Business challenge

To drive service quality and nurture innovation, Hiscox aims to ensure all its people are satisfied and motivated. How could it uncover opportunities to boost employee engagement across the company?


Hiscox uses IBM Kenexa Survey Advantage to start a conversation with its global business—enabling it to rapidly and accurately identify areas for improvement at the level of individual departments.



employee participation in the survey delivers valuable insights


action plans boost enablement and help employees thrive


engagement and inspires higher employee performance

Business challenge story

Engaged employees drive growth

Whether your business is a small startup or a multinational enterprise, delivering outstanding customer services depends on one thing: your people.

Laila Gillies, Human Resources Manager and Global Employee Engagement Leader at Hiscox Group, takes up the story: “In the last decade, Hiscox has grown substantially. Today, we have a significant presence in major markets around the world, including Europe, Asia and North America.

“To nurture customer loyalty and attract valuable new business, it’s essential that we continue to deliver the high-quality services that our clients have come to expect, and foster innovation and creativity. We operate in a competitive space, and we see that higher employee engagement translates directly into better services for our customers.”

She continues: “When you’re a small business with a startup culture, it’s easy to answer important questions such as: ‘Why have our results gone down in this department?’, ‘Are our people overworked?’ and ‘Do people have confidence in our leadership?’. As our business grew, it was becoming more difficult to gain insight into employee motivation and identify changes we could make to improve their engagement.”

Like many leading insurers, Hiscox uses engagement surveys to find ways to help its employees to thrive—but its previous approach meant analyzing the results was a complex and time-consuming process.

“Our survey questions lacked clarity, and this made it difficult to interpret employees’ responses accurately,” says Gillies. “In fact, it could take up to a quarter of the year to analyze the survey data and determine what it was telling us. In many cases, we were still unsure whether below-average scores were in areas responsible for driving engagement. To gain deep insight at enterprise scale, we looked for a fresh approach.”

Our people are the key to our success—and engagement insights are helping us cultivate the working environments they need to perform at their best.

—Laila Gillies, Human Resources Manager, Hiscox US and Global Employee Engagement Leader, Hiscox Group

Transformation story

Gaining accurate insights faster

To solve the challenge, Hiscox uses IBM Kenexa Survey Advantage to take the pulse of its global business.

“When it came to selecting a new survey platform, we were looking for two key things: valuable insights and ease of obtaining those insights,” recalls Gillies. “We wanted to get accurate, insightful information on employee engagement quickly and easily, and with IBM Kenexa we realized that we could achieve exactly that. The solution surfaces the key drivers of engagement for each survey population at the touch of a button, which shows our leaders the specific areas they need to focus on to lift engagement on their teams.

“Better still, the combination of clear questions and advanced analytics in IBM Kenexa enables us to interpret the results of the survey much faster than before—enabling us to start taking action rapidly.”

Working together with IBM, Hiscox developed an engagement survey tailored to the unique requirements of its business. In addition to quantitative questions, the survey includes free-text questions, which enable the company to use qualitative feedback to inform and enrich its interpretation of the survey data.

“Getting written responses helps us find out what employees perceive as the barriers to thriving within the organization, and makes participating in the process a more engaging, personal experience,” Gillies adds.

Hiscox evaluates its survey results from multiple organizational perspectives. At the global level, the company’s executive team identifies common themes in the results from across the organization, and uses the insights to shape the priorities for the year. At the local level, human resources personnel identify actions for specific functions and departments, and run focus groups to gain additional feedback where necessary.

Gillies continues: “Our collaboration with IBM has always felt like a partnership—and that still holds true today. We are extremely impressed with the IBM team’s ability to analyze and present information, as well as the breadth and depth of their expertise. Whenever we have a question or want guidance, we know that the answers we need are only an email or phone call away.”

Results story

Putting analysis into action

With IBM Kenexa Survey Advantage driving its new approach to employee engagement, Hiscox is cultivating the working environments that its people need to thrive in their roles and deliver industry-leading services.

“In the past, it would often take three whole months before we were able to even think about building action plans based on the survey data—but today, that’s all changed,” says Gillies. “We can now analyze the results of a survey and start discussing the results with the business in less than a month, 75 percent faster than before.

“Because we get the results of our surveys so much faster, we can set and review our action plans every quarter. Embracing a dynamic approach to setting and measuring goals helps us keep the momentum of the survey going throughout the year, and helps us clearly communicate the changes we’re making.”

By taking action based on the specific drivers of engagement for each part of the business, Hiscox is succeeding in producing engagement scores in the top quartile of global organizations year-on-year.

“Our philosophy is ‘good is not good enough’, and we’re always looking for new ways to help our people perform at their best,” says Gillies. “For example, our latest survey helped us identify diversity and inclusion as a key focus area, and we are driving initiatives to increase gender diversity across all levels of the business. These action plans include running unconscious bias training sessions for all our recruitment managers, as well as launching a group-wide Women in Leadership Program.

“One of the greatest benefits of our new way of working is the ability to measure the impact our actions have from year to year. When we saw that some of our departments were dissatisfied with their work/life balance, we implemented flexible working arrangements globally —and those departments have seen some of the highest engagement score improvements on our latest survey.”

Gillies adds: “Courage is one of our core values, and we believe that honestly reporting the results of the survey is a powerful way to give our people confidence that their voice will be heard and action will be taken as a result of their feedback. We are consistently achieving 90 percent response rates for our engagement survey—which reflects the high value that our people see in participating.”

Based on its success with IBM Kenexa Survey Advantage, Hiscox is already planning for the future.

“Analysis can only take you so far: it’s commitment from the top level of the business that makes your engagement initiatives a success,” says Gillies. “Looking ahead, we want to increase accountability for engagement across all levels of the business and build on our culture of continuous feedback.”

She concludes: “An engaged workforce buys into your vision and works harder to make it a reality. Our people are the key to our success—and engagement insights are helping us cultivate the working environments they need to perform at their best.”

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About Hiscox

Founded in 1901 and headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda, Hiscox is a leader in specialist insurance. Employing 2,100 people worldwide, Hiscox provides protection and peace of mind for its clients through high-quality insurance products covering a wide range of personal and commercial risks.

Solution components

  • Kenexa Survey Advantage Engagement

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