Are You Hiring and Managing Like Your Father’s Generation?

June 16, 2014

A major complaint from agency/brokerage leaders is that recruiting and keeping the right producers and staff is difficult, time-consuming and expensive – and doesn’t even result in having the right people on the job.

Hiring the right people is tough, and keeping the right people can be even tougher:

  • Demand for insurance professionals is strong.
  • Boomers are on the out-route of their careers.
  • Many insurance professionals are satisfied in their current jobs and not moving.
  • The industry doesn’t seem to appeal to young people in significant numbers.

But are insurance employers getting in their own way by using practices that harken back to yesteryear? Let’s put that question another way: When was the last time you reinvented your recruiting and retention processes?

If it’s more than 10 years ago, you’re in trouble.

When was the last time you reinvented your recruiting and retention processes?

Happy Days

The modern science and art of evaluating workers in the business world dates back to the 1950s, when the economy was humming along and businesses began to view their workforces as a competitive edge. America’s universities, supported by the GI Bill, were pumping out skilled, eager and educated people. But sometimes it seems like, today, this industry is hiring and managing in a way that’s as modern as the “Happy Days” era.

The United States might have the world’s biggest economy, but finding and keeping the right people to keep it going is a weak link. Only 44 percent of human resources pros said their organizations use objective data on employees’ competencies and skills to make workforce decisions, according to a survey of 600 by SHL.

Note these findings reported in a recent article in The Atlantic Monthly magazine: 74 percent of 500 hiring managers surveyed by the Corporate Executive Board said their most recent hire had a personality similar to theirs.

A “shared leisure interest” was a key criteria used by hiring managers at investment banks, consulting firms and law firms, according to a three-year study by Lauren Rivera of Northwestern University, who said this showed that bosses lack reliable predictors of job performance.


Isn’t it time to rethink how to assess agent and employee candidates? Here are a few cutting-edge ideas I’ve read about recently that might just work their way into the insurance industry:

  • Knack, a startup company, created two problem-solving games that apparently are both enjoyable to play and yield a “high-resolution portrait of … psyche and intellect, and an assessment of … potential as a leader or an innovator,” according to The Atlantic Monthly. Sound far-fetched? Royal Dutch Shell (the world’s biggest-revenue company) through its venture-capital arm uses Knack’s approach to identify strong innovators who might yield new business ideas.
  • Xerox switched to an online tool in 2010 to evaluate cognitive skills, personality and how job candidates handle work scenarios. It cut its turnover by 20 percent.
  • A study of 2,500 people conducted by the Human Dynamics Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that one-third of team performance could be predicted by the number of face-to-face interactions among team members.

With the business risk presented by a shortage of skilled labor, the industry needs to reboot, reinvent and retool for future success in hiring and retention.

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Insurance Journal West June 16, 2014
June 16, 2014
Insurance Journal West Magazine

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