Treating employees well equals success for insurance company
Assurance Executive Vice-president, Steven Handmaker believes that treating employees well leads to better client relationships and better company profitability. | Jackie Pilossoph~for Sun-Times Media
1750 Golf Road, Schaumburg
Updated: February 25, 2013 6:19AM
NORTHBROOK — Steven Handmaker is the first to admit that insurance is a pretty boring subject for most people.
That said, the Executive Vice-President of the Schaumburg-based insurance brokerage firm, Assurance, is part of a management team that knows how to make the insurance business fun and fulfilling.
“We treat our organization a lot like a dot com would treat itself,” said Handmaker, who has been with Assurance for eight years, and whose role includes marketing, branding, events and education, “We really believe that engaged employees, happy employees, lead to happy clients and to greater profitability, and we’ve proven that over time again and again.”
Handmaker is referring to the fact that Assurance has been voted best place to work in several publications, including Fortune Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and The Daily Herald.
With its 275 employees, and offices in Schaumburg and St. Louis, Assurance specializes in selling property, auto, liability, and workers compensation insurance, as well as employee benefit programs to mid-sized companies and high-net-worth individuals.
“We have seen the good and we know the power insurance can have to help a business protect itself, to grow itself and to offer outstanding health and other coverage to employees,” said Handmaker, who lives in Northbrook with his wife and two children, “We employ knowledgeable, passionate and creative people, and we spend a lot of time rewarding them for their efforts.”
Handmaker said some of the ways the company thanks its employees is by hosting big, extravagant theme parties. In the past, the company rented out Wriggly Field for a private day of baseball. Assurance also had a party on North Avenue Beach with a sand castle exhibit.
In the office, the management team believes in frequent verbal and written thank you notes to employees. Plus, there’s a café where Starbuck’s coffee is served, and where employees can take a break, socialize or work on a laptop.
“The idea is that the fun parties, the private appreciation, the hand written letters, the phone calls, those are all ways we thank people and they are meant to create career-long relationships,” said Handmaker, “When you hire smart people and you keep them with you, and you keep them feeling appreciated, your clients are inherently better for it.”
Rich McClowry, chief financial officer for Jamerson & Bauwens Electrical Contractors, Inc. in Northbrook, and a 15-year-customer of Assurance said he’s been extremely pleased with the representatives who handle his account.
“We were working with another insurance company before Assurance and we thought they were okay, but as soon as we switched, we realized how much better Assurance was,” said McClowry, “They’re very proactive and they contact us frequently to see how we are and to make sure things are going smoothly, and if there are changes in the law, they make sure we are in compliance.”
Other employee perks at Assurance include career assistance and education, wellness programs, such as yoga, kickboxing and healthy cooking classes, and a shared success program that rewards every employee in the company for the collective success of the organization. For example, if the company meets or exceeds its revenue or new business goals, the entire organization is rewarded.
“Personality and attitude is the heart of our organization,” said Handmaker, “If you’re a manager here and you haven’t creatively thanked your employees each week, you probably haven’t done your job.”
“Our reps from Assurance are constantly supplying information,” said McClowry, “Plus, they fight for us to try to keep our rates low.”