As businesses embark on a new year, what risk management strategies are they resolved to tackle?

A cross-disciplinary group of employers representing a spectrum of industries turned out to share their common risk management goals during the Kraus-Anderson Insurance 2018 Business Risk Roundtable, held November 28, 2018 at Kraus-Anderson headquarters in Minneapolis.

Event emcee Keith Burkhardt, KA Insurance Vice President was joined by other KA Insurance team leaders including Kelly Brenna, SPHR, Vice President, HR and Benefit Services, and Seth Hausman, Managing Director, Kraus-Anderson Risk Innovation, who shared some highlights of the educational event below.  

How were the Roundtable topics selected?

KEITH BURKHARDT: We selected the topics of Digital Risk, Employee Engagement, and Data Analytics from results of a client survey we conducted back in August. The topics really follow the money- this is where businesses are focusing their energies right now.

What was the format of the Roundtable? What Industries and roles were represented?

BURKHARDT: Our guests participated in a series of three discussion groups, each facilitated by a KA Insurance expert who provided topic fundamentals and facilitated open discussion. We kept it very intimate, guiding the conversation with just 6-8 participants per session, which allowed people to feel comfortable sharing.  And we used case studies to illustrate key points. No one was looking at their cellphones!

We had eight industries represented, including construction, property management, manufacturing and healthcare. The makeup of the sessions was very cross-disciplinary, including professionals from Legal, HR, IT, CEO’s and CIOs; also both new and seasoned employees. We really tried to represent all of those in each group, to share perspectives.  

What were some takeaways from the employee engagement discussion?

KELLY BRENNA: With unemployment at historic lows, clients are having trouble getting and retaining new employees. And we have a multigenerational workforce and that requires strong leadership and communication skills. Our clients really see the importance of keeping the good employees they have. We discussed the importance of communication and the significance of communicating outside of email. With so many communication platforms now in use, face-to-face communication seems to be in decline. Other areas of importance for employee engagement were benefits, opportunities for advancement, and trust in management.   

Employee retention strategies that are built around engagement are very effective. Key elements of effective engagement surveys include anonymity; customized questions and making room for open-ended questions that allow employees to make suggestions. And we talked about the importance of management responding to the survey results and communicating that back to employees.

What were the highlights of the Digital Risk discussion?

We discussed at length about security controls for both people and devices, including the importance of getting buy-in from employees and management for appropriate security measures.

In the case study discussion, participants were surprised at the ultimate cost of the loss event and very interested in what was a covered by insurance for the Cyber Event and the expenses the Case firm incurred from poor management practices and processes of their IT system not covered by insurance. Lack of verification for system updates and backups created a lot of issues.  Also, the lack of training for new employees on system utilization and Cyber threat awareness contributed to the firm’s vulnerability of a cyber-attack.

What were the takeaways from the Data Analytics discussion?

SETH HAUSMAN: We talked about two challenges: (1) what data do we have and what is the quality of that data; and (2) what insights can we get from our data and how can we use it to make better risk-based, business decisions. We then walked through decision simulation modeling as a method to use data to make those decisions with more informed uncertainty.

Finally, I asked attendees what the greatest current risks to their businesses were; and which were most critical to include in decision-making processes. Their responses were:

  • Data privacy
  • Supply chain
  • Adapting to change
  • Tariffs
  • Automobiles
  • Schedule and budget
  • Proforma modeling
  • Crisis management
  • Economy
  • Customer relationships
  • Bad decisions
  • Less capital
  • Labor

The Risk Roundtable covered a lot of ground! How did insurance as a risk management tool fit into these discussions? And what happens next?

BURKHARDT: We were intentional about wanting to not bring “insurance” in as a risk solution. Rather we were looking at behaviors, strategies and processes to mitigate risk in these areas. In our experience with 2,200 clients, we’ve found that If you address your risk, there’s a higher possibility your insurance will cover your events. To that end, we’ve been following up with our guests, offering certified courses on these and related topics in our customer learning center. Our clients are proactive, they appreciate these resources and look to our people as valued consultants. By deepening that relationship, we grow our business.