As we begin a New Year, it’s a natural time for reflection and planning. However, in an industry where change is constant, charting a path forward is not always easy. At the outset, we recognize some familiar challenges: the economy, fraud, political polarization, climate change, and disruption from new technologies like AI. At Alliant National, we’re approaching 2024 rooted in our enduring commitment to care and service for our agents, innovating from this foundation to enhance our responsiveness and support in an evolving industry.
Your growth and success are central to our mission. That’s why our prime focus this year extends to enhancing many of the resources and tools at your disposal. We’re committed to evolving and improving our underwriting practices, providing the responsive support you need to confidently navigate the market’s complexities. Our educational programs are poised for expansion. Moreover, we are engaging in several key initiatives to expand our services, including:
SecureMyTransaction: To help our agents combat the growing challenge of real estate fraud, we introduced our robust identity verification system – SecureMyTransaction – last year. In response to your valuable input, we’ve upgraded the system with advanced features like 3D image verification and expanded global reach, now validating ID instruments from 200 countries. To learn more, check out the SecureMyTransaction website.
Expanding Title Searches: We’re now offering quicker, more efficient title search services. Integrated with leading platforms such as Qualia and RamQuest, our aim is to streamline your processes, reduce risks, and ultimately, enhance your profitability.
Embracing AI and Innovation: We’re not just keeping up with technology; we’re leading the charge. From implementing artificial intelligence in operations to partnering with the University of Colorado on groundbreaking projects, we’re committed to bringing the future of real estate services to you.
This year, we recognize the uncertainties but also see the immense possibilities. It’s a time to invest and innovate where it makes sense, while continuing to provide the excellent service you’ve come to expect from the Alliant National team.
As we move forward into the year, your thoughts and feedback are invaluable to us. If there’s anything we can do to help make 2024 more successful for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, your agency manager, or any member of our team. We are all here to support you. Together, we’ll make this year one of growth, success and positive change.
Creating an inclusive workplace is a complex task. After all, people are anything but simple. None of us have merely one “self.” Every person is a mixture of intersecting identities that influence how people see us and, conversely, how we see them.
How, then, can a business foster an inclusive workplace, particularly around the holidays? As Stacy Stolen, HR Manager at Alliant National, explains, it requires being mindful of how our biases shape our perceptions while working toward a culture where everyone can be recognized and respected. I spoke with Stolen on the complexities of this work, what Alliant National is doing to promote inclusivity, and takeaways for agencies looking to build inclusive workplaces during the holidays and year-round.
Inclusivity begins with empathy
When asked how she defines inclusivity, Stolen said, “Simply put, inclusion and being inclusive is to have empathy,” adding that, “at a company-level, it takes developing a shared understanding that we all have our own unique experiences that occur within a society filled with inequalities.”
Once this understanding is established, productive work can begin. “We can then start to relate and learn from others. This is important because empathy allows us to humanize one another and feel responsible for everyone’s safety and well-being. We can positively influence our surroundings and ensure everyone feels seen, validated, and heard – even if we don’t directly relate to everyone else’s experience,” Stolen said.
Easier said than done
What makes this easier said than done, however, are social constructs and the unconscious biases they produce. Identity composes a wide range of attributes – from race, sexuality and ethnicity to education level, family of origin and belief structures. Some of these identities, said Stolen, carry more power in the world than others. Depending on how someone identifies, they may find themselves unjustly stereotyped by the dominant power structures of society.
Building an inclusive workplace, then, necessitates building a culture where people can feel safe and supported enough to interrogate their biases and push back on the inclination to stereotype. A first step involves simply accepting that such biases exist and that typically we have little opportunity to reconsider our ingrained beliefs. As Stolen explained, “Quite often, we interact with folks who look, feel, act like us, or have identities roughly like ours. Therefore, we can’t do anything aside from perpetuate these stereotypical beliefs about folks in other social groups. That’s because we aren’t being exposed to anything different to dismantle these inaccurate ideas. We need to break this cycle and cultivate mindfulness to expand our idea of what collective community looks like.”
It also involves seeing this work as more of a journey rather than a destination. “This work requires consistent and intentional engagement with yourself and others that you interact with daily,” said Stolen. “Just like anything else you aspire to change in yourself or in your environment, you must commit that same time and effort in showing up as an ally and advocating for necessary change.”
So, what does this look like in practice? Stolen noted that Alliant National’s commitment to building an inclusive workplace involves investing in culture awareness training and dialogue. Additionally, in the New Year, the company is launching an internal committee dedicated to ensuring that its priorities are considered through an inclusive lens.
Stolen described how these efforts are not viewed as one-offs by the company. Instead, they are part of a continuous, holistic and ever-evolving move toward a more inclusive culture. This is an important feature of Alliant National’s larger goal of being a workplace where every employee feels comfortable bringing their authentic self to work and can:
Remain present even when uncomfortable;
Accept that we are all part of the problem and must work to change society for the better;
Learn how to empathize with others’ experiences that are different from their own;
Make mistakes while striving for a better tomorrow;
Educate themselves and those around them; and
Not expect those with the least power in society to do the brunt of the work.
How to promote inclusivity during the holidays and everyday
Holiday periods are a perfect opportunity to promote an inclusive culture, Stolen noted. For many, holidays are informed by cultural identity. It is important to be mindful around language and emphasize respect for all regardless of individual beliefs. “Just because you don’t celebrate certain holidays doesn’t mean that you are exempt from being aware and educated on holidays and religious practices that others celebrate,” Stolen observed.
Of course, there are many other ways to build inclusivity year-round, including:
Researching histories of marginalized groups and investing in cultural awareness development.
Developing ally programs/affinity groups and creating places for folks to find community and to encourage dialogue around challenging topics.
Hosting “Lunch and Learns” that expand cultural humility and awareness. Alliant National, for example, recently hosted one titled, “Challenging Stereotypes and Microaggressions.”
Surveying your workplace to better understand understand your company’s culture better and find opportunities for improvement.
There is no time like today
Building an inclusive culture takes work; there is no doubt about it. But as the holiday season continues, there is no better time to begin nurturing greater respect, empathy and belonging in the workplace. Stolen noted that when companies commit time and resources to encouraging inclusivity, great things can happen. “Workplaces that commit to inclusivity become more instrumental to their employees, customers and communities.”
Longmont, CO — (November 15, 2023) — Alliant National Title Insurance Company, the title insurer that is uniquely responsive to the needs of independent agents, proudly announces that it has been certified by Great Place To Work® for the sixth time.
The Great Place To Work certification is based on what current employees say about their experience working at Alliant National. This year, 99% of employees said Alliant National is a great place to work – 42% higher than the national average. In addition, 100% of surveyed employees said that when you join Alliant National, you are made to feel welcome.
“Great Place To Work certification is a highly coveted achievement that requires consistent and intentional dedication to the overall employee experience,” said Sarah Lewis-Kulin, the Vice President of Global Recognition at Great Place To Work. She emphasizes that certification is the sole official recognition earned by the real-time feedback of employees regarding their company culture. “By successfully earning this recognition, it is evident that Alliant National stands out as one of the top companies to work for, providing a great workplace environment for its employees.”
“Alliant National is deeply committed to supporting independent agents and the communities they serve. To deliver on this commitment, we’ve built a culture that is rooted in empowerment and a sense of belonging for all our team members,” said David Sinclair, President and CEO of Alliant National. “We strive to create an environment where every employee feels valued and can realize their full potential. Being certified by Great Place To Work for the sixth time is both gratifying and humbling. I want to thank our entire team for their efforts in building a workplace we can all be proud of.”
According to Great Place To Work research, job seekers are 4.5 times more likely to find a great boss at a certified great workplace. Additionally, employees at certified workplaces are 93% more likely to look forward to coming to work, and are twice as likely to be paid fairly, earn a fair share of the company’s profits and have a fair chance at promotion.
Alliant National supports its independent agents by combining expert residential and commercial underwriting with a passionate heart for service. The company delivers uncommon help that promotes the well-being of agents and the communities they serve.
Alliant National is on a mission to empower independent agents while protecting property owners with secure title insurance. The company partners with its agents and never competes against them with direct or affiliate operations. Alliant National serves thousands of title professionals as a licensed underwriter in 32 states and the District of Columbia.
Great Place To Work® Certification™ is the most definitive “employer-of-choice” recognition that companies aspire to achieve. It is the only recognition based entirely on what employees report about their workplace experience – specifically, how consistently they experience a high-trust workplace. Great Place to Work Certification is recognized worldwide by employees and employers alike and is the global benchmark for identifying and recognizing outstanding employee experience. Every year, more than 10,000 companies across 60 countries apply to get Great Place To Work-Certified.
About Great Place To Work®
As the global authority on workplace culture, Great Place To Work® brings 30 years of groundbreaking research and data to help every place become a great place to work for all. Their proprietary platform and For All™ Model helps companies evaluate the experience of every employee, with exemplary workplaces becoming Great Place To Work Certified™ or receiving recognition on a coveted Best Workplaces™ List.
Thanksgiving is a touchstone for reflection, gratitude, remembrance, and a celebration of the gifts we have received. And, although we aspire to be grateful every day, this holiday is a wonderful reminder to pause, take a deep breath, and give thanks.
The past few years have been marked by unprecedented challenges, including world conflicts, a wildly unpredictable US housing market, the emergence of unregulated title products, and a notable increase in fraud. In the face of those obstacles, we have borne witness to your dedication to serving your customers and communities. Your perseverance and fortitude have been a source of inspiration for me and all of us at Alliant National.
I am truly grateful for the progress we have made together this year. For instance, in this month’s #allnatadvantage newsletter, we learned how the team at Florida’s Brick City Title helped stop a fraudulent cash purchase transaction. Brick City and several other agencies have been recognized this year for their fraud prevention efforts under Alliant National’s Crime Watch program. Their actions are a reminder that daily vigilance is key.
We are also grateful for the agents working with us on our new SecureMyTransaction identity verification product, which we announced in August during our Florida Seminar. Together, we are making significant strides in maintaining the integrity of transactions and protecting consumers.
In both big and small ways, we share an unwavering commitment to helping others realize the American Dream. On this Thanksgiving, I extend my deepest appreciation for your heart of service and gratitude for your partnership with Alliant National.
Stress can impact anyone, and workplaces are not immune.
It can be easy to minimize the impact of stress on individuals, but given how ubiquitous and harmful it can be, it’s worth taking seriously. With the real estate season heating up, let’s take a deep dive into stress, address how it shows up in the workplace and look at what organizations like Alliant National are doing to support workers.
Stress: the lesser-known facts
When you break stress down, what exactly is it? On a basic level, stress is the body’s response to a demand, the impacts of stress can be acutely felt in the workplace. Any change – good and the bad – can technically be stressful.
There are so many important things to know about stress, but some of the lesser-known facts include:
Stress affects everyone,
Not all stress is bad,
Long term stress can harm your health,
There are ways to manage stress, and
If you feel overwhelmed by stress, it’s important to reach out to a health professional.
Where does stress often show up?
While stress can be anywhere, it frequently pops up in workplaces. Stacy Stolen, HR Director for Alliant National, explains that this can have significant consequences for employees. “Workplace stress has adverse effects on workers’ mental health, with an increased risk of anxiety, burnout, depression and substance use disorders,” said Stolen. “Workers who are stressed at work are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, and poor dietary patterns.”
The negative consequences of stress aren’t just limited to employees. It can affect businesses as well. “It decreases employee productivity,” says Stolen. “Interactions with co-workers may become strained, causing increased conflict, more complaints and grievances, health concerns and higher absenteeism.”
Reducing stress begins with awareness
Given how serious stress can be, it’s obvious that there needs to be increased cultural awareness around the topic. And according to Stolen, some things are moving in the right direction: “It has become more acceptable to ‘talk’ about stress,” says Stolen, “but companies are still struggling to manage workplace stress – especially where recent layoffs may have created more stress and burnout. Companies are starting to realize this, but perks like onsite gyms and nap rooms are not the answer to our problem. Companies must go deeper.”
How can workplaces better address stress?
So, what does it look like when workplaces get serious about addressing stress? For Stolen, it means digging into the psychological reasons that are driving a stressed-out employee. “If your employees perceive your workplace as a threat, then you cannot build the trust your team needs to collaborate and innovate effectively,” she said. “Employers need to shift from individual-level to organization-level approaches for reducing stress at work, which can foster employee well-being while simultaneously improving business performance.”
Some may be quick to say this approach is unrealistic; but rest assured, it’s not. As Stolen explains, “My years of experience have taught me that burnout prevention requires reducing workplace stress while also upping employee engagement.”
What is Alliant National’s approach to stress reduction?
Under Stolen’s leadership, Alliant National has put together a plan of action to help reduce workplace stress. While the company has not yet achieved every goal, it is making good progress toward lowering the amount of stress percolating throughout the organization.
One initiative that has been making headway is the Alliant National Employee Engagement team, which is designed to help “employees feel engaged, fairly compensated, rewarded, and personally committed to and inspired by their work.”
Another goal is to actively create a culture where employees not only feel that it is permissible – but encouraged – to take time off to rest and recharge. Part of that involves constantly reminding employees that they have the freedom to take breaks, take their accrued PTO, pursue a flexible work schedule or ask for help in managing their stress.
Stolen is also working on a mental health “challenge,” where she reaches out to managers to ascertain if their direct reports have run up large PTO balances. The intention behind this initiative is to get a better sense of whether team members are actually using the time that they have earned, and if not, to understand why. This upcoming mental health and stress reduction challenge follows on the heels of one conducted in December of 2022.
There is no magic bullet against stress; but progress is possible!
When asked about how she herself manages stress, Stolen was candid: “I have no secret sauce, but what I have learned is that I need to unplug and be able to tell my boss when I am stressed and need help – not so I feel weak, but so I can be good to myself.”
In many ways, this is an effective summary of how we can all get better about managing stress in our lives and particularly in the workplace. There is no magic bullet, but with understanding, trust and open communication, real inroads can be made toward achieving more sustainable and healthy levels of stress.