With nearly 400,000 employees expected to retire from the insurance industry workforce within the next few years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, its incumbent on carriers to consider the ways in which they communicate with and recruit job applicants.
According to PwC’s top issues annual report 2016, “Commercial insurers – like many other kinds of insurers – have an aging workforce and are facing an impending talent crunch. Automation cannot replace the qualitative judgment that is necessary for effective underwriting. Therefore, it is vital for insurers to develop a performance-driven culture that enables the recruitment, development, and retention of younger underwriting talent.”
This impending talent shortage, coupled with recent studies suggesting that the insurance industry isn’t widely appealing to millennials, is forcing insurers to rethink their recruiting strategy, according to Dave Coons, senior vice president of Jacobson Group.
“We’re facing a potential talent shortage unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the past,” Coons said.
The insurance industry isn’t alone in this workforce revolution.
The authors of the PwC report wrote, “Most US employers are woefully unprepared for the business realities of an aging workforce and face a potentially massive loss of skilled, knowledgeable workers. Companies that effectively recruit, train and develop dedicated future staff and leaders will differentiate themselves and set themselves up for success into the future.”
As a result of this massive transformation, insurers must reexamine how potential employees are screened and interviewed, Coons explained.
“In the past, we were always more inclined to screen candidates out,” Coons said. “However, this is quickly being replaced with a screening in mentality – meaning that we have to more actively or proactively engage candidates to consider longterm careers in the insurance industry.”
In its 2016 property/casualty insurance outlook report, Ernst and Young noted that “Insurers must be proactive in recruiting and retaining next-generation innovators and leaders.”
The role of one department in particular is highlighted in the PwC report: “Human resources recruiters are the scouting departments of the insurance industry. Insurance recruiters have two options – to hire experienced candidates or recruit and develop raw talent through effective training programs.”
According to Chad Record, assistant vice president of The Jacobson Group, candidates may not know about the wide array of opportunities that exist within an insurance company.
That’s because in the past, the focus on a potential employee might be just on the skills needed for a particular job. Now, carriers are widening their focus on all of an applicant’s abilities to zero in on where their skill set might best fit into the company.
“It’s incumbent on the company to look at where their skills and competencies might transcend certain boundaries and actually help candidates explore options and alternatives within the organization,” Record said.
Record said if a candidate is placed in a role that maximizes his or her strengths, it will lead to greater job satisfaction and engagement.
The emphasis for insurers looking to increase staff size and replace employees is to cater to millennials, said Coons. With 66 percent of insurers looking to add staff, according to a Jacobson and The Ward Group study, and millennials expected to make up 50 percent of the workforce population, it’s a no-brainer.
Catering to millennials means offering job stability, providing meaningful work and rewards for the type of work they do, Record explained. In addition, advanced technology and providing millennials a voice in how they perform their jobs are important workplace qualities.
“Leveraging energy, enthusiasm and creativity might advance a company’s growth and development,” Record said.
Changes in employee recruitment calls for changes in the interview process as well, explained Record. There has been an increase in the use of video conferencing for interviews as well as video career fairs. In addition, the interview process may now include peer to peer interviews.
“There’s a greater emphasis on peer to peer interviews which allows candidates to get a better sense of who they will be working with, rather than just who they will be working for,” said Record. “Team work is very appealing to millennials so this process is something we’re seeing a lot more of these days.”
Coons provided examples of what some insurers are doing to revise their recruitment process. This includes an increased use of social media for a broader reach proactively and interactively with prospective employees. Carrier career websites have also been upgraded to offer options such as click to chat with a recruiter, employee videos and links to social media. The idea is to be able to interact 24/7, Coons said.
Coons expressed his enthusiasm for all of the changes happening in the hiring process.
“It’s an exciting time to be employed in the insurance industry,” said Coons.
Insurance industry executives and groups working to attract millennials to the sector are now actively targeting their younger colleagues to help get the word out through the Insurance Careers Movement initiative.
Last December, the recruiting initiative held a webinar designed to appeal to younger property/casualty insurance employees to raise awareness of the industry and help recruit new applicants. According to organizers, close to 2,000 people took part in the webinar, with millennials and others logging in from the U.S., U.K., Turkey, Switzerland, Mexico, Ireland, India, France, Canada and Bermuda.
The Insurance Careers Movement has designated February as its second annual insurance careers month. Overall, the Insurance Careers Movement includes more than 600 insurance carriers, agents/brokers, trade associations and industry partners.