Nearly 80% of agency owners have made operational changes to counteract the Great Resignation.
Nearly 80% of agency owners and principals report making operational changes to retain their employees over the past two years, according to Vertafore's fifth annual report on insurance agency workflow. The changes agencies are making include increasing compensation, offering flexible schedules and creating remote work options.
The survey of more than 1,300 individuals from independent agencies and managing general agents (MGAs) revealed that insurance professionals are generally happy and satisfied with their careers and, while the industry has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and the Great Resignation, it has continued to show resilience by meeting challenges as they arise.
“'Show me the money' is clearly resonating with employees as they look for new positions and negotiate to stay in the ones they already have. And agency owners seem to get it, as 41% of them said they were increasing compensation to retain employees," the report said. Offering remote work (34%), flexible schedules (32%), and bonuses and other financial incentives (31%) are also popular retention strategies.
More time off (29%), more sponsored professional development (22%) and additional or new benefits (16%) were among the other strategies while 21% of owners reported making no changes.
Employee turnover in the insurance industry was estimated to be 11.9% in 2017, according to the Aon Insurance Industry Trends and Outlook for 2019. A retiring workforce and an attractive labor market outside the insurance space accounted for a large portion of this percentage. Nevertheless, 1 in 5 respondents reported changing companies in the past 12 months with financial considerations, including more bonuses (49%) and higher salaries (44%), being the main drivers. And in a sign of the times, more than 1 in 4 of respondents who changed jobs last year said they left for remote work opportunities while 54% left to retire.
“Agencies are working to create the 'next normal' as they reconfigure their employment and technology infrastructures," the report said. “Employees are readjusting their expectations for where, when, and how they want to work. Throughout these upheavals, agencies are still providing the service that the industry has come to expect."
While the insurance industry has traditionally enjoyed low turnover rates, survey results indicate a shift that employers should take note of.
In terms of technology, 3 in 4 respondents felt technology has had a positive impact on their agency in the past two years. The most popular modernization trends allow for automation of repetitive tasks and data entry to improve efficiency to free up time to spend with clients. Yet, more than half of those surveyed said their agency could do a better job staying up to date with tech advances, the report states.
Further, while most insurance professionals would recommend a career in the industry, those who would make that recommendation dipped to 78% in 2021 from 85% in 2020. Meanwhile, nearly half would consider leaving the industry for factors like better compensation, a better work-life balance and career advancement.
A continued theme throughout the report, and in line with last year's survey, is the industry's joy in serving the community. When asked what they like most about their career, 48% of respondents ranked “working directly with my community" as their top answer. Respondents also selected compensation and financial stability (43%), career growth opportunities (40%), and job security (39%) as top areas of satisfaction.
The insurance industry continues to face a gender gap, with women—who represent 60% of the insurance industry workforce—holding 19% of board seats, 11% of inside officer positions and 12% of C-suite positions.
For more analysis of independent agency workforce trends related to remote work, job satisfaction and technology implementation, read the full report.
Olivia Overman is IA content editor.