Gearing up for the Games: Capturing the Essence of Our Allianz Spirit through the Olympic and Paralympic Partnership

May 27, 2021 • 5 min read

Gearing up for the Games: Capturing the Essence of Our Allianz Spirit through the Olympic and Paralympic Partnership

Kara McLeod

Kara McLeod

As the Worldwide Insurance Partner of the Olympic and Paralympic Movements from January 1, 2021 until December 31, 2028, Allianz is building on a collaboration we have enjoyed with the International Paralympic Committee and wider Paralympic Movement since 2006.

As a company, we share the core values of the Olympic Movement – excellence, friendship and respect, and the Paralympic Movement –  courage, determination, inspiration and equality and we’re excited to care and deliver for athletes, their families and their ambitions.

We’re on the very eve of launching our new employer value proposition, which means we’ve got an opportunity to truly connect and integrate the messaging from day one

It’s early days for us, but we’ve got eight years to bring it to life. And one thing’s for sure: it’s not just about slapping the logo on everything, dusting off our hands and thinking ‘job done’. As an employer branding leader, I couldn’t be happier with the cards I’ve been dealt! We’re on the very eve of launching our new employer value proposition, which means we’ve got an opportunity to truly connect and integrate the messaging from day one.

That kind of alignment doesn’t happen every day, right? And it starts with winning the hearts and minds of our own people first.

People connect with people

I appreciate that not everyone is a die-hard fan of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Yet the spirit of the Games is more than just being about sport; it truly transcends it. They engender a sense of nationalistic pride that starts the moment you see your country team walk into the stadium during the opening ceremony. What people connect with is people. Their highs, lows, wins and losses. Their heartache, their glory, their passion and their determination.

Which is why last year, when everyone felt the damaging impact of COVID-19 and we all understood what it was like to have plans disrupted, to deal with a new reality of what you could and couldn’t do, something that connected us all was the tremendous strain on mental health and wellbeing.

In our 2020 internal engagement survey, 89% of employees agreed favorably with the statement: ‘I am proud to work for a company partnering with the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee.’

With the postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, we deeply empathized with the athletes and sought to give them a platform to share their personal stories of resilience and how they were working to overcome barriers that COVID-19 presented in their world. It was a privilege to share in their moments of raw vulnerability.

It also aligned with the efforts we were taking to care for our own employees, the outreach and support we were providing our customers and the considerable research and thought leadership we’re driving from our workers’ compensation division around mental health.

Through every lens and at every level, our Olympic and Paralympic Partnership made sense to our people and our customers. In our 2020 internal engagement survey, 89% of employees agreed favorably with the statement: ‘I am proud to work for a company partnering with the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee.’

The ‘Allianz alliance’

The goal of our global team is to create ‘one’ employee experience for all Allianz employees worldwide. This is complemented with the desire to empower teams locally to drive initiatives that raise awareness, foster engagement and create a celebration.

The first major milestone around this partnership was our Global Celebration Day on the 4th of February, to commemorate the Olympic & Paralympic Movements internally. It also marked one year to go to the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

The global team ran a series of virtual events that all employees worldwide could participate in and celebrate our Olympic and Paralympic Partnership together. These included ‘Train with an athlete’, a partnership talk with Allianz, the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee associates, an athlete story and a global CEO interview with an Olympian.

We have also launched a health app called ‘Well Together’ to enable cross-border, cross-team challenges.

Bringing in employer branding

At a local level, I’ve been working with a multi-disciplinary teams across HR, marketing, brand and corporate comms tasked with raising awareness of the partnership and helping our customers, employees and candidates connect to what the Olympic and Paralympic Movements mean, by creating initiatives that promote, inspire and engage.

Our goal is to link our existing strategies around engagement, inclusion, mental health and wellbeing with the opportunities that the Olympic and Paralympic Movements provide us.

Throughout 2020, we brought athletes together with our people in truly heart-warming, jaw-dropping, tear-jerking and inspiring sessions.

Building a tangible connection between Allianz and the Olympic and Paralympic Movements to inspire our people

Throughout 2020, we brought athletes together with our people in truly heart-warming, jaw-dropping, tear-jerking and inspiring sessions. We had Madison de Rozario (Paralympian, 1500m and Marathon) talk at our International Women’s Day event and we listened to Dani Di Toro (Paralympian, Australian Paralympic Co-Captain, Table Tennis) talk about her mental health journey and to celebrate International Day of People with a Disability we heard from a panel including Annabelle Williams (Paralympian, Swimming) and Brendan Hall (Paralympian, Swimming).

Events like these worked to create real-life comparisons and analogies between the world of an athlete and the world of an Allianz employee. We were all able to draw learnings from the ways in which elite athletes train, team up, manage their health and wellbeing, build resilience and perform at such a high level.

The stories and lessons told through the lens of a high-performing athlete we respect and admire, helped us to understand them differently. We saw how they could be applied to our own personal and professional lives. That is the power and the impact of connecting with athletes!

The incredible impact on our brand

From a brand awareness perspective, this partnership is fantastic. Even if you don’t know the Allianz brand, our partnership immediately conveys the spirit of our company, mirrored in the Olympic values of friendship, respect and excellence, and Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality. 

There’s an enormous brand halo-effect of trust, integrity, purpose and quality. There are only 15 companies bestowed this partnership honor after all!

On an employer brand level, it’s all about connecting on an emotional level and tapping into how it makes our people feel to be part of a company that is closely associated with the Olympic and Paralympic Movements. For most employees, their day job isn’t going to be suddenly ‘olympicised’ (yes, this is the term!). Instead, the differentiator is that powerful emotional connection people feel about what the Olympic and Paralympic Movements stands for.

Joining a company that is an Olympic and Paralympic partner means having the privilege to bear witness to sporting history on a very up close and personal level

It’s wanting to be part of a company that imbues that spirit. A company making it possible for athletes to train, to travel, to participate. Supporting athletes in their journey to representing your country on the biggest sporting stage in the world. This is what it feels like to be an Allianz employee right now, and it’s a pretty amazing feeling.

Joining a company that is an Olympic and Paralympic partner means having the privilege to bear witness to sporting history on a very up close and personal level; to live and breathe the Olympic and Paralympic spirit and to feel hugely proud to be part of something so much greater than ourselves.

‘Drinking the kool-aid’ is often bandied about as the reason employer branding wins hearts and minds. Well, in our case, we are taking long, slow sips from the Olympic and Paralympic flavoured kool-aid while standing on the shoulders of giants.

About the author: Over the last 20 years, Kara has enjoyed being part of the employer branding movement and shaping its future. Kara is currently the Head of Employer Branding at Allianz, she is passionate about pushing brands out of their comfort zone. She believes it is truly an honour to innovate and transform brands and therein lies the spark behind why she has spent the last 20 years working in this space!