The insurance industry, known for being stable even during times of instability, is once again set to add jobs and grow in the next year. According to The Jacobson Group’s third quarter 2021 study, 93 percent of insurance companies plan to either maintain or grow their headcount in the coming year. The majority of those (56 percent) are actively planning to grow.
In a recent article, Insurance Journal reports the study’s findings spell out a 1.81 percent increase in overall insurance industry employment during the next 12-month period – assuming the projections play out as expected.
This means, if you’re planning on growing, you’re not alone. And the battle for talent is about to get even more brutal as the industry once again prepares for a boom. Not only will most insurance companies be hiring over the next 12 months, but the study shows that the majority of roles, across all functions, are considered at least moderately difficult to fill. This is the first time in the history of the Jacobson Group study that insurance companies have reported this level of difficulty in filling roles!
Retiring baby boomers, fewer young people turning to insurance for a career, high turnover among newer employees, and plans to grow at insurance companies? It’s the perfect storm for the talent crisis already in progress to get even worse. So, what’s an insurance company to do?
Here are a few thoughts on how insurance carriers can be as competitive as possible, hopefully leading to staying ahead of others in order to recruit and retain the talent they need to achieve their growth goals.
Invest in technology
We’ve said it ourselves on multiple occasions, but it bears repeating: Insurance companies that invest in technology to make employees’ lives easier will lead the way when fighting for talent. From the practical side, investing in systems that help your staff reduce busy-work and repetitive data entry will obviously lead to greater productivity. But it’s more than that.
The benefits of modern technology have a ripple effect. Employees feel more valued since their time isn’t being spent on tasks they see as beneath them. Distribution channel partners feel it too when they have access to systems that provide them with a single source of truth and quicker ways of getting things done than your competitors may have.
You also can’t overlook the benefits that technology brings to the compliance side of things. With a system (like AgentSync, for example) to manage producer onboarding, licensing, renewals, and appointments, you’ll be equipped to add agencies and producers more quickly without fear of missing vital compliance steps along the way.
Invest in diversity
The challenges facing today’s insurance companies are unique to this generation. So, the solutions must also be. While it might sound counterintuitive, experts recommend recruiting employees who have no insurance industry background, rather than just poaching experienced staff from other companies.
Doing so has the benefit of actually bringing new workers into the industry, which helps the overall problem (staffing shortage) instead of just putting a bandage on your own company’s short-term problem. Another benefit of bringing in people from entirely outside the insurance industry is that it opens up the possibility of recruiting talented women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQ+, and others who historically aren’t already represented within the industry.
Investing in a more diverse workforce isn’t just some “politically correct” box to check off. It’s been found to drive innovation and revenue, because teams perform better when challenges are tackled from a variety of perspectives.
With the insurance industry’s reputation for being dominated by old, white men, it can be a game-changer to bring in fresh talent by recruiting those with no prior insurance experience. Ultimately, no one in the industry will solve the current perfect storm of empty jobs and a lack of qualified candidates by hiring the same people you already have been for the past several decades.
Invest in training/mentoring
This tip is actually a culmination of the first two: When you diversify your talent pool with those outside the insurance industry, and when you create a positive experience for your staff through eliminating tedious, repetitive tasks, the result is an environment where senior staff have the time and ability to provide training and mentorship.
When asked, employees often cite mentorship and opportunities to grow their skills as some of the top things they look for in a career. Millennials have a reputation for “job hopping” but the truth is they are just as likely to stay in one place as older generations, if they feel their career growth is being fostered. If insurance companies truly want to grow, not just in 2022 but for many years to come, they need to invest in the next generation of talent now while there are still some seasoned staff to glean knowledge from.
All in all, the storm that’s brewing for insurance companies won’t be solved by doing things the way they’ve always done them. Upfront costs, whether that’s investing in a producer licensing and compliance management system or spending time training staff with no prior industry experience, are unavoidable. The key to success will be taking the plunge and getting up to speed as soon as possible in order to achieve growth goals, rather than lagging behind and missing the mark.
While much of this advice is yours to take and run with, and may require the help of outside resources, one area we can support you in is your investment in technology. Implementing a producer licensing management system like AgentSync Manage will help your insurance company be easier to work with, both for your own employees and the agencies, MGAs, and MGUs you partner with.
Check out an AgentSync demo to learn more.