Narrator: Finding a sense of purpose in your work is critical to how fulfilled you feel. Think about when you felt needed, when you made a difference, when you were satisfied with a job well done. You’re more likely to enjoy starting work every day, and to stay in a position longer. And when that sense of purpose is reflected in your company’s mission, that’s a recipe for success. And something Quique Huerta knows a thing or two about.
Quique Huerta: I have felt more energy in my career when I, I have been transforming the way, the culture of the organization and making, making their culture more human centric. So more focus into the, into the, into the people. And at the end of the day, we spend so many hours in our companies that, eh, we need to build the best environment possible for, for all of our people. And I really feel the, I really feel that energy when I feel that people come to work, eh, happier, that they feel that they have an, a special meaning in what they do.
Narrator: Quique is the Global Employee Experience Officer at Liberty Mutual Insurance. And he’s a true veteran at the company, having served in various leadership roles for over 20 years there, 15 of which were in Spain. While in Spain, he served as CEO for five years. And Quique is sharing how to align individual purpose with the company vision.
On Cruising Altitude, we talk about employee experience lessons from leaders at companies with over 30k employees. A lot like reaching Cruising Altitude at 30k feet, things look a little different when you’re managing 30,000 people. On this podcast, we bring you insights from the leaders who inhabit that rarefied air. Today’s episode features an interview with Quique Huerta. But first, a word from our sponsor.
Quique Huerta: My team purpose is creating a better place to work for all of our employees at Liberty, by improving the moments that matter most to them. How do we do that? Eh, well, first we listen to our employees and we try to understand their sentiment, the way we hide behind how they feel the way they feel. Second is acting, is taking actions to improve their experience globally in cross functional initiative and co-creating with, with our employees. And third is transforming our global processes and digital experiences. And this is a long version. I have a shorter one that I like to use that is, uh, is advocating for our employees and bringing their voice when, when, uh, the seasons are made. So we, we, we bring their, their voices and their discussions in the tables when we are taking the decisions and we try to, to take those, those, uh, those sentiments, those opinions into account when we are taking decisions.
Narrator: Everyone has boarded and we’re taxiing to the runway. But before we take off, let’s take a broad view of Quique’s role at Liberty Mutual Insurance in The Flight Plan.
Quique Huerta: We have 45,000 employees around the world. So our scope is all of them. Eh, 35,000 more or less are in U.S., 10,000 outside U.S. Eh, we have some products that are, that are for, for all of them that are some of them that are more, um, adjusted to their specific, eh, operations. But, but in general, we tried to understand the sentiment across the board. And sometimes the acting is a little bit more, more local, eh, but again, even in the local way, we try to bring, uh, global resources, global products that can be used, eh, across the board.
Actually, I have worked already 27 years in my life. And 22 of them has been in Liberty. So has been an amazing journey. And eh, and I can say that I have worked in, in very different positions in during these 22 years. So in operations, distribution, eh, talent, technology, eh, pricing, marketing. So you can name it. I will say almost in every, in every role and eh, most of the time, especially at the beginning in our Spanish operation, when I became the CEO or the company in 2011 and I was leading our Spanish operation for five years. And then I move into transformational roles at our corporate level. I moved to U.S. in January, 2018 with my family. So I was there three years and a half. And then I came back to Spain last summer, but I am still doing what I was doing in U.S. in our remote, eh, way. Uh, so, uh, has been really, really great journey. And I will say the reason why I’m still in Liberty after so many years is because that I have always received the support to grow and develop personally and professionally. And I have also felt the support to make things better, to check to challenge the status quo, and also to work with purpose. So it’s, it’s, it’s really important that we can match our individual purpose. That is something that you discover when you get older, probably with the company purpose and is actually what I’m doing now is it’s a perfect, perfect match between my individualized purpose and, and what they’re called the company is pursuing.
It’s a discovery process. It’s not something that one day you wake up in the morning and say, ‘Oh, I know already what is my purpose.’ But I have felt more energy in my career when I, I have been transforming the way, the culture of the organization and making, making their culture more human centric. So more focus into the, into the, into the people. And at the end of the day, we spend so many hours in our companies that, eh, we need to build the best environment possible for, for all of our people. And I really feel the, I really feel that energy when I feel that people come to work, eh, happier, that they feel that they have an, a special meaning in what they do.
Narrator: Quique says there are misconceptions about the insurance industry.
Quique Huerta: I would probably say that the biggest one is that insurance is a boring industry, maybe compared with, with others, but, but I will say that you won’t find any big trend out there that is not part of our day to day. So you can name it. Eh, artificial intelligence, IOT, I dunno, uh, start up. We work a lot with a startup customer experience. So all of that are part of our day to day. And you can really find very different trends that are in the, in our economy that we really, we really face all of them. And also, I would say that we have a strong commitment with ESG that is also very, very critical, eh, in, in our strategies, uh, our, in our industry, climate change is super relevant. It’s very, very relevant. So. Eh, it is something that is very in our, in the way we, we, we manage and at the heart of our business. And, and also in, in the S of the ESG in social, the, D and I and philanthropy is also very, a very important part of our, of our strategy and our DNA.
Narrator: And he says there are challenges to influencing the employee experience in his industry, but he wouldn’t exactly say those challenges are unique.
Quique Huerta: At the end of the day, people are people in, depending on the company and industry they, they work for. And it is interesting because we have been working during more than a year to identify what are the moments that matter the most to our employees. And we have confirmed something that we thought before starting the process, is that those moments are quite universal. So, having, having said that the level of importance and the level of satisfaction you need, so the moment can be different by country, by tenure, by managerial position versus individual contributor or by race, by gender, by someone working in the front office versus someone working in the, in the back office, So it is, it is important understanding those differences and personalizing the solutions. But at the end of the day, the moments are the same. And we were, we were doing a quite extensive research with more than 1200 employees are, are around the world. Uh, we were like collecting all their main experiences that they were having in Liberty. And, eh, it was very consistent. And eh, so these, I will say from people to people, so. Uh, it’s, it’s, it’s important to understand those differences in, in well, in Liberty and in general in insurance, probably there are another two things that I would like to highlight that probably are also common in other industry. One is, is change. So, how quickly things evolve in our society, in our economy and customer needs. So all those things make us feel that journey through change has become a such important moment for our people that we need to keep on focusing on how to manage change, how to manage transformation, from an employee point of view, too. Um, so change to me, was coming very strongly from the moments research that we, that we did and is, is something very, very important. The second one, the second topic that I would emphasize is the connecting, or having a meaningful work and, and it’s connecting the company vision with the individual purposes. In insurance I think that we have a very noble purpose. And, um, probably we should try to continue to explain it better, but we are helping people to feel more confident and to embrace eh, tomorrow. And it’s something that is, is part of our purpose and what we do. And, and it is very important to connect what all of our employees are doing in their day to day with that a company purpose.
Narrator: Thinking back on his 27-year-long career, Quique says he’s had some great experiences.
Quique Huerta: Probably the proudest one, eh, was when I was leading the Spanish operation. Uh, we work in the cultural transformation, eh, to be a more human centric organization. Um, uh, it was, so what was interesting of the process is that it was very very participative process. There were some, some things, some days that would, you will arrive into the, to the office and the employees were doing things that you didn’t even know. And it was great to see the energy. Also, sometimes we were having fun, but eh, it was something that it was really happening across the board in the organization that, that transformation. And we finally, in the last day that I was the CEO of the company, we received the, the award of being the best company to work in, uh, Spain. So it was a good way to, to leave my, my position. And it was not really about receiving an external recognition. It was more really feeling how proud our employees were about the company and how they were feeling their connection between their, their day to day, and our purpose has as a company and the sense of belonging that, that, that they had. So it was, uh, really, uh, a wonderful experience, but I, I don’t want to put all the emphasis at the end of the experience, but during the journey. And so the journey was really fun. Sometimes bumpy, sometimes we were feeling that we were not making enough progress. When we were doing a lot of things, we were not seeing the results, but cultural change takes time. So you need to be resilient. You need to be persistent. And, uh, we were able to keep on pushing for what we were believing and I think it really pay off and, and, and our people were really feeling very proud of being, of being part of, of our company. And, uh, so it was a great, a great experience.
It was 2011. And I remember when, when I knew that I was going to be the new CEO and, eh, I was talking with our talent leader and some of the other leaders that were going to be part of the team. And a, uh, we discussed that from the very beginning, we need to make very clear to all the employees that what we were trying to achieve was equally important than the how. So it was the values, the way we want to do things was equally important that what we wanted to achieve. Um, so is something that we tried to insist, uh, very, very much into our narrative and the way we were explaining to our employees what we were going to be doing. And then three years later, we start working on the ‘why,’ on the purpose, on defining the purpose for the organization. And it was interesting because in 2011, I don’t know if we were able to define exactly or discovering our purpose. So probably it was more, more difficult and it took a little bit of more maturity in their company to be able to work on the, on the why, But they, the why discovery was, eh, also very, very important. And at the end of the day that your, your why your purpose needs to be consistent to the way you are. So it’s is more a process of discovery. One of the last step to be really great was like defining for the company, our purpose, and then connecting that, that company purpose with the individual one. The corporate purpose, that, eh, that is, is like our North Star in the company. And I, I think is, is, is critical for, especially you want to create that magic that is connecting the individual purpose with the company purpose, is you need to have a clear definition and a, and a good explanation to your employees about your, ‘why’ about why you do things and an a so I, I really love the purpose discussion and it’s something that is, is, is really, really critical for, for me.
Narrator: Alright, now that we’re settled in our seats and know the layout of Quique’s role, feel free to explore the in-flight spa options because you’re in First Class.
Let’s hear Quique’s advice for a fabulous employee experience.
Quique Huerta: Flexibility has been always part of our DNA. Uh, and, eh, we already have people fully working from home before the pandemic, uh, or in a hybrid approach. Work at home, life balance and flexible work arrangement are very important moments for our employees. So it is something that we were doing, but we were really doing the right thing because that was and is very important for, for, for our employees and the feedback of our employees in what we are doing, eh, is, is that we are doing a great job. Usually when we ask employees opinion, it’s one of the things where our employees are, are telling us that we are doing a better job. And it’s one of their best things about working at, at Liberty. So it was really connecting what the employees wanted with what we were providing to them. And it’s very important for the employees to feel heard and valued and trusted, and all those things were part of the, of our, of us advocating that, that practice for, for so many years.
Narrator: Quique has different tools to measure how well the digital employee experience is going. When his team was researching what moments are important to employees, they took a three-step approach.
Quique Huerta: So, eh, the first step was qualitative, eh, workshops that because of COVID, we were doing virtually, but it was eh, 1200 employees in a lot of different workshops around the world. Once that we collected their sentiments, we were doing something that we call the call discovery process, where we put together 80 leaders, managers, and employees around the organization to try to, to create, uh, a framework around all, all the sentiments that people were telling us in the qualitative, eh, approach. Um, um, finally we, we had our quantitative surveys to all the employees in March last year when we were validating the framework that we created. And, and also we were asking them about how important and how satisfied were they with those moments? We grouped the, the moments in nine different moments and that had different touch points. And, and this is how we are going to be like tracking, uh, our people’s sentiment moving forward through, through those moments, through those interactions that they have told us that are the most important for them in terms about how they feel in the, in the company.
Narrator: But overall, he has three best practices he suggests as an employee experience leader.
Quique Huerta: I would say that the first one probably, eh, was listening regularly to them and using their feedback in the decisions we were, we were making and, and they felt heard and trusted because of that. And I can give you some examples of that later. The second one will be, we had a more personal way of communicating and more frequent than ever. So that was another thing that was very critical. And connection, the third one will be connection. We were really, eh, tracking how our people were, eh, feeling connected during the pandemic. And we, we saw that, especially the connection with their managers improve quite a lot during the pandemic. Was interesting because in connection, we were tracking two different things, connection with their managers and connection within their teams. In connection with their teams, we were seeing more challenges. But in individual connection with the managers, eh, people were feeling really positively. Um, and they, they felt that their managers were connecting with them more often, more personally. So there was a human connection there. And they were see seeing really an empathetic connection. And, uh, so we, it was something very, very important how our people felt. So it’s, it’s another best practice that was really happening. Uh, we were, we were giving some direction, but I, I will tell you that a lot of that was happening organically. So really the managers behaving, eh, in that way was something that it was coming, coming from them of course the company needs to give some kind of support and everything, but it was, it was great to see that a lot of that, therefore were coming very organically within the organization.
Narration: Quique is always working to support employees, but it’s not always easy. Let’s talk about the Turbulent side of employee experience.
As with all companies, the pandemic shook things up at Liberty Mutual Insurance.
Quique Huerta: It was very important to listen regularly to our employees. And, and this was especially important during the pandemic because their concerns were evolving. So at the beginning, of course, the first week was very hectic about ensuring that everyone had the resources, the technology to fully work from home and all those things. The process was very quick as we already had some people working from home. We have most of the infrastructure, but we needed to move everyone. So it was something quick, but immediately we started to think what was more relevant for employees at that moment, and what we could do to support them. So I remember that we launched a first, eh, survey at the end of March, uh, to all the employees globally, when we were trying to validate what was more relevant for them at that moment. And, and taking that into account into the first, eh, set of decisions that we were, we were taking us as an organization. We put together some cross functional things to, to try to work on, on, on some or those, eh, things that were more relevant for them. And, eh, so, and that, that was the, that was the beginning. So I will say the most important thing to us was really understanding at each moment what was more relevant for employees and trying to take that into account when we were, when we were taking the decisions.
One very important thing was not, not only listening to employees, but doing that in a segmented way. So it was only not understanding how those priorities were changing over time, eh, but also segmenting their analysis and their solutions were critical, too. For example, we were, segmenting or seeing that there were things, eh, not equally relevant for caregivers, especially non caregivers, um, where we were having, eh, issues in their schooling. And so how we could be supporting, eh, our, our parents, our caregivers, working at home with their families there, with their kids there. Eh, it was very important, and we were like a deep diving into their sentiment and trying to see, eh, what, what we could be doing differently for them. There were other things that we were discovering also during the pandemic. So like the sentiment from, from managers could be different than the sentiment for the individual contributors or front office employees versus corporate employees or people in, of course in, in Asia versus people in Europe. So there were really different situations, and it was important to understand those differences because sometimes you were taking decisions for everyone when it was not equally important for all of them. So we were trying to personalize, eh, when possible some all of those solutions.
I will say that with 45,000 employees is difficult to satisfy or to have solutions that work for everyone at the, at the same time. And, uh, we will probably need to segment 45,000 times what we were defining for the 45,000 employees. Uh, and, and also, eh, when, when you are implementing, improvement in your employee experience, this is a process that never ends. So employees keep on raising the bar. So you are doing something, you are doing better, but then you need to keep on doing better is something that, that never, that never, never, never finishes.
Probably one of the main challenges that we have had. And it was difficult to do otherwise because at the end of the day, it happened more as uh, at that team level is the connection within the team. Their connection with their managers in improve during the pandemic. But their connection with, with the team was more challenging.
One thing that we saw for example is that you have more, eh, connectivity moment within that, the team, the satisfaction with their connection, eh, improve, but at the same time, there are some employees that there are so many connection activities, it could go against the other things that they want to do. And not everyone has the same level of connectivity desire. It is very important to understand everyone in your team and trying even at that team level to, to customize what you are, what you are doing or proposing to your people.
Narrator: Quique has a few parting tips for other employee experience leaders at big companies like Liberty Mutual Insurance.
Quique Huerta: The very first one that comes to my mind is work with purpose. This is the typical role that you, you need to do it because you really believe on it. So you wake up in the morning and you say, okay, I, I working in the, on this, and this is real important, eh, for the organization, for every person in the organization. Another one that is important is exercising and influencing muscle, because at the end of the day, the experience is something built by a lot of people every day. And it is not in my team actually. It’s the managers, the leaders are building the experience every day. The talent practices are building that experience. They communication teams. So we are, we are a small team that try to influence others to take into account what is more relevant on how our people feel and trying to prioritize things in the organization that are more relevant for them. And sometimes to do that, you need to use more, the influence that the power and it is very important that as part of the, the work that you do. You’ll have that influencing muscle, that it is important to, to, to exercise and, and doing it. And the third one probably is being resilient. So change takes time. Uh, cultural transformation takes time. Building a great experience takes time. So you need to be persistent. You need to be resilient. You need to really believe in what you are doing. And sometimes, you will go quicker. Sometimes you will go slower, but, but eh, you really believe in the purpose is something that it will fulfill you and, and all your people.
Narrator: So finding and believing in that shared purpose is crucial. It will unite you and your employees, and drive you towards your mission. Having that direction, intention and ambition is the powerful combination needed to carry any company into the future.
Thank you for listening to this episode of Cruising Altitude. This episode is brought to you by Firstup, the company that is redefining the digital employee experience to put people first and lift companies up by connecting every worker, everywhere with the information that helps them do their best work. Firstup has helped over 40% of the Fortune 100 companies like Amazon, AB InBev, Ford and Pfizer stay agile and keep transforming. Learn more at firstup.io