Winning the war for talent in the Insurance Industry isn’t easy. This piece by Helena Rosenstein, (pictured) Senior Associate at Stevens & Bolton LLP, looks at how insurance brands can draw the best people into their company – and keep them.
The Insurance Industry is a significant employer in the UK with over 300,000 employees in a wide range of roles. Yet it seems that relatively few younger workers are deliberately choosing a career in this industry, resulting in an ageing workforce and a significant skills shortage. Indeed, PWC recently asked financial services executives to choose from a list of the biggest risks that could prevent their companies from achieving their 2022 growth goals: 55% cited talent acquisition and retention challenges and just 26% said they expect these talent shortages to ease by the end of 2022.
So how can the insurance industry attract and retain the best and brightest talent in the post-Covid world? Obviously, it needs to both attract staff in the first place and keep the ones it already has, but this is easier said and done in an industry perhaps unfairly but widely seen as reluctant to modernise. There are, however, steps firms can action to ensure they are on the front foot.
Review remuneration packages
It won’t be a surprise to hear that remuneration will be important to attracting and maintaining a satisfied workforce, especially given the rapidly rising cost of living. Employers would be wise to review benefits packages and benchmark salaries, to ensure that their offering remains competitive, particularly against other financial service providers, and to consider implementing bonuses and other incentive schemes where these are not already in place. It’s also worth reviewing existing bonus schemes to ensure they are still in line with the market; even small changes to elements such as the payment date or payments in instalments may make a difference to retention.
However, new employers are more and more willing to offer signing on bonuses to compensate employees for the loss of a bonus due from the current employer, so this is not the barrier to leaving that it might have previously been. The flip side to this is that if the employer is willing to pay a signing on bonus, this can be the final incentive that a candidate needs to accept an offer.
Ensure there are opportunities for career progression
Money is not everything and there are plenty of other reasons why people chose to join a company or decide to leave.
Often, employees leave when they feel under-stimulated and desire a new challenge. They may also look elsewhere when they lack a clear path for career development and cannot envisage a future in the organisation. This has historically been an issue for the insurance industry as the perception can be one of a stagnant workplace with strict hierarchies and little flexibility in terms of changing roles. But employees, especially those at an earlier stage in their career, often place great value on opportunities for training and career development, including additional qualifications, mentoring, secondments, greater
responsibility and on-the-job training and they don’t want to be pigeon-holed into one specialism without the option later to broaden their experience. And in fact, this multi skilled approach can be very useful to the employer, especially as the industry becomes ever more automated and eliminates much of the routine and manual aspects of certain roles. This means that those employees will need less of their specific technical skills and more of those softer skills gained from wider experience. Plus, this more fluid approach can help to create a more dynamic and innovative workforce which, in and of itself, is more attractive to modern employees, thus further helping to successfully recruit the next generation and keep the existing workforce.
To reap the benefits from such an approach, open communication and regular dialogue with staff are essential for managers to understand what motivates and engages their staff, and how their career aspirations may be met by the organisation. This also increases a perception of being a valued employee and will often encourage them to stay. Alongside this, employers need to undertake a full review of what their needs might be, not just now, but in the long term, in order to close the skills gap that they are facing and to put the right training and development opportunities in place.
In the post-pandemic world, flexibility has become key and the emphasis on technology has mushroomed. While some employers have embraced this seismic change by implementing remote or hybrid working arrangements, others in the industry have been resistant, citing concerns about productivity and supervision which, given the post-pandemic evidence, tend not to stack up. But it is not enough to just have a flexible working policy; flexible working needs to be actively championed, with senior leadership providing successful examples of it in practice. Part-time workers need to be encouraged, not simply tolerated, with equal opportunities for career advancement and employers need to identify and address unsustainable working cultures which exact long working hours and high levels of stress. Other industries have been quick to consider the benefits of a ‘results’ model of working rather than a ‘time spent’ model and it is something well worth considering if insurance companies want to modernise and become attractive employers.
But even flexibility and paying well is not sufficient. Recruitment and retention is increasingly about hearts and minds: modern employees want a bigger sense of purpose and value alignment with their employer and will leave organisations where they feel invisible; where they cannot relate to senior management; and where their values are not aligned with those of the business, especially in relation to environmental and social issues.
To retain staff in the current climate, employers also need to make effective inroads into creating a genuinely diverse and inclusive culture, rather than simply paying lip service to current trends and participating in high profile initiatives. A major advantage of this, especially for insurance companies, is the broadening out of the available talent pool for recruitment purposes and the concurrent broadening of perspective which, in turn, will facilitate the development of the dynamic and innovative culture that they are seen, rightly or wrongly, to lack.
As the war for talent intensifies, the insurance industry needs to take urgent steps to engage with its workforce and find out what motivates them and engenders their loyalty and commitment. It needs to encourage open channels of communication, invest in the development of its staff, embrace new technology and foster a supportive, flexible, inclusive and diverse culture. This will be critical not only to retaining existing talent, but also in attracting new talent; ultimately determining which organisations triumph.