Creating CE Opportunities Employees Will Actually Use

Do you know where you’re leading your staff?

It seems like a basic question for any insurance leader, but there are many ways to answer it—and leading your employees forward in their careers as insurance professionals is just as important as leading them to grow your business.

Leaders can empower employees by supporting continuing education and professional development at every level. Here are a few management practices that can create the right environment for growth:

1) Identify the right incentives. Today, when people think of incentives, they often consider external motivators like gift cards and extra vacation days. But as an agency leader, you can also highlight the intrinsic benefits of education.

CE is too important to simply be something you recommend. In your discussion, center the benefit to the employee as an individual insurance professional with a growing career.

Of course, enabling training and education financially is also important. By funding education, particularly expensive insurance designations, you remove impediments that hold an employee back from expanding their knowledge.

Finally, there’s no harm in attaching a bonus to a new designation.

2) Make it easy. How you accomplish this may depend on your budget. Perhaps you simply identify and fund appropriate, off-site training, or perhaps you create a holistic professional development program with dedicated staff and resources [see sidebar].

3) Create a genuine support system. It’s not enough to simply say you support CE. Just making it available does not necessarily mean employees will take advantage of it.

The most successful CE and professional development programs enjoy support at every level of a business. Senior management makes room for it in the budget, midlevel managers prioritize it and human resources personnel help create the right processes, such as including professional development as a line item in annual reviews.

There’s no set formula that will help employees advance their careers. But creating a supported, funded, enticing CE program can launch employees to new heights. The commitment begins at the top.

John Smith is president & CEO of Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Company.

Laying the Path

At Pennsylvania Lumbermens, 80% of employees are currently pursuing advanced designations, thanks in large part to efforts by Carla Corrado, manager of talent development.

Corrado works with employees to develop a track they can follow toward insurance designations, taking advantage of opportunities offered through The Institutes. She brings in teachers and tutors, orders books, sends reminders about test dates and has designated our office as a test site. —J.S.