It’s old news at this point, if you’ll pardon the pun: The insurance industry is facing a succession battle, with a record number of employees aging out of the workforce and needing to be replaced. The challenge of filling the gap opens up a number of opportunities beyond hiring younger generations; it’s a chance to change the way people outside insurance view the industry and its labor force. It’s time to shake things up.
“The need to offset the loss of an aging, extremely knowledgeable workforce and bridge the gap are the drivers for change,” says Brenda Leadley, senior vice president and head of human resources America for Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty. “We’ve discovered a need to better market our business, specifically highlighting interesting insurance opportunities.”
Marketing is where many are starting when it comes to closing the talent gap. They’re reaching out to millennial and Gen Z students and workers in the myriad career fields whose skill sets are needed within the industry.
“The newest work generation, Generation Z, has job motivation factors — stability, strong income, opportunity to advance in an organization — that align well with what the insurance industry can offer,” explains Ruth Sencio, vice president of global talent at ReSource Pro. “The industry is going to need to learn how to connect with Gen Z and share the opportunities available.”
Traditionally perceived as, well, traditional, insurance needs a revamp to attract younger and more diverse talent into a field many outside the industry don’t realize can be intriguing, fulfilling and fun.
Word of the Day: Stodgy
“It’s an exciting field,” author and consultant Troy Korsgaden tells Danielle Ling in a recent PropertyCasualty360 podcast about the career opportunities that exist in the insurance industry. “The problem is we made it not so exciting. We kind of made it stodgy over the years.”
Michelle Ensor, digital marketing manager at ReSource Pro and a millennial successfully recruited by the insurance industry, agrees: “The insurance industry is not known for its glitz and glamour. People often associate it with old-school, stodgy environments and boring desk work.”
Leadley adds. “Unfortunately, our challenge is the industry itself. Most don’t grow up dreaming of working in the insurance industry, and even fewer have a true understanding of the number of opportunities available.”
Korsgaden believes we’ve done a disservice to our industry by making it not so much fun. Insurance entities that recognize the need to better market the industry as a whole have a competitive edge when it comes to recruitment.
“We can’t let our reputation alone speak for itself,” explains Melissa Jones, vice president of human resources at CSAA Insurance Group. “For us, it’s a different way of thinking about marketing insurance companies that I think is important.”
Ensor says, “Insurance is the polar opposite [of stodgy and boring]. The pace is more akin to finance and tech.”
And those finance and tech associations, insurers are finding, are what will help them stand out in the marketplace. Millennials are familiar with the value of working hard that drove the generations of workers before them. But like their Gen Z counterparts, they also recognize the value in working smart, and the opportunities they’re exploring are those that lean heavily toward the latter value.
“When people graduate from college they aren’t saying ‘I want to go work for an insurance company,’” Jones explains. “So, we’re reframing our recruiting efforts to better mirror the sexy opportunities our potential candidates are seeing in technology.”
Going Big Tech
The U.S. insurance industry employed 2.6 million people in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. “This is 115 times the number of people employed at Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter and Yahoo combined,” explains Leadley. “Our competitors are those industries deemed more exciting and forward-thinking.
“We have to teach [younger generations] about the exciting and forward-thinking opportunities available within the insurance industry,” she adds.
There’s no question: It’s vital for insurers to communicate just how varied careers are in the industry, including in the tech and finance spheres. A candidate with little to no knowledge of the industry might perceive insurance to be made up of mostly sales professionals, where many opportunities also lie. However, data and actuarial scientists, software engineers and investment analysts all have spots within the industry, as do human resources, marketing and training professionals.
“If a recent grad is looking at an opportunity to work for a major technology company in the area or work in insurance, more than likely they were going to take the former,” says Jones. “But we’re changing that perception by showing how innovative insurance companies today can offer the same experience a candidate would get with a big tech company.
“Like the tech industry, we have careers in data science, actuarial and innovation,” Jones continues. “We’re working on the impact of artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and emerging technologies on insurance. If data scientists knew the amount of data they would have access to within our organization and what they could do with it, they’d be in heaven. We have work to do to help job seekers understand the technological possibilities that come with working in insurance.”
“Many young people aren’t aware that we need engineers, investigators, and economists, in addition to underwriters, who can understand the risks associated with space travel or are able to calculate the value of an athlete’s arm,” adds Leadley.
“There are so many roles in our industry,” Kitty Ambers, chief growth officer at AVYST, adds. “There are jobs that can maximize the experience and talent of most anyone if they’ll just give a career in insurance a chance.”