If your insurance agency is like most insurance agencies across the country, one of your primary goals this year is to continue your efforts to respond appropriately to all the changes that came with 2020. Those changes included a global pandemic and an attendant economic fallout that radically shifted both consumer expectations and the way insurance businesses operated practically overnight.
In a recent survey by Deloitte’s Center for Financial Services, 48 percent of responding insurance executives reported that the pandemic showed just how unprepared their businesses had been to weather the unanticipated crisis. It seems clear that the insurance industry still faces significant obstacles to growth and profitability for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes your agency saw in 2020 was in the workplace itself, as you scrambled to provide a safe place for your employees to work – either by altering your office environment or by providing work-at-home arrangements for your staff.
As your staffing arrangement changed, you may have noted some deficiencies in your workforce. 2021 is a good time to address those deficiencies and improve your insurance business in the process.
Growing Your Business Starts with Growing Your Talent Bench
As is the case in all businesses that are sales- and service-oriented, success in the insurance business starts with the people you hire. There are, of course, some general rules to follow as you build and refine your hiring practices. Here are a few to keep in mind:
- Write specific, laser-focused job descriptions:The better you are at articulating what you really need from an applicant, the more likely you are to find a suitable match for the position you’re trying to fill. Be clear about the licenses, certifications, and skillset required for the job and use that critera to screen applicants prior to the interview process.
- Communicate early and often:Signal your intent to hire only candidates who are serious about the job by being serious about the recruiting process yourself. Communicate with candidates early in the process and nurture promising prospects at multiple touchpoints throughout the recruitment journey to begin assimilating them into your culture quickly.
- Use assessments as part of your screening process:Rather than simply relying on a “gut feeling,” consider using behavioral assessments as part of your screening process. Behavioral assessments can help you discover a candidate’s personality traits, workplace preferences, and key motivators. Armed with this knowledge, you can more accurately predict the likelihood of a candidate’s cultural fit and success with your agency.
- Hire for ability; train for potential:When hiring, choose candidates that can immediately fill the position for which you are hiring. In a time of rapid change such as the world is currently experiencing, to do less is to set your agency up for failure. At the same time, though, hire with an eye to the candidate’s potential for future growth with your agency. Remember that your ultimate goal is to grow and deepen your talent bench.
Special Considerations for a Remote Workforce
The Deloitte survey also revealed that the insurance industry is facing a decision regarding the future of the workplace in general, with companies choosing one of three possible routes: (1) planning that all employees will eventually return to a traditional office setting, (2) planning a hybrid approach with some employees in a traditional office while others work remotely, or (3) planning an exclusively remote work environment.
Each of these approaches comes with its own set of potential challenges and opportunities, and your insurance agency will have to make its own determination about which setting will best serve the needs of your employees and your clients.
However, no matter which way you choose, some factors to consider will be:
- How are other agencies in your area handling this issue? What are your competitors doing?
- If you choose to offer remote services, do you have the technology in place to serve your clients and enable your employees to succeed?
- Do you have a training program in place to support your employees, no matter where they are working?
- Is your agency culture able to sustain a distributed workforce if necessary?
- If you are planning to return completely to a traditional office setting, have you made the appropriate adjustments to the physical environment to ensure the safety of your employees and clients?
Diversity and Inclusion Still Matter
Last but not least, there is the matter of diversity and inclusion. Deloitte revealed that 61 percent of North American respondents to the survey reported that their company is focused on increasing the level of diversity in hiring, development, and leadership.
Why the big push for diversity and inclusion? Gartner predicts: “Through 2022, 75 percent of organizations with frontline decision-making teams reflecting a diverse and inclusive culture will exceed their financial targets.”
Diversity and inclusion also play a role in:
- Increasing employee productivity
- Driving innovation
- Attracting top talent
- Engaging and retaining employees over the long term
- Improving public perception of your brand
- Influencing client purchasing decisions
Let the American Agents Alliance Help
As you work this year to hire, develop, and retain a strong talent pool for your insurance agency, the American Agents Alliance can help. We work every day to give our members all the tools they need to achieve their professional goals and thrive, even in times of rapid change. Learn more about our membership benefits today.