Cignaâs CHRO John Murabito leveragesÂ a data-rich people strategy to driveÂ proactive business decisions.
By Debbie Bolla
âWhat we do in HR starts with the needs of the business.â
Thatâs Executive Vice President and CHRO John MurabitoâsÂ guiding philosophy for the human capital managementÂ approach at Cigna, a global health services organizationÂ that recently acquired Express Scripts. This majorÂ acquisition added more than 50 percent headcount to theÂ already 45,000-plus global workforce. So itâs not surprisingÂ that one of the businessâ top priorities is navigating theÂ change that comes with more than doubling its workforce.
The 2019 CHRO of the Year Award winner explains thatÂ transparent communication has been key in this process,Â along with focusing on company values and an alignedÂ culture. âMore than anything, as we are bringing the twoÂ companies together, the operating model, the structureÂ of our organization, and the selection of key peopleÂ are strong areas of focus in order to get to the bestÂ outcomes,â Murabito says.
He also shares two enablers of Cignaâs talent strategy:Â data and unique employee benefits. Learn more in thisÂ exclusive interview.
What are some challenges that came with theÂ acquisition of Express Scripts and how is HRÂ navigating them?
The fear of the unknown has always been one of the bigÂ human capital challenges when it comes to an acquisition.Â That is a main reason we elevated change managementÂ and communications to the steering committee level andÂ began to focus on it at the pre-close stage. We wantedÂ to be in control of our messages to the organizationÂ so that employees didnât let uncertainty or absence ofÂ information get in the way of productivity. We wanted toÂ be as transparent as possible given the level of uncertaintyÂ that exists during mergers and acquisitions.
The cultural change is also a factor. Cigna is a longstanding,Â proud company with a very distinct cultureÂ that people love and Express Scripts is a newer, moreÂ entrepreneurial company that has grown quickly withÂ its own culture that people are proud of. So we workedÂ with a small team, including an employee advisory board,Â to understand the culture tenets of each organization.Â During this process, we looked for overlap and also areasÂ were the culture was different.
At the end of the day, culture is driven by:
- process; and
We kept those five things in mind to ensure that as we tryÂ to construct the new company, we are using those fiveÂ tools to reinforce the type of culture that we want.
We have been deliberate and informed in our thinkingÂ when it comes to how we approach policies, making sureÂ it wouldnât only be the âCigna way.â We undertook aÂ thorough review of each of the legacy companyâs policiesÂ and benchmarked industry standards as well. From there,Â we put together a best-in-class set of policies, practices,Â and programs to best support our employees. Our cultureÂ needs to support the whole of the new companyânot justÂ the old company. So right up front, we also establishedÂ the values of the new organization. The values are theÂ foundation of what weâd like the new culture to stand for.
Our values are:
- We care deeply about our customers, patients, andÂ coworkers.
- We partner, collaborate, and keep our promises.
- We innovate and adapt.
- We act with speed and purpose.
- We create a better futureâtogether.
We have also done a lot of measuring and surveyingÂ employees throughout the integration process, askingÂ employees their opinions on the merger:
- Are they excited about it?
- Do they understand the combination?
- Is it too much change?
- Can they manage the change?
- Whatâs the level of uncertainty?
- Do they intend to stay?
With the survey responses, we do considerable analysisÂ to help us understand where we have issues and whereÂ we donât. And we address the areas where we have issuesÂ through communication and education.
How does technology help support Cigna’s approachÂ to talent acquisition and management?
The combined company has a rich, strong historyÂ of growing talent through talent development andÂ succession practices. These approaches are going to beÂ more necessary in the future than they ever have beenÂ in the past. As we continue to grow, technology willÂ facilitate the movement of talent across the organizationÂ and provide employees with opportunities to develop,Â learn about different roles, and support their careerÂ progression. Technology gives us a strong end-to-endÂ talent solution that starts with the recruiting process andÂ proceeds through the entire lifecycle of an employee.
How are you leveraging HR analytics to gain insightÂ into your talent? How does the data you have helpÂ advise and guide the business?
Analytics really help guide the work we do in HR andÂ thereâs no question that analytics are a key enabler ofÂ our overall talent strategy. We have an HR analytics teamÂ that is really passionate about data. And what we learnÂ from the data helps us prioritize our actions and betterÂ understand what drives our outcomes.
For example, we use regression analysis of survey dataÂ combined with our HRIS data to understand key drivers ofÂ engagement and retention. This provides the ability to doÂ predictive modeling of turnover data in order to identifyÂ employees who are at the highest risk of leaving theÂ organization. We use these metrics for a basic assessmentÂ of our workforce successes and opportunities.
There are a lot of different elements that go intoÂ âknowledge of when people leave.â Weâve been able toÂ capture that data and link it to engagement survey dataÂ to predict the employees who are at the highest risk forÂ turnover. This is based on common elements that weâveÂ witnessed with others. Some of these elements include:
- current compensation;
- position in their careers;
- time since their last promotion; and
- tenure in other positions or jobs.
This provides the opportunity to share with leadership theÂ fact that they have an employee on their team that fitsÂ the risk profile and could be a potential retention risk. ItÂ has spurred a lot of actions that may have otherwise notÂ happened.
Recently, HR leveraged an organizational networkÂ analysis, which is an analytic tool that helps identify keyÂ influencers across the organization who drive changeÂ initiatives. It provides a blueprint of informal networks ofÂ colleagues in the company and details when colleaguesÂ rely on each other and what they rely on each other for. ItÂ helps identify hidden gems within the organization whoÂ are really the connectors in the company and who donâtÂ always get the attention others might.
How does HR support the business and what theÂ business asks of them day-to-day to move forward?
Iâve always told my team: What we do in HR starts with theÂ needs of the business. In HR, there are always new trendyÂ programs to recommend to the C-suite, but if they areÂ not in support of your business strategy and the deliveryÂ of solutions to business challenges, they are not worthÂ doing. We stay focused on the business, including ourÂ Centers of Excellence (COEs) that provide expert programsÂ on learning, leadership development, compensation,Â benefits, and diversity, and our HR business partners whoÂ are around the world and in the field staying abreastÂ of what the business needs. More than anything, as weÂ are bringing the two companies together, the operatingÂ model, the structure of our organization, and the selectionÂ of key people are strong areas of focus in order to get toÂ the best outcomes. The growth of talent was, is, and willÂ be important going forward. In a growing, service-basedÂ business like Cigna, we are going to win based on ourÂ passion and intellect.
Why does Cigna invest in outside-of-the-boxÂ employee benefits programs and what has beenÂ their impact on attracting and retaining talent?
Weâve tried to have some things that are unique in ourÂ benefits programs that support our employees and theirÂ communities. These programs absolutely benefit theÂ business because they allow us to put forth an employeeÂ value proposition, both for new joiners as well as currentÂ employees. They allow us to attract and retain the mostÂ engaged employees. The âGlobal Stock Awardâ was anÂ opportunity to reward the entire workforce while showingÂ employees how valuable they are to the company and thatÂ we are all owners in what we are trying to accomplish.
The âCaregiver Leave Programâ gives employees peaceÂ of mind that they will be able to care for an older parent,Â a new baby, a military veteran, or an unexpected illness.Â This time off lessens anxiety and stress. Those are directÂ advantages to the business in terms of keeping peopleÂ focused on their work rather than worrying.
The âCommunity Ambassador Fellowshipâ provides upÂ to a three-month leave for community work in areas thatÂ align with our civic affairs and community focus. WeâveÂ had 20 employees take advantage of the program since itsÂ inception a few years ago. We are about to select anotherÂ 12 from about 100 applications. Weâve had employeesÂ do incredible things around the worldâworking onÂ prosthetic hands in Indonesia and Africa, helping in UNÂ refugee camps, funding grants for medical equipment.Â The workforce of today is particularly conscious ofÂ environmental and social issues. Whether employeesÂ apply for it or not, they understand that this CignaÂ program is making a difference. It drives engagement, itâsÂ inspirational, and employees are excited about it.
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