We made it! We survived the economic instability of the past few years and have more than rebounded. The insurance industry is well ahead of the greater economy; and the picture painted by our labor market is much different than that of one year ago. In fact, the insurance industry is boasting virtually no unemployment with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that the insurance carrier unemployment rate decreased to 2.5 percent in August.
Even when industry unemployment was high, we were still experiencing difficulty recruiting talented employees. As optimism continues to grow and is reflected in hiring plans (according to The Jacobson Group and Ward Group’s Mid-Year Labor Outlook Study, 54.4 percent of industry organizations plan to increase staff in the next 12 months), the demand for talent will undoubtedly outstrip the supply. With only 26.6 percent of the industry’s workers under the age of 35 and the disappearance of training programs during the recession, it isn’t a matter of if, but when.
The war for talent is real. Hiring high performers and high potentials is becoming more and more difficult. Organizations that are not prepared for this competitive environment will find themselves at a sincere disadvantage.
If your recruitment strategy is outdated, you are not alone. During the height of the recession and amidst hiring freezes, talent plans were not a priority. But now is the time to dust off your strategies — and throw them in the trash. The new economy looks and feels different and pre-recession approaches may no longer be the right fit.
Evaluating Risks and Needs
Whether you are growing your staff through temporary or permanent hires, experienced or emerging talent, or a combination, evaluating your talent risk and creating a strategy for success will give you the competitive advantage you need in the new economy. It is up to your business to determine what will most significantly impact your needs not only today, but tomorrow, and refocus your strategy.
Temporary vs. Permanent
Many companies are wary of onboarding talent that may not be a long-term fit. They are taking precautions in their approach to spending and turning to temporary staffing as a solution. In fact, the use of temporary staffing increased 51 percent in the past five years. There are many advantages to a temporary approach. Time-to-fill is typically faster and less expensive than that of a permanent position; and temporary roles are a common vehicle for “trying before buying,” alleviating the risk of a traditional new hire.
Of course, restricting yourself solely to the temporary sphere also limits your talent pool. Traditionally, employed passive or active candidates are unwilling to give up the perceived security of a permanent role for something temporary.
Experienced vs. Emerging
Experienced workers supply the highly sought after skills and knowledge that are often needed to make an immediate impact. It will typically cost you more to hire someone with the expertise you need, but they will be able to jump right in with a shorter learning curve.
However, the majority of the insurance industry will enter retirement within the next 15 years. It is important to take an honest look at your organization’s knowledge gaps and identify succession concerns.
Now is the time to invest in new graduates and young professionals. Eager to learn and contribute, and often at a lower cost of entry, the next generation is a long-term solution, giving organizations the opportunity to implement a formal succession planning and development program.
Within this challenging recruiting climate lies the opportunity to stand out above the rest as an employer of choice. A competitive recruiting strategy will not only attract qualified employees that can do the job, but also those that exemplify the organization’s values are a good culture fit:
Go where they are. Find out where your top candidates spend their time. Are they frequently checking LinkedIn for new job openings? Do they attend networking events? Are they active in specific online forums? Create a presence to further your employer brand awareness.
Be aware of what they value. According to a recent survey, besides salary, potential candidates are also evaluating work flexibility, benefits and company culture. Yes, candidates worry about that too. Look at your company from the candidate’s lens.
Ask for referrals. Your current employees are ambassadors for the company. Asking for employee referrals is one of the most powerful ways to recruit qualified talent. There is also no better way to promote your company. It speaks volumes when an employee is willing to recommend your organization as a place to work.
Don’t overlook emerging talent. With nearly 50 percent unemployment among recent college grads, this is an untapped market for the insurance industry. This bright, new talent may be lacking in industry experience, but can make up for it with innovation and passion.
Embrace new ideas and be innovative. Be a game-changer and set the tone for how companies should approach recruitment in the new economy and what candidates should expect from an employer.
The last chapter in our economic history has introduced a new workforce and, in turn, changed the way we should recruit and retain skilled employees and tomorrow’s leaders. Be sure to carefully weigh your risks and opportunities, so you can capitalize now to build a strong workforce for the future.