Competing for Talent in Today’s Market

By | October 6, 2014

The “war for talent” within the insurance industry is heating up. Insurance organizations are facing a mass exodus of tenured, skilled professionals and are struggling to keep up. The past 10 years have seen the graying of the industry accelerate at a remarkable pace with the number of employees aged 55 and older increasing by 74 percent. Today, the number of insurance workers aged 55 and older is nearly 30 percent higher than the rest of the economy. By the year 2018, it is predicted that 25 percent of the industry’s current workforce will be on the verge of retirement.

Unfortunately, the current bench of less-tenured employees within insurance is not large enough to match the departure of retiring professionals. Currently, less than 27 percent of industry employees fall under the age of 35. Add in low industry unemployment – reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at 2.4 percent for September 2014 – an increased focus on hiring, and a shallow talent pool and the recruiting climate within insurance is reaching a fever pitch.

Faced with an increasingly competitive recruiting environment, what can insurance organizations do to stand out from the competition?

Look Beyond Compensation

What can insurance organizations do to stand out from the competition?

Differentiation is key to becoming an employer of choice in today’s competitive labor market. With candidates able to select between offers, an organization that is unique and provides in-demand benefits and perks will stand out from the crowd. Differentiation within a benefits package goes well beyond offering higher compensation. For job candidates in the current market, it is not just about the money – it is about the benefits.

As professionals look for increased work/life balance and flexibility, benefit packages must be updated to match. More and more, today’s employees are seeing the line between their work life and their home life blur and are searching for an integration between the two. It is no longer a question of creating work/life balance, but rather the seamless blending of one’s work and personal life.

Organizations that foster an environment and culture of work/life integration are more likely to attract top talent. Companies must appeal to the broader sense of the individual and provide benefits and perks to match. For example, today’s employees are looking for a job that allows them to contribute to their communities and feel a sense of pride in their work. Corporate citizenship programs and volunteer opportunities are a great way to provide an outlet for an employee’s altruistic interests. Make sure that your organization offers unique and highly-sought after perks including 401(k) company matching, pension plans, flexible PTO, stocked kitchens, tuition reimbursement, relaxation rooms and gym memberships or subsidies. Providing these benefits is a simple, but effective way to truly stand out from the competition.

Not Too Fast, Not Too Slow

One of the biggest complaints among job seekers is the extended and drawn out interview process. What most companies fail to realize is that organizations that move at a quicker pace are more likely to win candidates. The key is balancing between a hiring process that moves too quickly and one that drags on and on.

Job candidates want to know that the organization they are interviewing with is interested and enthusiastic about their potential as an employee. A process that lags over weeks and months turns potential employees off and is often perceived as a lack of enthusiasm on the part of the employer. By the time an offer is provided, these candidates have already moved on to another position or have completely lost interest in working with the organization.

Alternatively, hiring processes that are rushed can be just as disaffecting as their lengthy counterparts. Candidates faced with an overly quick hiring process often believe that they are being hired simply to fill an open position. This can be very off-putting as job seekers desire to have their experience and skills valued by their potential employers. They want to be assured that the hiring organization is doing its due diligence in ascertaining whether they are truly the best fit for the position and the company as a whole.

Organizations should target a timeline of no more than 60 days when looking to hire a new employee. From the start of the interview process to the actual hiring, this timeframe provides both sides with the opportunity to determine if the other is a good fit and avoids the pitfalls common to protracted processes.

Embrace a Culture of Recruitment

While your organization may not always be hiring, it should always be recruiting. It becomes much more difficult to find and recruit talent if the search is only initiated when a position needs to be filled. Rather, employees must be ambassadors and advocates for the company, selling and engaging others within the industry on the perks, benefits and unique culture and environment provided by your organization regardless of any open opportunities.

The key is building an opportunity pipeline that your organization can turn to in its time of need. To do so, you must constantly share your message with the public.

Make sure that your website is doing all that it can to promote your company – from employee testimonials to details on recent company accomplishments. Job searchers want to be able to read about your culture, see what you offer to employees and learn more about what you have done. Your website is your job search calling card so make sure that you are putting your best foot forward.

In today’s competitive labor market, standing out from the competition is essential to recruiting top talent. With more and more organizations clamoring for talent from a much shallower pool of potentials, the companies that stand out always attract the best candidates. Only by embracing a culture of recruitment and extending unique benefits geared toward promoting an integrated work/life can insurance organizations successfully outshine the competition and attract qualified professionals to their organization.

About David Coons

Coons is senior vice president of The Jacobson Group, a provider of talent to the insurance industry. Phone: 800-466-1578. Email: dcoons@jacobsononline.com. More from David Coons

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Insurance Journal West October 6, 2014
October 6, 2014
Insurance Journal West Magazine

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