Missteps in Employee Hiring Costly for Agencies: MarshBerry

By Megan Bosma | October 7, 2013

For most lines of insurance business, commission income is growing, and most insurance agents and brokers expect profits to be similar or better in 2013 compared to 2012. That’s according to the 28th Annual Market & Financial Outlook Survey by MarshBerry launched in conjunction with Insurance Journal in June.

The survey – which compiled anonymous general independent agency information along with financial, market, carrier and technology data – indicates that there is an optimistic outlook for the insurance industry.

Sixty-three percent of survey respondents indicated that they are increasing headcount in the next year. Continued employee reinvestment is a positive sign for the industry. Hiring new employees is necessary for future growth. However, missteps in employee hiring can be very expensive.

Hiring Costs

Hiring and replacing employees is costly. A study conducted in November 2012 by the Center for American Progress found that for positions earning less than $75,000 the typical cost of employee turnover was 20 percent of the salary for the position. (See Center for American Progress, “There are Significant Business Costs to Replacing Employees,” November 16, 2012.)

Fixed costs of hiring new employees include recruiting and headhunter fees, costs associated with posting positions on a job board, referral fees paid to employees, as well as costs for licensing and outside training.

Hidden costs are more difficult to quantify. Those costs include the knowledge lost when a trained employee leaves, lower productivity for the individuals who need to assume additional work until the position is filled and the time spent reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates and making job offers.

There are also costs associated with internal training. A knowledgeable team member must train a new employee on an agency’s processes and procedures, as well as spend time checking their work, until the new employee is up to speed.

Based on MarshBerry’s proprietary financial management database, “Perspectives for High Performance,” 52 percent of employees terminated in 2012 were hired in the previous three years. For 2012, the first year turnover ratio was 20 percent. That means that 20 percent of employees terminated in 2012 also were hired in 2012.

Of the employees terminated in 2012, 19 percent were hired in 2011 and 13 percent were hired in 2010. Terminated employees include employees who retired, employees who voluntarily left the organization and those who were let go.

Develop a Plan

Similar to other areas of the business, an agency should develop a plan to hire, bring on-board and retain new employees. However, many firms have not invested the time or money to build strong employee retention strategies that include career paths and corresponding compensation scales, clearly defined job descriptions, on-going meaningful performance evaluations, and effective on-boarding and training programs.

Employees are the most valuable asset of an insurance agency. Hiring the right people, reducing employee turnover and increasing employee satisfaction can position an agency for sustainability.

Employee turnover is not preventable. The goal is to retain the key employees who can propel your agency forward.

The MarshBerry 2013 Market & Financial Outlook highlights these areas and others including:

  • Key agent and broker performance trends from 2007-2014, with results segmented by revenue size and region;
  • Largest threat to agency growth;
  • Carrier partner strengths;
  • Five year expense trends (CAGR); and Staffing trends.

Those who completed the survey and provided their contact information will receive a link to download the complete report on Oct. 23, 2013. The report will be available for purchase online on October 23 via www.MarshBerry.com for $199. To learn more about the survey, or to download the Executive Summary, visit: http://info.marshberry.com/ExecutiveSummary.

About Megan Bosma

Bosma is senior vice president at MarshBerry. Email: MeganBosma@MarshBerry.com. Phone: 440-392-6553.

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