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Public Image: What Agencies Must Do to Attract and Retain Talent

There’s a lot of high-level work to be had. The insurance industry must convey this message to a new generation of workers to reduce the industry talent gap and attract, retain and develop young professionals.
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A now all-too-familiar narrative in the insurance industry is that attracting and retaining talent will continue to be a challenge.  

Why? There are a range of reasons that boil down to, in part, perception. Simply put, the public’s perception of insurance does not meet reality. Time and time again, I hear from emerging professionals and college students that insurance is too traditional, too old school. A career in insurance is not perceived as particularly interesting, which hurts recruitment.

Perceptions, however, can be changed. The industry needs to do a better job of highlighting the diversity of career opportunities available in insurance.

The roles that need filling aren’t just in sales. The insurance industry needs data analysts, operations professionals, experts in artificial intelligence, actuaries, cyber investigators and even drone pilots.

There’s a lot of high-level work to be had. We must find a way to convey this message to a new generation of workers to reduce the industry talent gap and attract, retain and develop young professionals seeking stability and growth opportunities.

To do that, insurance professionals need to think differently about recruitment. Colleges and universities offering traditional degrees in risk management witness fewer than 10,000 students graduate each year in the U.S. As a result, hiring and recruitment managers need to look to other relevant fields of study.

For example, insurance organizations need analysts and actuaries to meet tomorrow’s business challenges. Recruiting from other fields of study can bring fresh talent and perspectives to the industry. Presenting these students and graduates with a career path that includes advancement opportunities and their potential impact on the industry helps, as well. The insurance industry can also focus on introducing the industry to high school students, in the hope of influencing their academic pursuits later in college.

Insurance professionals should also approach hiring differently. Like other fields of study, new talent can come from other industries. For instance, if an agency principal is looking to diversify their business by entering an equipment dealers’ niche, they should consider hiring sales professionals with experience in large equipment sales and teach them to apply those skills in the field of insurance.

Also, identify talent with acumen, influence and an established network within the target market and explain to them how they can leverage their talent in a reliable, growing industry like insurance. With the proper training, these industry insiders can make a big difference for any agency.

Once you’ve hired these professionals and launched their insurance industry careers, you need a detailed plan to set them up for success. First, they’ll need practical skills, like developing a top 100 prospect list, as well as insurance technical skills.

And like college recruits to the industry, they too will want to be reassured the insurance industry offers growth and opportunity. Laying out both how they can grow their careers and how meaningful the work they will do is important. They want to play a role in the decisions of the organization, and they want to see a long-term career path. A lack of a plan for either can undo the best hiring and recruitment efforts.

The business of tomorrow’s insurance industry will pose many new challenges. To get there, we must master the messaging on what today’s industry offers and demonstrate a career in insurance is by no means similar to your father’s or grandfather’s experience.

Susan Toussaint is cofounder and partner at Oceanus Partners, a ReSource Pro company. Oceanus Partners is a firm dedicated to helping insurance professionals working in all lines of business insurance to improve sales and client retention.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Recruiting, Hiring & Training