Ability + Curiosity = Success for WC Professionals, NCCI Board Chair Advises

Nancy Grover

Boca Raton, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – A commitment to lifelong learning is critical for industry professionals going forward. That’s the advice from the new board chair of NCCI. Douglas Dirks, president and CEO of Employers Holdings, Inc., says the world is changing and the insurance industry is evolving. Those who have curiosity will be the most successful.

Dirks was the latest workers’ compensation thought leader to participate in an Industry Roundtable with NCCI president and CEO Bill Donnell. He focused on the power of advanced technology in decreasing the volatility in the insurance cycle, and how automation can help improve efficiencies and workflow in the workers’ compensation industry.

Declining premiums due to declining loss costs means fewer workers are getting hurt, and those who do are getting better treatment and returning to work sooner, he said. The workers’ compensation industry can keep up with the changes taking place by being ‘nimbler.’

“I believe it comes down to data analytics and the power that technology has given us — the ability to deploy more sophisticated pricing algorithms and get real-time data,” he said. “The industry no longer has to wait for an end-of-the-month or end-of-the-quarter report to understand where results are headed. That’s a dramatic change.”

Technology also can help bring the next generation of workers into the insurance industry. Robots, artificial intelligence, and other technologies will take over tasks that require less cognitive skills, allowing human workers to better use their skills.

“I view robots as potential business partners, not worker replacements,” Dirks said. “If a machine can do a task, why not let it, so we can focus on more vital aspects of our roles? That’s how we solve the talent challenge — by enabling seamless handoffs between machines and people. Companies that do that well will win.”

Individuals in the insurance industry can win by accessing education to stay ahead of changing trends.

“They say that the next generation of professionals will have eight different careers over their lifetime. Not jobs — careers. You could have eight different careers within the same company because it’s possible to do that in insurance,” he said. “If you have ability coupled with curiosity, you’ll thrive. Those challenging moments when you’re in a new or different role is when you’ll learn the most. Never quit and keep learning forever.”

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