Beyond Recruiting: Attract Innovation Torchbearers

To prevail in today’s evolving talent economy, insurers must bridge the gap between the different generations—attract young talent while keeping their experienced, tenured talent supported and motivated.

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A fundamental shift in the mix of insurance talent is taking place as a direct result of the data and analytics savvy insurers have been building. Fueled by advanced uses of AI and ML, and automation initiatives, today technology jobs rank fifth on the list of in-demand insurance jobs and according to IBM. The number of insurance data analyst jobs is expected to increase almost 30 percent to 700,000 in 2020.

Despite this technological shift and high demand, getting buy-in from the sought-after new generation talent pool continues to be a major challenge for the industry. The 1 percent unemployment rate in insurance combined with the low percentage of young professionals seeking insurance as a career, makes it tough to recruit and keep this important talent pool. In fact, millennials in insurance tend to have a short tenure of 12-18 months on average.

The competition for talent is fierce but there are ways insurers can set themselves up to win.

Identify and Accommodate the New Talent Ask

The need to get in-demand talent excited about insurance job opportunities goes beyond just filling roles and building a roster of talented individuals. Changing the conversation to how today’s young talent are the torchbearers of tomorrow’s innovative insurance generation opens up ways to genuinely resonate with them.

Today’s workers are motivated by opportunities that promise a defined career path, align with their values and offer an engaging work culture – one that has diversity and inclusion at its core. An important part of inclusion is pay parity, and young professionals definitely take notice that even in 2018, women earned 85 percent of what men earned in the United States. While this shows the gender pay gap is closing, there’s much room for progress, and companies that address this proactively will stand out.

Insurers have the opportunity to improve their appeal to prospective hires by offering not just a job, but a career path, complete with growth and development opportunities. Equally important is for insurers to equip their managers with the tools needed to train and develop their employees.

Work-life balance is the buzzword of the day and becoming table stakes to compete for young talent. While in the 1980 film “9 to 5” notions of flexible work hours and job-sharing were pure fiction, today, an increasing number of professionals are looking for exactly these things to strike a better balance between their work and personal lives. Insurers must respond to these broader, fundamental employment shifts by creating part-time, short-term contracts, and freelance job opportunities. Fortunately, a number of insurers are already making adjustments to create such opportunities. The Jacobson Group and Ward Group’s 2018 Semi-Annual U.S. Insurance Labor Outlook Study found that 13 percent of insurers expect to increase temporary staff in the next 12 months.  

Fostering an Innovation Mindset

Tech companies raise the bar for others when it comes to showcasing an innovative, growth-focused work culture. Today, insurers are having difficulty finding data and analytics talent for reasons such as lack of interest in an insurance career, better pay in other industries or similar opportunities offered by tech startups. The industry’s branding problem is real, but this is where the intersection of insuretech investment and the stability of an insurer can be attractive to young professionals. But the innovation wave needs to come across loud and clear in how a company presents their values to prospective employees, along with the positive impact insurers deliver to policyholders in their time of need.

Adopting an innovation mindset is part of this journey. Similar to tech companies that have successfully done it before them, insurers can appeal to high-level talent by employing a mix of innovative tactics like experiential partnerships with schools and universities, innovation experiments as high visibility initiatives, gender-diversity programs, employee training opportunities and corporate social responsibility initiatives, among others.

Another important element of an innovation culture is to promote upskilling. For example, according to the 2018 Insurance Industry Employment and Hiring Outlook Survey, there is need for insurance talent mainly in sales, underwriting, customer services/admin, technology and claims. Insurers have the opportunity to train existing employees on some of these key skills and in doing so, combat the talent shortage problem, while creating an internal mobility opportunity for their employees.

Balancing Automation and Innovation

Insurers are increasingly automating business functions, in an effort to provide the seamless digital experience customers find in other facets of life and expect from their insurers. The great thing about automation of insurance functions like claims is that it frees existing employees to focus on other important jobs that need human attention. However, it also creates a demand for new talent to expand automation initiatives across other insurance functions in the organization and support automation at a large scale.

This is why it is important for insurers to strike the right balance between automation and innovation as they continue to build on their digital strategies.

To prevail in today’s evolving talent economy, insurers must bridge the gap between the different generations—attract young talent while keeping their experienced, tenured talent supported and motivated. It’s no small challenge but creating an engaging and positive workplace and ensuring that existing and future employees feel supported with the training and resources are all steps in the right direction.

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Kirstin Marr // Kirstin Marr is President of Valen Analytics, directing all aspects of the company’s daily operations. Prior to becoming president, Marr served as Valen’s Chief Marketing Officer. For six years, she led market strategy, brand awareness, innovative thought leadership, and direct marketing. Her efforts established Valen as a pioneer in predictive analytics for insurers focused on improving performance and meeting customer demands for transparency, responsiveness and fairness in risk management and business operations. Marr earned her Masters of Arts, International Communication from the University of Denver, and her BA from California State University-Chico.

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