Falvey Insurance’s Nelson helps ensure a bright future for employees

OPENING DOORS: Falvey Insurance Group Chief People Officer Roxanne Nelson created an internship program three years ago that has produced new employees within the insurance industry, including two now working full time at Falvey. 
PBN PHOTO/TRACY JENKINS
OPENING DOORS: Falvey Insurance Group Chief People Officer Roxanne Nelson created an internship program three years ago that has produced new employees within the insurance industry, including two now working full time at Falvey. 
PBN PHOTO/TRACY JENKINS

2023 C-Suite Awards
Midsize Private Company: Roxanne Nelson | Falvey Insurance Group chief people officer


EMPLOYEES UNEXPECTEDLY RESIGNING. A global health crisis. Other employee-related matters. Many aspects of a professional setting can change in a blink of an eye.

It is part of Roxanne Nelson’s daily life at Falvey Insurance Group as the North Kingstown-based insurance agency’s chief people officer. But even with regularly confronting those challenges, Nelson says she finds it “deeply rewarding” to watch employees grow both as people and in their careers.

One of many employees who rose through the ranks at the agency, Nelson joined Falvey Insurance 23 years ago as a secretary. She held other positions and is now in the C-suite at the agency. That, according to Chief Operating Officer Jack Falvey, was due to “her ability to quickly learn things, keep things organized and work with people.

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“From modernizing our [human resources] department to recruiting and retaining talent during the pandemic, Roxanne has never shied away from a challenge,” Falvey said. “She helped create our company culture from the beginning.”

A few years ago, Nelson and fellow agency executives created several committees, focusing on diversity and inclusion, volunteerism and philanthropy, and wellness. Nelson also served as a founding member of the agency’s activities committee. Committee participation, she says, reinforces collaboration and employee engagement.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Nelson says Falvey Insurance’s information technology department and her team created a plan to allow for remote work. Once everyone was working from home, managing that process became the focus of Nelson’s team, she says.

“Managing and recruiting was a whole different scenario than we’d ever experienced before … we learned how to hold onto our culture even though we’re not together,” Nelson said.

Monthly happy hours, holiday events and spirit weeks – all on Zoom – kept employees motivated and connected at the time. In late 2021, Falvey Insurance adopted a highly flexible hybrid work model, which continues to this day.

Falvey Insurance currently employs 128 people locally. It is a managing general agent specializing in solutions for cargo, supply chain logistics and transportation insurance, and supplemental products through its wholesale division.

The agency has been growing recently. Nelson attributes the 50% increase in employees between 2020 and 2022 to new and expanded business lines, as underwriting, claims, developers and administrative staff were added. Even with that growth, the agency is still hiring, Nelson says, and Falvey Insurance recruits both college graduates with an interest in insurance and experienced professionals who are seeking new opportunities.

“We’re a very niche market … we are looking for their skills and abilities, though not necessarily within our particular line of insurance,” Nelson said. Falvey Insurance also experienced a 62% growth in revenue between 2020 and 2022, according to company data.

Nelson says the agency has seen a drop-off in talent choosing to make insurance their career within the last five years. To address that industrywide decline, Nelson initiated an internship program three years ago.

To date, the agency hired two interns from its program and has seen other interns pursue careers with other insurance companies. Falvey Insurance’s employee turnover rate averages roughly 3% to 5%, in contrast to the industry’s average of 9% to 12%.

“About 25% of our employees have been here for 10 years or more … and many have grown in their careers,” said Nelson, who created an onboarding process that allows employees to start working with their teams on their first day of work.

Falvey says the onboarding process highlights the agency’s value and culture, while ensuring the new hires are motivated when they join their teams.

“Roxanne has ensured [that] new employees are set up to win,” Falvey said.

Within the community, Nelson is a volunteer with the Rhode Island State Grange and the Washington County Ponoma Grange, which sponsors the annual Washington County Fair. Nelson is also an avid traveler, and has some potential destinations mapped out.

“I have a goal to see all seven continents,” she said. “I have Asia, South America and Antarctica left on my bucket list.”

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