Insurance agency managers may need to reassess the future of the five-day-a-week office after the pandemic is over as nearly two-thirds of agency employees would like a mix of at-home and office going forward.
That’s according to a report, Insurance Agency Workforce: Ripe for Flexibility, Innovation, and Investment in People, which details the results of technology firm Vertafore’s fourth annual survey of the independent insurance agency workforce.
The majority of respondents reported working from home at least part-time during the pandemic, a fact that the report says may have implications for the future of office culture. Only 15% of those surveyed said they want to go back to the office full-time. Two-thirds would like some mix of time at home and in the office, while nearly 1 in 5 want to work fully remote.
Women worked from home at least part of the time at a higher rate (35%) than men (23%). Of the women working from home, most were age 40-55.
“Organizations will need to listen to their people and keep an open mind for what the flexible workplace will look like in the future,” said Kristin Nease, vice president of Human Resources at Vertafore. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Organizations need to have open, authentic conversations with their team about what will and won’t work for their people and their business.”
The Vertafore study reaffirms that agencies are facing a huge transition in talent. Respondents aged 56 and older made up 35% of those surveyed, while only 25% of respondents were under age 40.
Vertafore said that gap reinforces findings from previous years that show the industry isn’t attracting enough young talent to compensate for older workers who are nearing retirement.
“The insurance industry will have to get creative when it comes to filling the huge people shortage we are facing now and in the coming years as the older generation retires,” said Nease. “We need innovative solutions, and we need to align with what is important to a younger and more diverse group of people.”
The majority of survey respondents were women aged 40-55 who have worked in the insurance industry for longer than 10 years, and 97% of respondents work for an agency and identify as an account manager. These demographics are not surprising—the independent insurance agency has begun to trend more female over the age of 40, according to the survey.
“Women continue to grow their presence in insurance. Especially as the industry faces employee shortage in the coming years, it will be vital for employers to acknowledge and appreciate these statistics of women in the workplace, where balancing work and personal life has come into the spotlight,” write the report’s authors.
The report recommends that agencies invest in three areas for recruitment and retention: women, young people, and diversity and inclusion.
The Vertafore agency workforce survey also found:
- Compared to previous surveys, fewer respondents plan to stay in the industry for more than 10 years and many are eyeing retirement.
- Agents say they ultimately want more time in their day for meaningful client interactions and see technology as a way to not only give them more time to spend with clients but also strengthen their client relations, according to the survey.
- As in past years, respondents said their favorite aspects of working in insurance are the “ability to work directly with my community” and “compensation/financial stability.” Some respondents cited the industry’s employment stability in the face of COVID-19.
- Most (85%) would recommend a career in insurance. However, many also stated that the industry is stressful and were more conditional about recommending a career in insurance to a friend. More than half (54%) would leave the industry for a better work-life balance.
About the Survey
Vertafore said it got 1,036 respondents and exactly 1,000 of those were from people who identified as working at an independent agency (additional responses came from MGA and carrier personnel). The results were gathered from an anonymous, voluntary digital survey that consisted of 31 questions. Vertafore solicited responses via email to its U.S. agency customer base as well as via social media. It opened the survey on Dec. 10 2020 and closed it on Jan. 4, 2021.
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