'Culture Club' helps Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina embrace the unknown

Amid a time of transformation throughout the health insurance industry, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) formed the CIO Culture Club as a way to strengthen employee engagement.

Internally, the insurer was undertaking a major IT transformation effort, CIO Jo Abernathy (pictured right) writes in a post for CIO.com. The initiative included shifting employees' roles to that of more technology brokers rather than builders, and BCBSNC wanted to make sure the teams understood the new strategy.

With the slogan "be the change you want to see," the Culture Club specifically wants employees to feel confident when embracing the unknown, and to be active players in shaping the next generation of IT at BCBSNC.

The employee-led volunteer group used human resources partners to help set targets for improvement in future employee surveys. For instance, the insurer's 2014 Employee Engagement survey scores improved greatly as compared to 2012's scores, Abernathy writes.

The club's meetings--all of which are voluntary--are heavily hands-on and rely on employee input regarding topics and guest speakers.

Since its formation, the Culture Club has proven its worth to senior management in sharpening communications, according to Abernathy. Senior management will first ask the club if certain messages make sense, if they're clear and if changes should be made--ultimately, the higher-ups rely on the club's feedback.

"The CIO Culture Club has been successful in building a strong culture of employee ownership, engagement and trust and in making sure that our ongoing communications and events are as effective as possible," Abernathy concludes.

Elsewhere, insurers have tapped into more creative methods to strengthen their internal communications and leadership. Cigna, for example, visited an improv school to partake in business-focus exercises, which it later turned into learning programs to train new leaders and to teach them how to work in teams.

For more:
- here's the CIO.com article