Aflac: Transforming People to Innovate the Business
By Teresa White
Companies continue to set new standards across industries when it comes to innovation. From voice-enabled technology that instantly plays music and answers our questions to evolving ride-sharing services that transform travel, consumers’ expectations are now higher than ever. It’s only fitting that companies continue trying to provide more valuable, personalized experiences.
Our Innovation Focus
So how does Aflac fit with this trend? Aflac isn’t a company that
believes in business execution without innovation. As the country’s leading provider of supplemental insurance, we recognize that our customers turn to us in their times of need, and as a result, we continue to look for ways to make their Aflac experience as positive, seamless and personal as possible.
To deliver the best overall customer experience, we have implemented a variety of technologies that enable policyholders to receive information through a flexible platform at a moment’s notice. However, while implementing various technologies like robotics, mobile apps and live chats, we have also learned in recent years that we cannot and will not maintain long-term success without our well-trained employees.
Upskilling Employees for the Future
In the past two years, we began using robotic process automations and software programs to mimic and repeat activities humans typically perform, including paying claims, processing invoices and accelerating services for customers. Our use of artificial intelligence (AI) has done more than just improve our customers’ day-to-day experiences. It has enhanced the value of our employees by enabling them to spend less time doing mundane tasks so they can focus on higher-level work. We believe activities for which humans are naturally proficient cannot and should not always be automated.
Humans have innate abilities to provide empathy and build relationships with customers and employees. They use deductive and creative reasoning to solve complex problems. Bottom line: Aflac knows that transformation and automation is the way of the future.
That is why we are investing significantly in training programs through our career development centers to help upskill employees today for the jobs of tomorrow. We know jobs will go away, but that should not mean that our people should go away with them.
A Culture of Advancement
Technology isn’t the only thing that has evolved in the workplace. So has the workforce itself. I’m proud to have seen firsthand many of my female colleagues evolve and advance their careers, growing into larger roles within our company. Today, women represent 66 percent of Aflac’s workforce, many in leadership positions. It has been gratifying to see so many of them climb to higher roles where they can more fully demonstrate their skillsets.
One person who comes to mind is Brenda Mullins, who started her career as a license specialist and has evolved into her current role as vice president and chief people officer. Throughout her career at Aflac, she took advantage of available growth opportunities. She credits the support and encouragement of others for helping her achieve that progress, now serving as one of our most valued and respected employees.
Another example is Mary Daniel, who joined Aflac as a customer
service specialist in 1995 and, through her own hard work and dedication, now serves as second vice president of U.S. Operations Strategy. She credits her constant learning for the rapid advancement of her career, an approach that has led her to understand what drives our company, the key factors that determine business decisions and our vision for the future.
Similarly, Melody Burton began her career with us in 1980 as an administrative assistant in the financial division. She became the first individual at Aflac to attain a Certified Professional Secretary designation and has continued to advance in her career. She’s held leadership positions of increasing responsibility in several areas of the company. She has led our field liaison office as a vice president and today is chief of staff to the U.S. director of sales. Continued education about our company, she says, has fueled her tremendous growth.
These women are part of the larger innovation story at Aflac: the
transformation of people as the company progresses into an ever evolving world. And these transformations, along with many others’ stories, will continue to have as great an impact on our company as any technology ever will.