Talent management continues to be a top concern among C-Suite leaders in all industries, and for good reason. Finding and retaining the best talent is the only way to safeguard the future of your organization.
Unemployment is at a record low, while the number of companies hiring is high
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate for October 2019 was 3.5 percent, matching a level it last saw in December 1969. ExecuSearch finds that 62 percent of employers are planning on expanding their teams in 2019.
As the economy continues to grow and the job market becomes more competitive, building a qualified and committed team is increasingly more difficult.
The Insurance Industry Faces Unique Challenges
With an unemployment rate lower than the national average at 2 percent, the job market for the insurance industry is particularly tight. Let’s face it; insurance isn’t the sexiest-sounding industry to pursue. Despite competitive salaries, high levels of job satisfaction and job stability — all the things millennials look for in a career — the industry isn’t beckoning them. A survey by The Hartford found that only 4 percent of millennials placed the industry on their “work wish list.”
Over the next 15 years, it is estimated that half of the current insurance industry workforce will retire, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Forward-thinking brokers will need to be more creative in their hunt for talent if they wish to survive and thrive in today’s candidate-driven market.
Steve Radespiel of the Insurance Center of North Jersey knows first-hand the challenges his peers face. In his role as president-elect of the Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) of the New Jersey Trade Association, Radespiel is in frequent contact with agents throughout the state. “Everybody is having a hard time finding talent, especially young talent,” he says.
To succeed, agencies need to re-examine their hiring strategies. “You have to understand the candidate’s mindset to determine how to find them, engage them and keep them for the long haul,” Radespiel notes. In many cases, this means altering your approach and mindset.
You’re Not Just Recruiting; You’re Acquiring Talent
It’s important to understand the difference between recruitment and talent acquisition. While often used interchangeably, confusing the two during the hiring process can affect your ability to expand your team strategically.
Recruiting simply fills open positions. The talent level of the candidates and seamlessly integrating them into your company are not top priorities.
On the other hand, talent acquisition involves looking for the “right” people to fit into your organization. Simply put, recruitment is about getting people on the roster, while talent acquisition is about building a championship-level team. One is relatively short-term, while the other is long-term.
If You Build It, They Will Come
You’ve likely heard about the important role culture plays in attracting talent, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle. To draw in talent, you need to build your employer brand. The employer brand refers to the employer’s reputation or employee value proposition. When your current employees love where they work, word gets around. Creating a favorable employee experience ensures what your employees are sharing about their workplace is positive.
Developing a great employee experience is contingent upon three factors:
Many job seekers in today’s market have never known a time without the internet. They have grown up surrounded by instant access to people, news and social clutter via their smartphones 24/7. They are used to performing everyday tasks like ordering a pizza or a car with a swipe of a finger, and they expect the same ease of execution in the workplace.
Smart employers are viewing this as an opportunity. They are providing tools and technology that allow digital natives to collaborate, communicate and conduct business in ways in which they are accustomed, with positive results.
It’s also important to remember that the relationship with your organization begins the moment a candidate submits their resume. Applicant tracking software (ATS) streamlines the process, making it faster, easier and more direct. As for the dreaded first-day paperwork, onboarding software means the new employee can access, complete and electronically sign their forms prior to their first day of work.
An employee’s physical surroundings are an important part of their impression of the organization: the floor plan, furniture, and even the bathroom. It also includes any perks they may have, like access to a lounge to relax in, cafeteria, a break room or outdoor space for fresh air.
Today’s candidates want an office space as flexible as their lifestyles. Many organizations are opting for floor plans that encourage mobility. Portable desks along with areas for peer collaboration and isolation when needed are most appealing.
It’s the most important part of the employee experience and what sets the tone when it comes to crafting a positive one. Culture is your organization’s personality, partly dictated by management, and partly something that develops naturally over time. It stems from the values, attitudes, practices and mission of the organization.
While perks like foosball tables, free lunches and happy hours might initially attract talent, it’s the culture that makes them stay. Providing a positive work environment where employees feel adequately compensated, valued and appreciated, and where their voices are heard are the keys to developing a deeply connected workforce.
Demonstrating a commitment to your employees’ growth and development through learning opportunities is a proven strategy. In fact, according to Robert Half, businesses with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates around 30 to 50 percent higher than those who don’t.
Think Outside the Box … and the Industry
You can’t rely on traditional methods to build your A-team. According to Radespiel, a lot of agencies are exploring non-traditional venues to locate potential candidates. Aside from a license, brokers and claims professionals need to be excellent listeners and communicators, skills often associated with other professions.
“I know people in the industry that have spoken to workers in banks, restaurants, car dealerships and mobile retailers, trying to recruit them because they are good with people, and in some cases, have sales abilities. In addition to conventional methods like putting ads on job boards, a lot of them are looking themselves and reaching out to people that they come in contact with,” shares Radespiel. This approach has worked for his agency. He finds it easier to train an employee with desirable soft skills rather than hiring someone with prior industry experience.
Look Inward and Promote From Within
Your best source for talent may be your current employees. When hiring for upper-level positions, consider promoting from within. In some cases, employees may have the potential you need but are waiting for the right opportunity.
Managers who have risen through the ranks of your business have the potential to be better than those who come in from the outside. You do not have to train the new managers on your operations, and you already know that the candidates are aligned with your brand goals and overall success.
Encourage Social Recruiting
If you haven’t considered the power your employees have in spreading the word or acting as advocates for your employer brand, it’s time to take note. Employee advocacy gives your company a human element, making it desirable to prospective job seekers.
Thanks to the rise of social media sites and blogging platforms, everyone is a publisher and marketer. With a single post or tweet, your employees can reach hundreds of connections that your recruiting efforts could be missing.
Seek Employee Referrals
Employee referrals are not only the most popular way for companies to acquire new talent; they are also the fastest, cheapest and most effective. It helps with retention as well as attraction. There’s no better way for an employee to get to know the ins and outs of the business than by shadowing another employee who is also their friend.
Research suggests that not only do referred candidates have better odds of getting hired (two-thirds of the time), they are more likely to experience job satisfaction. (Sixty-five percent of referred employees are very satisfied with their ability to fulfill the requirements of the position.)
Become a Resource to Your Clients
Armed with these tips, your agency is in a better position to succeed in today’s candidate-driven job market. The benefits of educating yourself on talent acquisition can be viewed as two-fold. Not only does it help secure the future of your organization, but it can also help you develop stronger ties with your clients.
Your clients face similar challenges when it comes to hiring. As a trusted advisor, clients likely turn to you for advice that extends beyond insurance. Having the ability to address these challenges keeps you relevant, helps strengthen your relationships, and ultimately gives you a competitive edge.
The views of the author of this article do not necessarily represent the views of Gradifi. We make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained here. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax or financial advisors to understand the tax, financial and legal consequences of any strategies mentioned in this article.