Industry the September 2023 issue

Want New Talent?

Rethink your hiring strategies.
Sponsored by Nationwide Posted on August 30, 2023

Finding and servicing clients in an ever-changing environment can be a large enough obstacle in itself for firms. Now increased hiring challenges have recently mounted on top of existing pressures. As firms strive to find the employees they need to ensure successful operations, it’s no surprise that the nature of the employment market and best practices for hiring have changed.

Understanding Current Hiring Challenges

The unemployment rate continues to trend very low while wage growth in many industries remains elevated—suggesting the labor market remains tight. As such, here are some common hiring challenges facing the insurance industry today.

Meeting the increasing demands of workers—Firms are finding themselves in a candidate-driven employment market, which has drastically changed traditional hiring practices. Labor shortages across industries mean that candidates have many options and the ability to increase their employment demands to align with their job priorities. The main job priorities of today’s workforce—including that of the insurance sector—widely vary, but there are some common desires. These priorities include:

  • Having workplace flexibility (e.g., remote work and flexible scheduling)
  • Getting career advancement opportunities
  • Receiving competitive benefits and perks
  • Working for an employer that values diversity and inclusion
  • Working for an employer with similar values as their own.

Finding workers with specific skill sets—Attracting job candidates isn’t simply a numbers game; many firms are looking for talent with specific skill sets. The growing integration of more digital applications and virtual tools than ever before means having a workforce with technical skills has become more necessary to effectively execute and extract value from technology-driven business models.

Attracting the next generation of workers—The U.S. workforce is rapidly aging. In fact, the share of employees over the age of 55 is expected to rise to nearly 25% by 2024. As many older workers retire, firms have been struggling to attract a new generation of workers. While offering workplace flexibility is one way to attract younger workers, this is not a one-size-fits-all solution. After all, 40% of college students and recent graduates still prefer in-person work, while others want to work either in a hybrid model (39%) or remotely (19%).

In my role supporting distribution and strategic engagement with some of Nationwide’s largest trading partners, I can tell you that attracting the next generation of talent is front of mind for everyone. Creating a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion ensures that new voices have a seat at the table to help our industry evolve and improve. 

Understanding current hiring challenges and what prospective employees are looking for can help inform how to adjust hiring strategies to meet the needs of today’s workforce and attract top talent.

As a key part of the hiring process, the hiring and onboarding experience is an employee’s first look at a firm’s culture, and it should also focus on preparing a new employee to succeed.

Adjusting Hiring Strategies

As firms strive to understand trends that may influence the employment market, the actionable next step is adopting a hiring strategy that aligns with the desires of prospective employees. Now is the time to view hiring as a core part of business operations, as hiring goes hand in hand with overall strategy and success.

Here are some ideas for rethinking hiring strategies:

Offer remote and flexible work options. Remote and hybrid work arrangements may not have been a big part of operations prior to the pandemic, but determining whether employees will be eligible to work remotely is a critical factor that will influence recruiting and hiring strategies. While remote work isn’t feasible for all positions, it’s essential to consider such arrangements when developing hiring strategies. Offering remote work options can help broaden talent pools, allowing recruitment in new markets. With fewer geographical restrictions, remote work options may even help establish more diverse candidate pools. With the hybrid model, it’s more important to be mindful of how the office is configured. At Nationwide, many of our office spaces have been updated with open, flexible floor plans where our associates can connect and provide a more welcoming space for visitors.

Prioritize branding. A firm’s brand is the employment market’s perception of the organization as an employer. Seventy-two percent of worldwide recruiting leaders agreed that branding significantly impacts hiring. Strong branding can result in various benefits, including a lower cost per hire, more qualified applicants and—in some cases—lower turnover rates. Consider taking steps to improve by highlighting the strengths of the workplace, consistently addressing the needs of today’s workforce, and using a range of channels to connect with candidate pools.

Evaluate a university recruiting strategy. As institutions provide new graduates year-round, universities can help find younger workers and fill technology-related skill set needs. Partnering with universities can often be mutually beneficial, as firms can consider steps such as attending career fairs, posting on job boards, and developing relationships with the career services center.

When working on your strategy, consider focusing on how a career in insurance helps others. Mark Berven, Nationwide P&C president and chief operating officer, shares that recent graduates may be surprised by all that an insurance career offers, including the ability to serve others and ways to make an impact.

“Working in insurance has appeals beyond the typical job-related perks, like a competitive salary and good benefits,” Berven says. “In the insurance industry, we’re given the opportunity to help protect people every day. Whether it’s using telematics to help drivers be safer on the road, providing loss control services to help business owners prevent claims before they happen, or responding with humanitarian relief in the aftermath of a hurricane, it’s our job to be there. I like to say, ‘Protection is our purpose.’ And that feels pretty good.”

Address employee caregiving challenges. Many employees (both current and prospective) have caregiving challenges that can limit their overall job flexibility—a reality that has become increasingly prevalent since the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Providing employees with childcare assistance or creating partnerships with daycare or after-school services can yield a high return on investment for agencies. To that end, again offering scheduling flexibility or remote work options can allow many employees to work while still meeting their personal needs.

Create a candidate-driven hiring and onboarding process. If recruitment processes aren’t user-friendly, candidates may explore alternative options. Such processes can include how candidates apply for job roles, submit résumés and interview for positions. Candidates should be able to engage in these processes in a variety of ways. These processes may even extend to the onboarding experience. As a key part of the hiring process, the hiring and onboarding experience is an employee’s first look at a firm’s culture, and it should also focus on preparing a new employee to succeed.

The need to implement these initiatives and the feasibility of doing so will vary by firm. In any case, these initiatives can help effectively navigate the current employment market and develop a skilled, successful workforce. Visit Nationwide’s Agency Forward to learn about trends in the workplace and strategies for attracting and retaining talent, along with industry insights to help you prepare for the future.

Tony Beal Head, Nationwide National Partners Read More

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