Two and a half years ago, insurance companies were working hard to retain their employees after the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the world into a sudden recession.
Then in 2021, we faced a new challenge: The “great resignation” spurred millions of employees to seek greener pastures as they left their jobs. Many leaders figured hiring levels would soon settle back to their regular pace, but so far, they haven’t. Simply put, it’s hard to find good talent. This is particularly true in the insurance industry, one that requires a skill set that includes problem solving, organization, analytical skills and customer service.
Many organizations in our industry are trying to figure out how to recruit the right people to fill their positions. Although employees certainly are driven by salary, they also want to work for an organization that has a sense of purpose. With that in mind, here are six ideas for boosting your applicant pools and enticing your current employees to stick with you.
1. Make sure your company’s values and purpose are clear. Insurance companies are focused on their customers, helping people and organizations through hard times. That may seem obvious to you, but is it obvious in everything you do? Do you highlight your corporate values during hiring interviews?
Provide opportunities for your employees to help the communities in which they live and work — not just by addressing claims, but also by rolling up their sleeves and working side by side with customers to mitigate their risk and rebuild after a disaster. When employees feel like they are making a difference at your company, they are more likely to stay put — even if another organization gives them an attractive offer.
Give your employees the chance to participate in committees that reinforce the good work you do. They will feel ownership and a personal investment in the organization, which can translate into better employee retention.
2. Offer career paths within your company. Recent college graduates and almost-graduates want to know there is room to grow if they join your organization. Show them you will provide them with opportunities to further their education, such as offering job coaches or subsidizing continuing education courses. Depending on the size of your company and the quality of the talent, you could even map out possible career paths available to them for growth.
3. Showcase your company’s unique benefits and culture. And, if you don’t already have unique benefits, offer some! Yes, health insurance and a retirement plan are musts, but these days, many insurance companies are offering their employees much more than just the basics. For example, some permit employees to donate their paid time off to another employee facing a personal challenge and needing extra time off. Employee assistance programs are also an important added benefit — particularly these days, when mental health issues are at an all-time high.
When potential employees are interviewing at your company, they also want to know about your company culture. They will spend a large percentage of their waking time working for you, and they crave a community. You can create that sense of belonging for them, so they feel like they are 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 location and want to feel connected.
4. Offer flexibility. Now that the world has seen 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 one way to give employees the best of both worlds – time to complete autonomous work at home, while still creating an in-person environment to collaborate, mentor and socialize as a team.
5. Redefine productivity for your employees. Twenty years ago, many companies considered their employees productive if they accomplished a certain number of tasks by the end of the day. As work schedules have become more flexible, many insurers’ definition of productivity has changed as well. They view an employee’s worth based on their outcomes, rather than the number of hours they worked or the number of “things” they created.
Imagine you have a choice between two sales associates: One works 50 hours a week and is able to close the deal on an average of five interactions a week. The other works only about 30 hours a week, but usually closes the deal on at least 10 interactions per week. Which employee would you prefer?
6. Recognize good work. Even the most productive, happiest employees need a boost now and then. Managers often will call out particularly good work — but what if you have a manager who doesn’t regularly do this? You risk that person’s team getting burned out because they don’t receive any positive feedback. Instead, you could have a company-wide system of doling out accolades to employees who have worked especially hard. Make positive feedback a part of your culture, so it isn’t manager dependent.
Even the best-paid employees won’t stick around if they don’t see value in the company for which they are working. You believe in your company, so make sure your employees do too. Turn your business into the place everyone wants to work and soon you will find that you have your pick of quality talent.
Pam Stampen is chief people officer at Church Mutual Insurance. She may be contacted at [email protected].