The survey found that nearly half of independent agency new hires were millennials, and the percentage of Generation Z new hires is increasing.
This week, Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance released the findings of the 2022 Agency Growth Study, which surveyed more than 730 independent insurance agents to learn about their strategies for growth. The survey covered how agencies are using digital tools, which emerging trends they think will have the biggest impact on their agencies and the tactics they are using to grow.
A portion of the survey focused on independent agencies' recruiting practices and plans for remote work. In a reflection of the generational shifts happening in the workforce, the survey found that nearly half of independent agency new hires were millennials, and the percentage of Gen Z is increasing, with nearly one in four of agencies' most recent hires being under the age of 25.
Amid a tight labor market and the Great Resignation, independent agencies are competing for talent. As many as 75% of agencies are currently recruiting. In terms of recruiting tactics, referrals and networking were the top methods, with 80% of actively recruiting agencies using them to find candidates, while 40% were advertising online and using social media posts to find candidates.
Interestingly, despite the challenges of finding talent, most of the agencies surveyed were set on finding candidates locally. Just one-third of agency leaders were open to hiring agency staff from elsewhere in the country, the report said.
Looking ahead, more than half of agencies plan to have employees work from the office full time despite indications that workers are happier and more productive when working from home, the survey found. Specifically, of agency staff who work remotely at least one day a week, 67% said their work-life balance was better, 61% said their personal happiness was better, and 55% said they were more productive.
The study also revealed the agencies aiming for “aggressive growth" are growing at a rate more than double that of agencies that are planning for “slow and steady growth"—with an average revenue growth of 22% year-over-year, as opposed to 9% growth for those aiming for slow and steady growth.
These growth-focused agencies stand out from the rest in their hiring strategies, digital use, workplace cultures and more. When it comes to hiring and recruiting, growth-focused agencies are hiring more, with an average of two-and-a-half new producers and three new support staff hired in the past two years, as opposed to an average of one each in slow and steady growth agencies.
Growth-focused agencies are slightly more likely to be hiring younger candidates, where nearly 80% of the most recent hires were Gen Z or millennials. They are also more focused on diversity and more open to hiring outside of their geographic area.
Independent insurance agencies have a lot to offer to attract millennial and Gen Z candidates, the report noted. When agents were asked to describe what makes their agency a great place to work, the top answers were opportunities to help people; good workplace culture and team; career growth; and continuing education.
Meanwhile, growth-focused agencies were more likely to emphasize career growth, flexible work locations, mentorship opportunities and their diverse, inclusive environment. Since insurance careers can offer the meaning, career growth and caring culture that younger generations seek, the report recommended highlighting these aspects of the job when making job postings.
“Attractive workplace cultures don't just happen, they are created. As a new generation enters the workforce and employee expectations continue to rise, those agencies that actively prioritize people, create a values-driven culture and offer the flexibility employees want will outgrow and out-hire their competitors," said Tyler Asher, president of independent agent distribution, Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance. “Now is the time for independent agents to get more intentional about their approach to finding and keeping talent."
Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.