New technology investments must be viewed by organizations as an essential component of a culture that fosters innovation and empowers people starting out in the insurance industry.
Technology brings many benefits in today's business world. One of them is successfully cultivating the next generation of industry talent.
With a significant gap between the number of insurance job openings and available workers, competition is high among employers to recruit new hires and retain employees. While the labor market shows signs that the exceptionally low unemployment rates may be changing, the issues surrounding attraction, retention and talent development will remain major concerns for brokers beyond 2023.
While all industries face attraction and retention struggles, the insurance industry continues to lag when competing for talent, especially compared to technology and finance. Attracting, retaining and developing talent was the top challenge facing U.S. brokerages, according to Zywave's 2023 Commercial Insurance Market Pulse Report, with more than half stating they struggled to fill a record-high number of job openings last year.
The industry also suffers from a poor public image among millennials and Generation Z, who are looking for meaningful work and may perceive the industry as boring or unfulfilling, even though those working in the industry know the satisfaction that comes with proper risk mitigation, safety and loss control, and exposure analysis.
Insurance firms that offer competitive compensation and benefits, flexibility, meaningful career growth, and development opportunities can get a jump on competitors. The next generation of employees has a different definition of work and expectations relative to their parents, so remote work, growth opportunities and a sense of empowerment and engagement now rival more standard offerings, such as salary, benefits, retirement and vacation.
Accordingly, new technology investments must be viewed by organizations as an essential component of a culture that fosters innovation and empowers people starting out in the industry. Employees who stay the course over the long term typically have access to more tools and resources, which builds confidence and productivity and leads to a happier workplace.
Also, the newest talent joining our industry is already aware of the speed of advances in technology in their personal lives. These “digital natives" have grown up with technology, and they're attracted to modern workplaces which reflect an openness to new ideas and new ways of thinking and working. The perpetuation of manual or tedious tasks, such as rekeying data, does not bode well for culture, talent retention or development.
Learning management systems can be leveraged for onboarding and training to give new hires the knowledge and confidence to act and share their ideas. Access to prospect lists that are pre-combined with exposure aspects helps producers build a book of business faster. And connecting liability collateral to the agency's customer relationship management (CRM) software means new account executives reach more clients with fewer keystrokes.
Every employer's goal is to have employees work smarter, not harder. The insurance industry is no different. It's more important than ever for employers to monitor areas of the workplace that their staff value. The need for anonymous surveys, regular feedback, and frequent, transparent internal communication—all enabled by technology—is crucial. The insurance industry tech stack is undergoing rapid advances, and employers who properly harness this wave will be rewarded by a culture embodied by a new cohort of loyal, capable employees rising up in their ranks.
Jeff Cohen is senior vice president at Zywave.