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For the first-ever HRMAC Extraordinary Team Award, the Awards and Recognition Committee celebrate how teamwork can lead to business success.

HRMAC member Allstate Insurance Company saw no greater example of this than the recent (in 2017) formation of a cross-functional team aimed at devising a strategic approach to the growing problem of cybersecurity personnel shortage – a group which CSO estimates will shrink drastically by 2021.

“One of the foundational components [of our team] was getting smarter around what we were going to be up against in the external market,” said Sharon Garcia, senior manager of strategic sourcing and recruiting. “From the get-go, we leveraged our market intelligence around the skills we were looking for to really give us insight into where the talent was already sitting, and then shaped a talent acquisition strategy around that.”

Building and retaining key talent is a constant challenge for companies of all shapes and sizes, and Allstate is no exception. To tackle this project, the internal taskforce was comprised of team members from Business HR, Talent Acquisition, Broadbased Compensation, Cyber Security Senior Leadership, Cyber Security Education and Communications, and the Program Management Office. In addition to this stellar internal group, Allstate employed an external consultant for the project. Working together, some of the many accomplishments of the team include:

  • Filled over 200 positions and counting, including eight hard-to-fill executive roles
  • Launched a “Cyber Security Community of Practice” to educate all employees on cybersecurity best practices.
  • Increased employee retention significantly over prior year

“One of the ways this team differentiated itself was focusing on measures not only within HR but for the business and Allstate customers,” noted Robi Nevers, HR business partner with Allstate who nominated the team for the award. “Many members of the team had to juggle existing responsibilities while building out new processes and tools to achieve results. By looking beyond silos, this team demonstrated leadership, innovation, and high performance.”

Tips for Team Building

So what are some of the lessons learned by Allstate that you can apply to your organization?

Open Communication – Regular meetings between the Talent Acquisition and Cyber Security leadership teams led to efficiencies that would not have been possible had either team been resistant to open, and constant, communication.

“There was so much transparency and visibility that when there were issues, there were no surprises,” noted Dave St. Clair, vice president security operations. “The question wasn’t ‘go fix this,’ it was ‘what can do and how can I help?’ That really opened up a wide range of doors.”

Vision – Allstate Cyber Security staff size grew dramatically over the last two years, which required a lot of change management and strong leadership. The vision of the team, in building its “future state of the organization structure,” necessitated expansion of the Cyber Security division from one VP to one Senior VP and four VPs; all but one VP role has been filled. The team worked both internally and externally to fill the roles and make the vision a reality.

Collaboration – The biggest hurdle the team had to overcome was role clarity and their definition of success. By building these objectives upfront, a true community mindset was created, which helped trust and collaboration to foster over time.

“This team broke down silos and took a team approach to work collectively across HR and the business to meet the objectives,” concluded Nevers. “They held each other accountable, but had each other’s backs.”