Openness and curiosity are key to success

Mar 4, 2019.

We relate to one another as equals, says Jean-Pierre Schmid, Head of Human Resources at Generali Switzerland – immediately proving the point by using an informal style of address. Excitement about the future, passion and personal responsibility are the key qualities he looks for in budding new employees, in line with the corporate culture.

Jean-Pierre, as Head of HR, what do you look for when hiring new employees?

First and foremost, new hires must be a good fit with our corporate culture. Like many other companies, we are currently in a phase of transformation. So we want to attract employees who are keen to look beyond conventional insurance concepts and who approach their work with openness and curiosity. By making our teams as diverse as possible, we can respond even better to individual customer needs.


What should I expect if I come to work at Generali?

I don’t know of anywhere else where you can make such a big difference in such a short space of time. The Executive Board is united in its belief that employees should be empowered to take responsibility and initiative right from their very first day. We give you the chance to contribute your strengths to the team – and to build on them. And we offer a wide range of internal and external training opportunities to help our employees develop their full potential.


Do I have to negotiate my salary?

Our job descriptions feature a salary range (based on the insurance benchmark). So what you earn shouldn’t depend on your negotiating skills, but on how well you meet the requirements for the position. We were awarded the “We pay fair” seal of approval by the University of St. Gallen (HSG) at the start of 2019. It goes without saying that equal pay for equal work for men and women is a principle we wholeheartedly endorse.


How much freedom do I have in carrying out my tasks?

We create an attractive working environment that supports our employees and their individual strengths. Every manager at Generali is required to build a workplace environment that matches the individual employee’s skills and abilities. Managers should provide support where necessary and otherwise trust their highly skilled employees to get the job done.


Would you describe the relationship between employees and their line supervisors as hierarchical?

We always relate to one another as equals. That’s part of our culture. Our understanding of leadership has changed greatly over the last five years. Formerly, a line manager was someone who always knew best. Now, leadership means collaborating with employees to develop a vision for the interdisciplinary team in which they work, empowering them and giving them the freedom they need to deliver the best results for our customers as part of that team.




"We give you the chance to contribute your strengths to the team – and to build on them"



Does Generali believe in working from home?

At Generali, we call it ‘remote working’ and it’s a win-win situation in so many ways. It boosts the motivation and productivity of our employees, and has a positive effect on CO2 emissions. What’s more, by integrating additional groups of people into the labour market, this new work model increases the recruiting potential for us as a company. Early this year, Generali also signed the Work Smart Charter, a nationwide initiative to promote flexible work arrangements.


You come up with a really great idea. Who do you turn to?

I always discuss my ideas with a variety of people. I seek out individuals with the knowledge required to put these ideas into practice. I also consult colleagues whose views are as far removed from my own as possible. I appreciate hearing critical voices as well as supportive comments. From a corporate culture point of view, it is crucial that we give open and direct feedback and challenge one another.


How does Generali create innovation?

Our Innovation Garage opened on the Generali Campus in Adliswil in 2018. The aim was to create a totally new, creative environment, as we can only come up with simple, straightforward solutions for our customers under equally simple and straightforward conditions. It has been a resounding success. In the Innovation Garage, we use human-centred design methods to develop new products and services for our clientele. This is where our own corporate start-up LINGS, which offers on-demand insurance solutions, came into being.


What role does design thinking play here?

We’ve set up three ‘sprint rooms’ at the Innovation Garage. They’re ideally equipped to host a design sprint over several weeks. This is how our new digital Pillar 3a solution came about, for example. We decided on this method as it focuses firmly on customer needs. It’s a human-centred design method that aligns with our ambition to be a life-time partner to our customers. We don’t want to develop a product and then explain to customers why they now need it. We listen to customers, understand their needs and develop products that are fit for real life purposes.