Sara Shipley, INSTANDA's Chief Human Resources Officer, Discusses HR Innovation and EVP

Posted on 10th June 2022

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Sara Shipley, INSTANDA's Chief Human Resources Officer, Discusses HR Innovation and EVP

Posted on 10th June 2022

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In May, we sat down with INSTANDA's Chief Human Resources Officer, Sara Shipley, to hear about her ambitions for HR innovation and how she optimised INSTANDA's employee value proposition (EVP).

She also explains what makes INSTANDA different from any other company she's worked at, including the initiatives that set the organisation apart.

What was it that attracted you to the company?

What we're trying to create here really appealed to me. That is, preparing to be disruptive, be creative, and fix people's problems. There's something really engaging about them from a personal point of view.

I also liked how decisive they were in the hiring process. On Monday, I met with my predecessor, had a session with Tim on Tuesday, did a pitch with the COO on Friday, and had my offer by Friday afternoon.

What I took from that fast process was that they knew what they were looking for and moved quickly once they found it. So that gave me a sense of how the organisation would work. And the ability to move swiftly and just push through was something that appealed to me a lot.

I'm driven to be somewhere I feel like I'm making a difference, and at INSTANDA, I really am. We're building something that's a true disrupter in this environment.

I also like the idea of being able to be captain of my own ship and push for the HR innovation I have wanted to see. I think HR can often exist in a vacuum, away from other departments implementing HR processes, without evaluating whether they are adding value and helping the organisation achieve its ambition. This was my opportunity to create something that's properly embedded, partnering with all the functions to help leverage the HR function to support the organisation to be as successful as possible, and put people at the heart of decision making. After all, people are our most powerful asset.

From a candidate's viewpoint, what makes INSTANDA different from other insurtech businesses in the industry?

I think every insurtech business would say they're defining the future, but INSTANDA truly is. While we have an anchor to people that have worked in insurance, we are ruthlessly determined to make sure we don't get sucked into a legacy system or a legacy way of thinking — we're all about finding that innovation and disruption.

What makes INSTANDA different from other insurtechs is that, first and foremost, we're a people-first company. We have fantastic people in clearly defined roles that work together.

We have an environment made up of different populations. We have:

  • The tech arm, where they build what we sell.

  • The central function, which includes our marketing and HR teams.

  • The sales and account management arm, where they interact with our clients and prospects.

So, we have three different breeds of people that bring in this rich, diverse culture, where we have a true diversity of thought. This is the most diverse and open-door organisation I've ever worked in. People's opinions are factored into almost every decision we make. There's no micromanagement, and people are free to work at their best. It's a very empowering environment to work in.

What are your ambitions for 2022?

My goal is to turbocharge our learning offering to help people develop and progress. For talented people, there should be no cap as to where the road can take them. So, I want to implement new functions and expand on existing ones to give every employee the tools they need. I want to have a proper career framework in place so that people can see and understand how they can own their journey and get excited about that.

One of the things I've also been asked to focus on this year is the process flow. We want to create a golden thread that runs through the entire organisation, identifying the handoffs and creating the governance structure to make them smooth. It's about defining the engine to use and making sure we put in the right fuel to run it properly.

Basically, we want to continue to evolve and ensure that we stay competitive with our value proposition and also from a pay/bonus/benefits point of view.

What are the key HR innovation initiatives you're planning and why?

One of the most important things we're working on is improving our employee value proposition to help us attract and hold onto talented people. We've worked on our pension proposition and introduced things like life cover and group income protection to create a more holistic benefits package.

We're also making changes to our hybrid working and redesigning our office spaces to properly highlight what work we expect people to do when they go in. The goal is to move away from the standard setup where people set up their laptops at a desk because they can do that at home.

People miss the human connection, so we want to give them the tools to collaborate in person. We'll build more meeting rooms and breakout spaces where people can focus on tasks that can't be done at home.

Finally, we're working on upgrading our Pay Review Pots to help people deal with the increasing cost of living. We've worked hard at creating an employee value proposition that reaches beyond the numbers on the paycheck.

Some improvements we've made include:

  • Increasing everyone's Annual Leave entitlement by 3 days, giving them the gift of more time off.

  • Further enhancing our learning proposition to support everyone to be the best version of themselves.

  • Making hybrid working more fluid, so people only need to come into the office every 2-4 weeks, saving on commuting costs whilst supporting our desire to support human connection.

What I love about this company is that everyone is keen to improve. I was able to get all that done and add a generous bonus to the package as well. At INSTANDA, we have the tools to show that we care, and I think we're a great example of an insurtech business that has tried to do more for its employees. And we'll continue to do so in the future.

We'd like to say thanks to Sara for her time. If you'd like to find out more about how INSTANDA can help your business, talk to the team or try our free demo.

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