Two and a half years ago, insurance companies were working hard to retain their employees after the COVID-19 pandemic plunged the world into a sudden recession.
Then, in 2021, we faced a new challenge: the “Big Layoff” spurred millions of employees to seek greener pastures when they left the workplace. Many executives assumed that hiring would soon return to its normal pace, but so far that has not been the case. Put simply, it’s hard to find good talent. This is especially true in the insurance industry, which requires skills that include problem solving, organization, analytical skills, and customer service.
Many organizations in our industry are trying to figure out how to recruit the right people for their positions. While employees are certainly driven by salary, they also want to work for an organization that has purpose. With that in mind, here are six ideas on how to strengthen your applicant pools and get your current employees to stay with you.
1. Make sure your company’s values and purpose are clear. Insurance companies focus on their customers and help people and organizations in difficult times. This may seem obvious to you, but is it obvious in everything you do? Do you emphasize your company values during job interviews?
Provide opportunities for your employees to help the communities where they live and work—not just by handling claims, but by rolling up their sleeves and working side-by-side with customers to mitigate their risks and beyond to rebuild after a disaster. When employees feel they can make a difference at your company, they’re more likely to stay where they are – even if another company makes them an attractive offer.
Give your employees the opportunity to participate in committees that affirm the good work they do. You will feel that you are owned by the organization and personally invested, which can translate into better employee retention.
2. Offer career paths within your company. New graduates and near-grads want to know if there is room for growth when they join your organization. Show them that you offer them opportunities for further training, for example by offering job coaches or subsidizing further training courses. Depending on the size of your company and the quality of the talent, you might even show them possible career paths that are available for them to grow.
3. Present your company’s unique benefits and culture. And if you don’t already have unique benefits, offer some! Yes, health insurance and retirement plans are a must, but many insurance companies these days offer their employees far more than just the bare essentials. For example, some employees allow their paid time off to be donated to another employee who is facing a personal challenge and needs additional time off. Employee assistance programs are also an important additional benefit – especially in times when mental health problems are at their highest.
When prospective employees interview at your company, they also want to learn about your company culture. They will spend a large portion of their waking hours working for you and they crave community. You can create a sense of belonging for them, making them feel like they’re surrounded by trusted friends and neighbors instead of co-workers. This is especially important for young people who may be starting out in a new place and want to feel connected.
4. Provide flexibility. Now that the world has seen that working from home is possible in many situations, work will never be the same. The insurance industry in particular is a great place to offer flexibility. A hybrid work environment is a way to give employees the best of both worlds—time to complete autonomous work at home while creating a personal environment where they can collaborate, mentor, and socialize as a team.
5. Redefine employee productivity. Twenty years ago, many companies considered their employees productive when they completed a certain number of tasks at the end of the day. As working hours have become more flexible, many insurers’ definition of productivity has also changed. They see an employee’s value based on their results and not the number of hours they work or the number of “things” they create.
Imagine you have a choice between two sales reps: One works 50 hours a week and can close the deal with an average of five interactions per week. The other only works about 30 hours a week but typically closes the deal with at least 10 interactions a week. Which employee would you prefer?
6. Recognize good work. Even the most productive and happiest employees need a boost every now and then. Managers often compliment good work, but what if you have a manager who doesn’t do this regularly? You risk that person’s team burning out because they don’t get positive feedback. Instead, you could set up a company-wide system to give awards to employees who have worked particularly hard. Make positive feedback part of your culture so it doesn’t depend on the manager.
Even the highest paid employees won’t stay if they don’t see value in the company they work for. You believe in your company, so make sure your employees do too. Transform your company into the place everyone wants to work and soon you’ll find you have your choice of high-caliber talent.
Pam Stampen is Chief People Officer at Church Mutual Insurance. She can be contacted at [email protected].
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