APRIL – adapting the role of a Corporate University

29. Jun 2023 | 9th edition: The re-design of programmes post-COVID

By Véronique Galdin
Directeur développement
RH et Université Groupe April chez APRIL

What kind of changes or developments have you noticed following the pandemic?

Certain trends have become more entrenched over the last two years, which can be seen both in the job market and in applicants’ and companies’ expectations. Following a somewhat wait-and-see approach in 2020 and 2021, we are now seeing an even tighter labour market, particularly when it comes to recruiting people skilled in digitalisation, data processing and new technologies, to which a wide range of other professions have now been added such as actuarial work, trade and commerce, customer experience and relations. This strain is due in part to demand from companies outstripping the supply of trained, available applicants, but also to applicants’ evolving expectations. Over and above seeking a particular position, applicants and staff members now hold greater aspirations in terms of a meaningful corporate mission, societal commitment, skills development, and flexible working arrangements.  Companies must now be more transparent and informative about their strategic ambitions, their values, and their CSR policy, and promote their staff experience even further.

As such, we have been working on our employer brand by bringing our staff to the forefront as company ambassadors and stakeholders in order to show what it is really like to work at APRIL. In addition, applicants inundated via social media, new digital apps and remote requests over the past few years are becoming less responsive to this type of contact, so we need to create more opportunities to meet them in person in the workplace or at events where direct discussions and a human approach can make the difference. This is exactly what we did in 2022, and will continue to implement in 2023, through job dating, evening slots to showcase our professions and meet staff members, events at higher education establishments and CV-free recruitment days.

What kind of training provision do you now offer post-Covid? Is it different from what was on offer before the health crisis?

APRIL has always encouraged skills development and training, and for nearly 15 years our company university has been serving its mission to develop the skills of the group’s staff members. We offer a vast array of training courses, including customer relations, management, communications, effective working practices, and business regulations. Covid did not impact our training provision, which evolves instead in accordance with our strategic and business needs. However, during the health crisis and post-Covid period, we have had to adapt our teaching and learning methods in order to continue developing staff members’ skills, which we have done through online courses and by investing in an e-learning platform.

In addition, over and above technical skills, we place increasing importance on behavioural skills, such as a customer-centric approach, curiosity and the ability to adapt to change. These skills have now taken precedence for all our staff, and they are prioritised across all our training courses.

What are currently the most popular courses?

Although we still offer online learning options, we have largely shifted back to in-person training, a clear preference for staff members, to develop and strengthen ties and increase opportunities to meet in person. Aside from professional training, the most popular courses this year are those on change management, team building, project management and interpersonal communications. In addition to training, we also offer specialised solutions to address individual needs regarding skills development, such as 360° reviews, assessments, coaching, appraisals, and mentoring.

Are there any Covid-related adjustments that you have decided to keep in place?

We are continuing to offer support with working from home, with management techniques to deal with new forms of hybrid working, and following our industrial relations survey, we are continuing to implement action plans within the teams to foster collective commitment to the corporate vision. We have also digitalised some of our HR processes to make them simpler for staff, through new tools to facilitate recruitment, mobility, and annual appraisals, for example. We have been focusing particularly on working conditions and on supporting those staff members who are now looking for greater flexibility and autonomy in their jobs and to develop their expertise.

Has the pandemic changed the insurance world?

Transforming a whole industry and a model without transforming how we do business seems like wishful thinking to me. The insurance industry has been faced with a challenge over the last few years: how to support staff members, whose work will become increasingly automated, towards higher added-value professions. This involves:

  • supporting a transition to new professions;
  • reorganising our activities by focusing on our added-value;
  • innovating to recruit talents who are not insurance natives (especially in the area of data, digital and new technologies);
  • fostering connections and team dynamics while adapting to the need for a flexible, hybrid approach to working practices.



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