One Pay at a Time

‘Happy Equal Pay Day!’

You can just file that straight away under things you will probably never hear a woman say on April 4th.

Equal Pay Day was founded in 1996 to raise awareness about the disparity between men and women’s pay. Did you know that Equal Pay Day falls on a different day each year? It’s because the date is determined by when a man would have to start working in order to make a woman’s salary for that year. And that is one big chunk of time off.

But this day isn’t just important to women – it’s important to all of us. In Australia in 2015, women made up 45.6% of all employees. In 2016, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that women were still earning about 83c for every $1 a man earns. For young women just starting out in their careers, those few cents are especially important. Over the years they can add up to hundreds of thousands of lost dollars for women.

Pay

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So there’s still a lot of work to be done. The first step, says the report, is providing men and women with equal opportunity in education and training.

‘Policies ensuring women have more equal access to science, technology and health care training, targeted initiatives to encourage career development and pay negotiation, and programs that support care for children and the elderly can help address some of the root causes.’

At FT Adjusting, equality in the workplace is one of the values we cherish. However, it’s also the case that men far outnumber women in the loss adjusting industry and in the insurance industry in general.  For most workplaces, pay disparity is the elephant in the room that needs to be solved before anything else. It’s time to stop short-changing women.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Happy Hour

We’re about to turn over a new calendrical leaf, and hasn’t the start of this year just flown by! It’s almost time to say a teary farewell to the month of March, with its grey Sydney skies and unusually high amount of rainfall. And if the weather’s been getting you down and disturbing your productivity in the office, you’re probably not alone.

Luckily, the delightful realm of the internet is full of advice for situations just like these. Apparently, hidden beyond the cat videos and ‘dank’ memes, there also exists helpful life-hacks for creating a better workplace environment. A list of top tips has been compiled by Inc., and here’s a few of the best:

Light It Up

Productivity

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It may sound too good to be true, but psychologists say that ample access to sunlight can have a positive impact on an employee’s well-being. Throw open some windows, or even take a walk in the sunlight during your break. If that’s not an option (I’m looking at you, Sydney weather), try and shotgun that window desk. Studies show that employees who sit near a window show higher levels of productivity and are more motivated. Moving your co-worker’s possessions while they’re on a lunch break probably won’t win you any brownie points though.

Bring Sprinkles To Work

Productivity

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That’s right. Your eyes are not deceiving you. As well as helping employees relax and lifting the mood in the office, bringing your pet to work can also be advantageous for customer perceptions of the business. With Fido around the office, the company image is not only softened but is also more likely to be seen by customers as forward thinking and progressive.

Have A Snooze

Nap

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We’re not talking about bludging off here. Psychologists say that twenty to thirty minute naps allow employees to recharge and boost productivity. While most offices might have a long way to go, companies like Yahoo! actually encourage employees to visit local spas and sleep in private rooms, with aromatherapy and recordings of nature. Yes, really.

More tips for productivity and happiness include creating an office fitness program, listening to white noise and extending your goals to include work, family and personal life. So there you have it! Feel free to include those tips in the next office email or leave them surreptitiously placed around the office.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

Millennials are an elusive and enigmatic breed. You may have seen some in their natural habitat around The Grounds of Alexandria or pouting behind a selfie stick. But what do we really know about Millennials? For one, they seem to have an unhealthy obsession with smashed avocado, hipster cafes and anything made with soy. They also have a puzzling reluctance to enter the Sydney housing market. Ahh, nothing like a bit of generational scorn to get you through to the weekend…

This blogger is, admittedly, a Millennial through and through. Aside from the crushing student loan debts and crippling realisation that I may never own my own home, I can say that it definitely felt good to have a shelf full of participation trophies as a kid. But that’s not all folks. Apparently Millennials are predicted to have a greater impact on the insurance world than previously thought.

Millennials

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According to a report from Insurance News, Millennials will have a fundamental impact on product development in the insurtech (insurance technology) landscape. But how? I hear you ask. Well, it’s related to the ‘always online’ tendencies of Millennials and the expected change in consumer demands.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission warned that ‘not all the consequences of fast-moving technologies and digital disruption are positive for the people it aims to protect’. This makes the rise of insurtech a virtual inevitability. According to the report, technological innovations such as artificial intelligence, peer-to-peer insurance and robo-advice are likely to result in dramatic changes in the nature and type of risks covered. Changes in the relationship between insurers and policyholders will also likely occur.

Millennials are rarely seen without a phone in hand or internet enabled device within reach. As technology increasingly governs our lives, there may also be ‘issues concerning the use, ownership and protection of data.’

You heard it here first, baby boomers: although we may never own property or appreciate the value of hard work, we know you’ll be looking to us for tech advice pretty soon.  At least in the insurance world that is.

Words by Skye Jamieson

March Madness

It’s been a great start to the month of March with a flurry of activity in the insurance world. But what exciting events and changes lay ahead in the near distant future? Allow yourself to relax as you gaze deep into this crystal ball…

Crystal Ball

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With reports that the Australian economy has once again dodged recession with a reported 1.1 per cent growth in the December quarter, that’s good news for businesses all over Australia.

And while 1.1 per cent might not seem like anything to write home about (much less write a blog post about), insurance brokerage giant Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) believes a market turn is imminent as the company itself reported a profit rise, writes Insurance Business. JLT predicts that the implementation of President Donald Trump’s new infrastructure policies will bring a boost to the building sector. In addition, JLT believes stable oil prices and a reduced cost of exploration are sure signs of an inevitable turn in the market.

So despite the dreary weather we’ve been having in Sydney this week, it’s time to break out the sunglasses because the future is looking bright! Here at FT Adjusting, I for one can strongly predict the event of pizza arriving at the office in the near future.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Water Cooler Conversation

It’s only my second day in the office here at FT Adjusting and I’ve already developed a slight attachment to the water cooler in the corner of the office. Like the animals in the African savanna, us office-dwellers have long been drawn to the nearest water source for refreshment, particularly when the air conditioning has been overworked in the heat of the Aussie summer.

Elephants

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For many years conversation around the water cooler was the perfect opportunity to ponder life’s unanswerable questions (like why on earth did Apple remove the headphone jack?) but with the rise of social media the office bulletin boards have been reduced to measly 140 character tweets.

And with the rise in social media use in the office, reports Insurance Business, comes a higher risk of cyber breaches in the workplace. Insurance Business believes that human error is one of the most common causes of cyber breaches. Yikes.

With mandatory breach notifications recently passing through Parliament, Lennon* noted that he expects to see the cyber insurance market continue its growth over the course of 2017 as businesses learn that cyber risk is an issue that reaches far beyond the IT department.

With this prediction we can expect to see even more ridiculously complicated password requirements. So stay hydrated, folks, maybe the water cooler isn’t so old school after all.

*Nick Lennon, country manager at cyber security firm Mimecast.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Hot-Desk or Not-Desk?

Why do people commute for an hour a day to sit in an office for five days a week? Our Director, Ian, gets out and about as part of his job, but many people spend their days in open-plan offices and at hot-desks. Ian doesn’t equate either of these things with productivity, so when I asked him to elaborate on hot-desking, he was happy to do so – and to provide his honest opinion about it!

What is hot-desking?

Imagine there’s a room, and it’s got desks in it. You turn up to work at, let’s say, nine o’clock. You just find yourself a space on a desk – and you work in it. You may have a locker, or a box with all your stuff in it. But you don’t have a specific place to sit.

Man with box at desk

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Why do it?

A lot of companies want to improve their productivity. One thing they do is allow people to work from home. But if you’ve got a large organisation and you know that a certain percentage of your employees are going to be at home, then you can cut down your office space. Rather than allot somebody a space for a five-day working week, you say, ‘We need ten per cent less space because we know ten per cent of people are going to be out of the office on any one occasion.’

It’s like airline companies overselling the number of tickets on planes, knowing there’ll be a number of cancellations. If everyone turned up there’d be a problem – but they know, statistically, that that won’t happen (though, occasionally, it does).

People working opposite

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Why NOT do it?

You’re never going to get one hundred per cent productivity, but people figure that it’s better to take the hit because they’ll get a better saving on rental and overall running costs. My own view is that this is very cynical. From the studies I’ve seen, hot-desking (and open-plan) don’t work – or at least, they don’t work as well as giving somebody a quiet office.

Particularly with hot-desking, there’s no ownership of where you’re sitting. That’s encouraged some people to turn up early so they can have the same space every day. They used to say (if you go back and read about open-plan offices) that you needed to make a space your own: put up photos and such. And there’s a psychological thing when you sit with your back to an open space – you may not realise it but, subconsciously, you won’t feel that comfortable. If people were saying in the ‘80s,‘90s and ‘00s that you should privatise and personalise your space, where does that leave hot-desking? If it was recognised that open-plan had a problem, hot-desking must have a bigger problem.

But it doesn’t seem to be acknowledged… does that mean it’s because the people who drive these issues don’t normally sit at hot-desks?

Opinions by Ian McWalter; words by Jenny Ryan

Size Matters

FT Adjusting is made up of seven loss adjusters, one cadet, one office manager and one social media manager. As far as businesses go, that’s pretty small! You can imagine that things run a little differently here compared to other places. So here’s Zack with his own personal perspective on how our workplace differs to larger ones.

FT itself operates in a very different manner compared to other adjusting firms. A lot of them want to get as much work as possible, whereas we are very specialised; we don’t try to sell something that we’re not. For instance, we don’t go to insurers and say that we also do property adjusting. No – we specifically do engineering and construction.

Office directory

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Other adjusters typically have marketers who organise events and try to get as much engagement with insurers as possible. We still go to the market and talk to people, but we do everything ourselves. Other people can say whatever they want about how good their company is, but is he or she going to do the work? The claims people want to see who actually handles it.

Big corporate companies just seem so segmented. There are managers for almost everything, and sometimes you don’t even know what they do! Weird but true. Some offices can have a state manager, office manager, head of department… there are so many different layers of management involved. It gets messy very quickly because, no matter what you do, you almost always step on someone’s tail. It’s just corporate politics. You don’t get that here. Here it’s more diplomatic – or is it a dictatorship?!*

Opinions by Zack Mun; words by Jenny Ryan

* It’s not a dictatorship. Phew.

Where are the Women?

It’s hard to get an accurate figure for how many women work in loss adjusting right now. Open Universities Australia reckons they make up 37.6% of the current workforce, but an old Insurance Times report paints a far grimmer picture. Our Director Ian is well aware that loss adjusting lacks women – and it’s not just our office, but the industry as a whole.  

Women at computer

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I had a conversation with somebody the other week.

They asked me, ‘Do you try and get women to come and work for you?’

I said, ‘Yes… but we can’t bloody find them!’

Nowadays in insurance companies, about sixty per cent* of claims departments are women. In loss adjusting, it’s still only less than ten per cent. And in construction it’s probably even less. Think about it: how many women in construction do you know? How many women builders? You can see how difficult it would be to get women involved in construction loss adjusting. There are a few geo techs, and a few in environmental science. But most of them are in ‘support’ roles – admin.

Woman talking

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I see very little prospect of many more women coming into loss adjusting. Tragic, isn’t it? Loss adjusting itself is difficult enough to get people into. It’s got a few women, but I just don’t see it altering in the near future. We’ve tried – more so than probably a lot of people. You just can’t get them. They’re not interested.

But we would like to get females into the business. We may have to look at a wider context to be able to do that…

Opinions by Ian McWalter; words by Jenny Ryan

* Statistics based on Ian’s industry experience.

Mountain of Youth

Generally speaking, loss adjusting is not the youngest profession. Here at FT, we’ve got our own group of wise guys, but we’ve also got a few spring chickens – and perhaps the springiest of them all is Zack. So when I went in search of a target muse for a new blog post, his office seemed a good place to start. Here are his thoughts about age gaps in loss adjusting.

Loss adjusting is an old-ish profession, in the sense that – right now – most of the people who are in it do a lot of work and are well known. They’re well established and many are in their advanced years. So there’s actually a big gap between the really experienced adjusters, some of whom are close to retiring, and the next generation.

Seedlings

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What I’ve realised working with bigger corporate companies is that they appear more concerned about reaching targets. They would rather spend money to bring someone from the UK or US to head up an office, rather than invest in someone new to lead or work in the company. They don’t appear to put a lot of emphasis on training: they would rather get someone experienced, and then market them so they get the work.

At FT it’s different, because Ian’s big on education and always passing on the knowledge to the next generation. Maybe it’s because this company is smaller, but big corporate companies – from my perspective – don’t really value people. There’s no new blood, and even if there is, they come in and crack under the pressure from the amount of work and lack of training.

Overworked

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From my perspective, it’s just how they’re structured: they’re always chasing their targets and when the next report is due and whatnot. They have so much to deal with that they don’t have the time to spend training or doing something that’s not considered productive. Even though it is, because you’re investing in someone. So that’s what Ian’s doing: investing in the younger guys to pass it all on.

Opinions by Zack Mun