiation is about the best possible terms for the risk coverage at the best possible price for his client. This very often means designing the coverage instead of selecting an existing insurance product. The outcome for the client in such cooperation is usually very good. The value of the cooperation between client and broker is then periodically assessed, say once a year, or every three years.

This still happens too rarely in South-eastern Europe, unfortunately. What we often see is that companies appoint multiple brokers, very often not engaging in a risk dialogue before. They think the more brokers they appoint, the better the result will be because there is a higher probability that someone will bring the best price to them. However, the opposite is the case. This is very important to understand: when multiple brokers are appointed, then the brokers who are supposed to be the clients’ advocates and experts are having a difficult task. All those brokers go to the different available insurers. The insurers then have the difficulty of not knowing which broker will be the one whose offer will be selected by the client and hence, usually settle on one offer and send it to all the brokers to maintain fair competition. A deeper conversation about the risk between broker and insurer is often neglected and the risk is not marketed in the best way. The outcome is that, while the offer may be cheaper, it may often also be lacking fundamental aspects of coverage and is hence not the best possible solution for the client. Although not in anyone’s interest, the broker in this case in effect becomes an agent of the insurers, an insurance product dealer. This can seriously harm the client in case of a major claim when the client then finds out what he has bought.

So, the right broker, appointed exclusively, can bring enormous value to the client when engaging in a risk dialogue first, setting the right risk mitigation and insurance strategy, before approaching insurance markets. Then, marketing the risk as the exclusively appointed broker can make all the difference.

GrECo is a family business, does it give it any advantages over other brokers that are mostly owned by funds?
I believe yes. At first sight, it might seem that for a client it does not matter who is the owner of a broker. But, what does matter is the people performing services for the client. Now, there is a saying that when you care about your people then they will take care of your clients with all their hearts. I believe this to be true and we are offering a lot to our teams.

The first is stability. GrECo has a long tradition of sticking closely to its people, especially during difficult times and providing them with a very stable business environment. For example, during the pandemic, there were no layoffs and no salary cuts at GrECo.

Second, continuity at the management level. We are a hands-on, flat organisation and management is very much approachable to everybody, decisions can be made quickly and without complicated processes. Also, management is carefully selected, and there for the long-term. There is no hire-and-fire mentality. This helps us to set a strategy, pursue it and establish much deeper trust with our people. In our daily work, we don’t need to focus on some financial investors’ or stock market analysts’ expectations. Our only focus is on our client’s and people’s needs. We believe that this is more attractive to skilled employees and talented young people than working for PE-backed brokers who are strongly EBIT-focused and interested to resell the company after a determined period. While we are a very successful company, those owners are in the investment banking business, not in the corporate insurance broking business. We are. And people, as well as our clients, can feel this.

You recently became a member of the Executive Board of GrECo Holding. Where did you come from in insurance and among insurance brokers, how did your career develop and what do you think brought you to that high position?
Yes. And I am very grateful that our supervisory board and our shareholders are placing so much trust in me. I started my career in 1997 in Germany as an apprentice, working for one of the major German insurers. I went through all departments from property-, motor-, liability-, and health- to life insurance and claims and enjoyed a very good, classical insurance education. I went into sales and client servicing after this and learned what it means to understand and satisfy clients’ needs while running my own brokerage company. During this time, I also studied insurance management and economics in Munich and attained my bachelor’s degree. I continued my professional education at the Chartered Insurance Institute in London and became a Fellow of the CII. Finally, I completed my studies with an MBA in General Management in the UK. I joined GrECo in 2014 and had the chance to contribute to our Group’s international development, always putting people first, working hard and (hopefully) smart. I guess when you love what you do this is visible to others and can be inspiring.

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Adam Riley becomes new Group Practice Leader Health & Benefits for GrECo

GrECo has appointed Adam Riley as Group Practice Leader Health & Benefits, a newly created executive leadership role, to run, build and develop GrECo’s specialist Health & Benefits business across 17 countries throughout Central & Eastern Europe (CEE).
 
Adam joins from Howden Group where he was Director of Global Sales, Employee Benefits, part of their specialist Global Employee Benefits Practice Group. Adam was also the Howden One International Network Global Employee Benefits Manager for Howden’s own international network. Previously, Adam held senior roles at Aon, Portus Consulting and Pannells in the UK.

Georg Winter, CEO GrECo Group commented: “We warmly welcome Adam to GrECo and are delighted he has joined us at this very important juncture in our growth. Adam is highly regarded and well-respected across the Health & Benefits profession, he brings significant experience, insights, and importantly as we have already seen, a fresh outlook to GrECo. On behalf of the Executive Board, I personally wish Adam every success in the role.

So, Adam, welcome to GrECo! Why did you decide to join GrECo?
Following the acquisition of MAI CEE, GrECo has become the leading specialist insurance broker & consultant across CEE. The creation of my new role to run, build and develop GrECo´s growing Health & Benefits (H&B) business reflects the demands of clients and employers across countries in which they operate. We will relaunch our H&B offering across CEE, and wider international markets and thus follow our growth strategy to become the leading Health & Benefits consultancy across CEE, which further enhances the value proposition for clients, partners and carriers.
 
What key topics are you seeing employer’s discussing?
Beyond insured benefits, employers are looking at other factors which are part of the wider HR & organisational strategy. Areas such as, ESG (Environment, Social and Governance), alignment of benefits with corporate objectives, employee value proposition and achieving a balanced work / life harmony across their domestic and international workforce, are impacting decisions around benefits design and strategy.
 
What do you feel employers are looking for from a H&B partner?
A great question! Employers want to work with a trusted loyal partner who will provide greater support and tailored and progressive solutions, coupled with expert and professional advice, ensuring they have the right benefits, strategy, and direction in place to meet the changing needs of their employees and business.
 
Tell us about the Adam, outside of work:
I’m married, with two daughters. I also love SCUBA diving – and am a PADI Assistant Instructor. When I’m not talking H&B, the two most fantastic places in the world are either being with my family, or underwater!
 
Thanks, Adam. A final word from you?
Joining GrECo in their next phase of strategic growth is hugely exciting and provides an amazing opportunity to build and run their H&B business. I am hugely excited to be part of this team and its future strategy.

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Health & Benefits Insurance: Matching Employer Brands & Employee Needs

Employees looking at Health and Benefits Insurance

Our Health & Benefits team analyses and determines actual client needs and develops individual or collective employee benefits plans based on corporate goals.

Protecting the health and safety of employees has never been more important for employers than right now. Employees are now looking for working environments that best meet their individual needs, provide well-being and health benefits as well as opportunities for career development. Employers are thus challenged to adopt new ways of cooperation and establish a collaboration culture with new values. Asserting one’s employer brand position and remaining attractive for both existing employees and new talents has never been more difficult.

Across the globe, HR managers are familiar with the “war for talents” – the battle for skilled workers. Hence, it is
not uncommon for highly qualified professionals to have the upper hand in negotiations. Committed employees
expect more than just an adequate remuneration for their work performance. Looking beyond tomorrow,
they expect additional packages, such as a contribution to their personal future provision or even a pension plan.

We like to act in the spirit of a large Opbacher family and offer our employees special solutions in the area of employee benefits. The GrECo team has the necessary expertise to coordinate the content of these solutions with our tax advisor and the perseverance for the right timing.

Mag. Viktoria Neuner-Opbacher
Managing Director at Opbacher Installationen

Providing tailored Health & Benefits insurance solutions

We put our effort into satisfying the individual needs of our clients by making sure they receive:

  • Tailored health and benefits concepts which we compare to relevant labour and tax law options.
  • Planning and support for in-house implementation and optimisation of existing systems.
  • Support in the selection of partners through tender negotiations and comparisons, evaluations, etc., as well as support for tenders under public procurement law.
  • Complete project management expertise to implement employee benefits schemes.

“The specialists from GrECo regularly benchmark our existing Health & Benefits programmes with others available in the market. We receive reliable market research, loss ratio reports
and information on brand new products e.g. Covid-19 or cancer insurance. Moreover, GrECo Poland also provides support for our employees –they are always available per e-mail and telephone for them!

Marta Pogorzelska
HR Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim Poland

Creating added value

We help clients tackle the challenges they face as employers:

  • Premium and cost containment: Our multilevel approach to obtain best pricing conditions as well as regular and transparent loss ratio control results boosts efficiency in risk placement conditions.
  • Individual approach and service quality: Ensuring the highest quality standard and an individual approach at all stages is our topmost priority.
  • GrECo competitive environment: We aim for an optimal cost benefit, coupled with the widest possible coverage.
  • Highly professional team: Every member of our Health & Benefits team is a highly qualified specialist who looks back on five and more years of experience in insurance and employee benefits.

We had an extensive decision-making process about the change of our severance payment fund together with our works council and the investment department. The specialists from GrECo accompanied this decision with their in-depth knowledge and experience based on their annual market study, which gives a long-term overview of the development of the severance payment funds.

Gerhard Humpeler
CFO at Julius Blum GmbH

This article is part of our new Annual report 2021. The annual report gives you a review on GrECo`s facts & figures of the last business year and our most important developments. In addition you can find testimonials on the services the GrECo Group provides to its clients. The case studies are from different industries and GrECo regions.

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