Home-to-work commutes are overrated, says Allstate CEO

Tom Wilson headshot

“We found that flexibility really sells,” Tom Wilson said during an exclusive Fortune Connect panel last week. Courtesy of Allstate

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You don’t have to look far to see that workers’ loyalty to their jobs plummeted as they took stock of their lives during the pandemic. Whether they ended up regretting it or not, many chose to step out into greener pastures, joining the Great Resignation. The hiring market has consequently gone haywire and, amid record inflation and seemingly endless layoffs, has yet to return to normality.

At insurance giant Allstate, Chairman, President and CEO Tom Wilson has identified a method to both attract new talent and ensure that existing talent continues to feel valued on such a market: put purpose first and treat every worker as an Allstate customer.

He and his senior team at Allstate made that mindset shift during the pandemic, Wilson recalled during an exclusive interview with Fortune Connect.

“We say, we’re selling you a job. With that job comes professional work, personal growth, some money, and an inclusive environment,” Wilson explained. “And you pay us for it with your expertise, your commitment, your loyalty, your commitment and the extra 10% of the work.”

It’s viewing a job at Allstate through this lens that led Wilson to the obvious fact that still manages to elude countless other Fortune 500 executives: workers want flexibility. At Allstate, that means adding flexibility to its customer value proposition.

“We found that flexibility really sells and, you know, nobody wants to walk into an office to make a Zoom call, and they don’t have to,” Wilson said. “And travel is way overrated.”

Employee centering pays off

Allstate, 66th on the Fortune 500, employs nearly 55,000 people and generates more than $53 million in annual revenue. He is therefore still in the process of fine-tuning the details of his flexible working arrangement. But even as things stand, Wilson’s vocal commitment to employee choice has given the company greater loyalty and commitment at every level, “and that’s making us think differently about where we want to go from here,” he said.

Shortly after the closings, Allstate sold its main campus real estate outside of Chicago, but maintained a significant presence in the Chicago area, said its vice president of human solutions and experiences, Stephanie Roseman. . Employee Benefits News.

“We just wanted to be really purposeful and let the employees figure out what that means,” Roseman said. “We monitor who comes in and when they come in and let that dictate a lot of our real estate plans. We’re trying to make sure that we’re investing in the talent pool so that there are no geographic constraints, while keeping in mind that 76% of our employees are close to an office — we’re are guaranteed to have offices so that we can gather when they want to gather.

Wilson, for his part, embraces the evolution of the workplace. “We really think about creating the future, rather than following trends,” he said. “And I think any business, any person, can do that. You just have to give yourself the means to do it.

To be sure, flexibility is perhaps less of a trend than an indisputably permanent feature of modern white-collar work.

By centering the employee – their preferences, needs, priorities – in all decision-making, Wilson landed on another fundamental piece of the puzzle: purpose. His personal goal is to help other people lead more meaningful and successful lives, he said during his panel. He hopes the same is true for all Allstate workers; purpose, he said, provides company-wide focus, engagement and resilience.

Wilson, a “motivated leader” who views purpose as “a gift you can give yourself and others,” encourages every worker to write down what motivates them. The answer is unlikely to be to walk into an office to be on Zooms all day.

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