The insurance industry needs help, lots of help. By 2020, it’s predicted that we’ll have 400,000 open positions. Of course, we’ve been talking about the talent shortage for years, but we’ve primarily limited our worried conversations to industry events and within our individual agencies.
At MJ Insurance, it’s been our goal for years to target young professionals and highlight the incredible career opportunities we can offer.
We started by first considering the industry from an outsider’s perspective. Why weren’t young people interested, not even a little? Simply put, insurance seemed like a boring, dead-end job. Not a career. Not a consideration for anyone enthusiastic about their future. Ouch, that hurt.
We knew that perception didn’t have to be our reality — and with a little work, more community engagement and focused efforts, we could right the ship.
We had two tasks. One was to create an engaging employee experience. The other was to share our story.
Focusing on employee needs has improved nearly everything about the MJ experience. It’s a simple equation — happy employees provide better customer service. This boosts retention rates and long-term success and profitability.
We let our employees determine our direction. We put our purpose in writing and made a commitment to delivering. MJ exists to inspire the success, fulfillment and wellbeing of each person we serve: our associates and their families, business partners, clients and our community.
It’s a promise we repeat often and share with talent prospects. To support our pledge, we emphasize five key passions: personal development; systems for success (giving people the technology and processes they need to succeed); inspiring leaders; exponential effect (or positive collaboration); and fun. Fun carries just as much weight as the other passions. After all, “Happiness is a choice. Bring your sense of humor and desire to have fun to work with you every day.”
Results Worth Believing
We didn’t treat the development of our purpose and five passions as just an exercise. We actively work every day to follow through; it’s important.
We offer education opportunities to every client and employee to help them stay up-to-date with trends and emerging risks. This includes InspireYOU, a client education series designed to engage and support discussion, and MJ YOUniversity, our employee personal and professional development program.
MJ employees select the community organizations that we support financially and with volunteers.
We don’t consider our agency a traditional top-down model. Instead, we encourage collaboration on every level, so everyone feels they have, and are appreciated for their voice.
We believe a more engaging employee experience results from offering workplace flexibility, current technology and spaces that support collaboration and different work styles.
The Industry Sell
When selling your agency as a great place to work, don’t forget to discuss the industry, too. Only 2 percent of college grads admit any “interest” in entering insurance. So what should we say to change their perception? For starters, we need be loud and proud that college risk management majors traditionally enjoy 100 percent employment rates following graduation. We have positions for a remarkable range of interests and talent sets, for every personality, whether competitive, nurturing, analytical or creative.
Perhaps our greatest selling point is that we take care of our neighbors. Never underestimate the appeal of this. It’s an important consideration for today’s job seekers.
Turn Up the Volume
It’s been heartening to learn that many people have overlooked our industry, not because we have a poor story to tell, but because we simply haven’t been telling it. It turns out they’re intrigued by the opportunity once they hear it.
If your agency has already done the hard work and created that engaging employee experience, it’s no longer the message itself that’s holding you back. It’s time to turn up the volume. Our industry’s future is at stake.
Loftin is president and COO of Indianapolis-based MJ Insurance.