November 14, 2019
Keys to Finding and Nurturing Talent
by Kirstin Marr
Few talk about the benefits of top industry talent, except in IT. For innovation to truly scale, the industry needs the best talent.
There’s keen focus in the insurance industry about overhauling obsolete IT infrastructure to support innovation, along with the resulting costs and benefits. Yet few people talk about the benefits of top industry talent in the same quantified manner. For innovation to truly scale, the industry needs to be able to attract and retain the best talent. With the proliferation of the Insurance Careers Movement, we’ve seen insurers take important steps in trying to attract new talent to the industry, but struggle to put that talent on a path to succeed long-term.
With the insurance industry’s unemployment rate down to just 2%, finding the right people to fill newer technology-driven roles, particularly those in data analytics or advanced AI, is proving to be increasingly challenging. According to an independent study conducted by Insurity Valen Analytics, 73% of insurers find it moderately to extremely difficult to find new talent in data and analytics, and the reasons for this difficulty haven’t changed much over the years. Two recurring reasons include a disinterest in insurance careers and more enticing opportunities in other tech startups or data-driven companies. The top reason has consistently been difficulty finding talent in the geographic area of the insurer.
Even when insurers manage to capture elusive tech talent, the total turnover in insurance is 12%. Turnover is expensive for employers and speaks to the inadequacies in employers’ strategies for identifying, acquiring and grooming new talent.
Let’s explore some best practices for employers in the insurance space to find and retain the best talent.
Engaging in the Early Career
With 25% of the workforce in the industry set to retire in the next few years, the U.S. insurance industry is in dire need of a new and reliable talent pool equipped with advanced technological skills. But it’s also not just about backfilling roles left open by retirees. A combination of diverse skill-sets and out-of-the-box thinking is key to fostering an environment of innovation, while combating this talent shortage. Millennials are perfectly suited to offer both but generally haven’t shown much interest in insurance industry employment. According to Pew Research Center, only 4% of millennials show interest in an insurance career.
It is also estimated that, early in their careers, people remain in their jobs for just 12 to 18 months on average—a trend that has proven true from one generation to the next. So how do insurers turn new hires into tenured employees?
See also: How to Scout and Draw the Best Talent
It is critical to find ways to resonate with younger talent by understanding the issues important to this generation. Today’s job seekers want positions that align with their values and offer viable, meaningful career development opportunities. They seek flexibility in the work schedule and location, which works to the insurer’s benefit when they are unable to find talent locally. Other critical elements to engaging with younger workers are pay parity, diversity and inclusion. In 2018, women earned 85% of what men earned in the U.S. While the gender pay gap is closing, there’s still much room for progress, and, as an industry, insurance can lead the change.
By emulating tech companies and constantly encouraging new thinking to foster an innovation culture, insurers have the opportunity to appeal to high-level talent.
Mapping Out a Career Path
“Career pathing” is an integral part of talent management. One of the primary reasons people leave jobs is to advance their careers. The key to attracting and retaining top talent is giving prospective hires not just what they ask for, but what they haven’t thought about yet. This includes carving out possible career paths for them, complete with road maps of employees’ career goals, performance metrics and training needs. When people feel like their employers are invested in their personal futures, they tend to stay where they are, longer.
The importance of this concept is amplified in an industry where finding the right talent is challenging. A career pathing strategy keeps the existing talent pool engaged and makes the company more attractive to those looking for their next career move.
A company that walks the walk of innovation is one that always encourages learning and development, but this can also be done strategically to equip existing employees with skill sets that are in high demand. For example, five key areas have a rising need for new talent within insurance: sales, underwriting, customer services/admin, technology and claims. Employers should consider investing in training opportunities to groom existing talent to learn these in-demand skills.
Managing the Management
Fostering a positive and engaging work culture is important in motivating and retaining employees. It is vital that employees are able to communicate and collaborate with their colleagues and immediate managers or supervisors. Oftentimes, it’s a manager’s inability to make co-workers feel supported that can lead employees to seek or be vulnerable to other opportunities.
Offering congratulations on a job done well or keeping the team apprised of coming plans and projects can make a huge difference. Employees should benefit from the leadership of their managers and receive the training and resources needed to excel at their jobs.
It is just as important to equip the managers with the right tools to engage with and motivate both the new and existing team members.
The insurance industry has the opportunity to define how technology and evolving economies will define their business strategies. This creates a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for next-generation talent who want to make a difference, and sending this message front and center in their hiring narratives can go a long way.