Yesterday, the Swiss Federation of Mediation Associations (SDM) has awarded Baloise Insurance the 2020 Mediation Prize for its mediation management system, which is firmly rooted within the company. “Increasing connectivity, higher complexity and ever-faster work processes demand constant adaptation of us. Such change processes open up new opportunities for us in our everyday working practices, yet also inevitably pose challenges. In order to effectively utilise these challenges as resources, make quick decisions and efficiently develop potential solutions, Baloise has been successfully implementing mediation-based communication techniques in everyday working life for around ten years now. I am therefore extremely pleased that Baloise has been recognised for its hard work in this area,” states Adrian Honegger, Head of Group Strategy & Digital Transformation at Baloise.
Mediation empowers people to work together in a focused and efficient process to find feasible, equitable solutions across all hierarchy levels and departmental boundaries; this breaks down impediments to the flow of information. In this context, mediation is as much an attitude as a form of communication – one that helps all parties to grasp the interests of the other party and to use this mutual understanding to develop options that benefit the company as a whole. This requires that both sides actively listen, and the ability to paraphrase one’s needs, pose unambiguous questions and give constructive answers. In this way, it becomes possible to discuss a disagreement or an obstacle – within a project, for example – in a respectful manner and thus move away from entrenched positions towards the best possible resolution. “This resolution strategy empowers every employee to take more responsibility and communicate more successfully in both their private lives and the workplace, thereby making complex systems such as Baloise more robust as a company,” is how Adrian Honegger, a qualified mediator since 2002, summarises it.
A pool of experts that facilitates new forms of collaboration: in order to consolidate this mediation know-how within the company, Baloise has been offering its employees mediation training since 2011. 60 employees have become qualified mediators since the initiative was launched, who have participated in thousands of retrospectives within Baloise itself as well as being requested to take part in a large number of management meetings and team and individual coaching sessions and to act as workshop leaders.
As part of the Investor Day 2020, Baloise presented its new strategic phase, “Simply Safe: Season 2”, and its ambition to expand the principles of agile working to encompass the entire company. In this context, agility must be viewed less as a method and more as an outcome-oriented focus that is based on the corporate culture and the attitude of individual employees. The aim is to reduce the time it takes to create value. Key pillars in this approach are the transparency of information – who is working on what, and with what priority – as well as decentralised responsibility-taking, empowering employees to make decisions. A mindset centred around mediation is a prerequisite to developing and embedding this form of collaboration within a corporate environment. The greatest challenges faced in this transformation are the changes in roles and tasks within the company. This also falls within the scope of Baloise’s mediation management system, which supports employees in learning how to work and communicate in this new way.