How Employees Drive Change at Perr&Knight

Authors: Jason Hudson and Karen Daley

We firmly believe our achievements as an insurance advisory and actuarial consulting firm rest squarely on the shoulders of our talented team members. For 27 years (and counting), we have continued to seek out and develop innovative, experienced and engaged professionals to bring industry-leading support to our clients. Just as our talented team members add value and drive change at our clients’ businesses, they drive change in internal operations at Perr&Knight as well.

Measuring Employee Engagement

In 2015, the diverse group of team members on Perr&Knight’s Employee Development and Appreciation Committee recognized the importance of employee engagement and the need to measure it. They created a comprehensive 60-question survey to obtain honest employee ratings, feedback and insights across nine categories: communications, social connection, career/professional development, management training, company vision/services, work/life balance, fairness, performance & accountability/feedback, and compensation. The survey is comprised of positive statements about Perr&Knight to which the employee responds how they feel, i.e. Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree or Strongly Agree.

Here is a sample of some of the positive statements contained on the survey:

  • Information and knowledge are shared openly within Perr&Knight.
  • I have been provided clear direction/feedback on how I can advance my career at Perr&Knight.
  • People of all cultures and backgrounds are respected and valued at Perr&Knight.
  • I have a clear understanding of how my department’s goals and objectives relate to corporate goals and objectives.

Each of the positive statement response options is assigned a rating from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly Agree). By assigning ratings to the responses, we’re able to aggregate results and score Perr&Knight in each of the nine categories. The survey is anonymous, but contains some demographic questions related to tenure, experience, working location and management level. So, in addition to calculating an overall score, we can calculate and compare scores by demographic group.

Making Informed Changes

Once the survey is completed, the aggregated scores by question, category and demographic group are shared with the principals of our firm. Because Perr&Knight has issued the survey every September since 2015, a history of the scores is shared as well.

Over the years, the survey results have been very informative – low-scoring categories have helped us realize where we need to focus more attention. For example, lower scores in the management training category resulted in the roll-out of online management training last year. Similarly, less than optimal scores for a question about senior leadership communication prompted the Employee Development and Appreciation Committee to host quarterly principal communications. One year, the scores by demographic revealed a potential engagement issue amongst our long-tenured staff, prompting one-on-one check-ins to seek more detailed information from that group.

The history of scores has also helped us see the impact of our initiatives. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of our workforce has been working from home, which was a big change for our staff who primarily worked in our offices previously. Though we’re all physically dispersed, company management has made a concerted effort to help employees feel connected to one another through company-wide virtual activities like online games, virtual holiday parties and monthly birthday celebrations. The scores of the 2020 and 2021 surveys showed this effort is worth it, as our social connection score increased year over year.

Each year, company management reviews the scores and responses then shares the overall results with all employees, including our score by category, change in score from last year and common themes from the responses to open-ended questions. We explain that company management will use the results of the survey as a guide when developing initiatives and setting priorities for the coming year. In this way, our employees know they have made an impact.

Evolving Our Approach

The Perr&Knight employee survey is constantly evolving. We review the survey’s questions and make minor tweaks every year. Over the past six years, we have expanded the engagement survey to 90 questions. We recently changed the “Fairness” category to “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” with the aim of identifying and addressing any DEI issues within our organization.

We also added open-ended questions to provide opportunities for staff to share their thoughts. Some examples of open-ended questions are as follows:

  • How can social connection be improved within Perr&Knight?
  • How could Perr&Knight’s company vision be more clearly communicated?
  • If there was one thing that you could immediately change about Perr&Knight, what would that be and why?

While the numerical scores to the positive statement questions help us evaluate how we’re doing, the open-ended questions are a source of inspiration. We are fortunate that our smart, creative staff members are willing to share their ideas, as we are always happy to listen.

Employee engagement is a characteristic of a thriving insurance consulting firm. At Perr&Knight, we are not content for our employees to simply be “comfortable” or “satisfied.” We want our teams to be truly engaged in the work they do and proud of the company they represent. In addition, valuing our employee’s opinions and providing a safe space for all to share their diverse perspectives will continue to be hallmarks of Perr&Knight’s culture as we grow and serve the industry. As such, we plan to survey our employees in the future so they can continue to drive change. 

Interesting in joining the team at Perr&Knight? Visit our Careers page and browse our open positions.