Statistics on workforce demographics suggest that insurance companies are anticipating a talent challenge in the future. Almost 50 percent of workers in insurance are older than 45, and a full quarter of the industry’s workforce is anticipated to reach retirement by next year. By 2020, the U.S. insurance industry expects 400,000 positions to be open.i
To overcome these challenges, the industry should seek out talent eager to grow along with us. From millennials and members of Generation Z, to military veterans returning to the workforce, to senior leaders pursuing new career paths, workers motivated to learn can help the industry thrive. To forge the future of risk analytics, we need to assemble tech-literate teams that rapidly draw out insights from vast quantities of data. Our future workforce should be interested in making constant improvements to traditional underwriting approaches and claims processes using new, reliable streams of information rather than ‘checking off boxes.’
We asked AIG’s Jennie Anderson, Global Head of Talent Acquisition, which actions the insurance industry can take now to proactively strengthen our talent pipeline, grow our workforce, and continue to meet our clients’ needs. “Talent is an annuity you secure for future business growth,” says Jennie. “You have to plan ahead.”
These five strategies can help the insurance industry build a stronger workforce and reduce the real risk of running out of talent:
1. Educate early-career talent about what insurance does – and how it changes the world. Attracting early-career talent can help the insurance industry grow. “Early-career recruits think that insurance is very interesting and progressive upon learning about our products, global scope, and business scale,” explains Jennie. “The goal is to inform and educate them about the benefits of insurance to help this key demographic group consider a career in insurance.”
“We have to speak to a purpose,” says Michelle Tucker, Global Head of Analyst Training at AIG. In our Analyst Training program, members of the company help educate early-career talent about risk management and how insurance helps our clients. “It’s an uncertain world. Insurance can provide some degree of certainty as a safety net supporting people’s lives and business pursuits. That idea really resonates with the individuals that we’re bringing into our organization.”
For example, a group of AIG analysts were excited to study the company’s efforts to develop technology that helps protect athletes against concussions. Michelle points to the intersection of “technology, risk management, and protection” as an area that can be “particularly intriguing” to early career-talent. “We try to break the bounds of the traditional mindset around insurance, and that just comes from building a broader awareness about what these interplays are.”
Millennials and members of Generation Z may find it particularly exciting to see how insurance fulfills a broader role in society. In a cross-generational survey, 70 percent of millennials and 74 percent of Generation Z said that their jobs should hold a greater purpose than bringing home a salary.ii Millennials “do not want to be put into silos,” says Insurance Journal. “So the [insurance] industry must adopt a broader, more risk management perspective and find ways to expose young people to the societal good that the industry does.” iii
2. Reach out to diverse talent and leverage new tools to broaden your reach. Increasing diversity can help the insurance industry better understand our clients’ challenges and issues, and more effectively serve individuals and businesses around the world. Jennie says, “Look at new ways to source talent, and expand to all areas of the world.” Targeted talent databases and digital sourcing tools can help insurers to seek out wider and more diverse populations of candidates. Digital selection solutions such as video interviewing allow access to potential candidates anywhere in the world. “With today’s recruitment technology, you can widen your recruiting pool for skilled talent and help reduce unconscious bias in the interview process.”
Insurers with diversity of talent can better anticipate ways to best serve clients. Recently, leaders in AIG’s LGBT & Allies Employee Resource Group helped AIG develop a new travel insurance product designed to meet the unique needs of LGBT travelers. When insurers include a diversity of perspectives in decision making, we become more able to deliver “equity of safety to clients,” says Walter Hurdle, AIG’s Global Head of Inclusion and Staffing. Insurers’ diversity and inclusion initiatives can help send the message—to clients and to top talent—“that we do treat people, regardless of difference, in an equal way.”
3. Think ahead: Hire for the culture and the skills you’ll need tomorrow. As insurance, technology, and the nature of work change, there is a risk that companies may hire for yesterday’s needs instead of tomorrow’s. Says Jennie, “Our goal is to build an environment of culture carriers.” The insurance industry should turn the focus to “recruiting people who will want to stay and build a career” within its culture.
To develop its next generation of leaders, the insurance industry will need to attract STEM-savvy, socially intelligent individuals with growth mindsets. We will need to attract talent that can analyze large datasets to identify insights into risks, build statistical models to improve underwriting, and harness the power of new technologies to create business results. Yet it is equally important that we hire people who can handle the ambiguities of business complexity and constant change.
Michelle and Walter both cite “emotional intelligence” as an essential quality that insurers must seek in our future talent. Our industry should also aim to attract and hire people who are “able to stretch and grow beyond the knowledge they currently have,” says Michelle. As data and technology help our industry achieve new possibilities, we will need to hire people who are more interested in learning and growing than in repeating the way things were yesterday.
4. Create learning and development experiences to grow and retain future leaders. Investing in your future workforce doesn’t mean just hiring externally. Jennie says, “Build learning platforms and development experiences to help current employees progress in their careers.” Current employees need experiential, virtual and instructor-led learning opportunities that develop their “fluency” in multiple disciplines, helping prepare them for a range of roles and experiences. “Promotion and mobility of talent from within are important steps to retain and develop your future leaders.”
Insurers hoping to attract and retain talent will need to provide opportunities for them to learn and advance. According to a 2016 Gallup report, 87 percent of millennials said that development is important in their careers.iv And when applying for jobs, millennials seek the opportunity to learn and grow, even above the quality of management or compensation.v Of millennials polled in The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey who are likely to leave their employers within the next two years, 71 percent felt unsatisfied with how their leadership skills are being cultivated.vi Generation Z shares this desire to learn and grow: In an April 2017 LaSalle Network survey of 6,000 new college graduates, 70 percent ranked “opportunity for growth” as their top priority in a position.vii
As digital natives, early-career talent may be excited by new ways to learn, and especially by activities that involve technology, self-direction, and collaboration. From rapidly searching for information on the internet, to studying new languages on apps, to watching video lectures through open online courses, digital natives are eager to learn, synthesize, and share new information. Insurers can encourage this natural drive to learn in the workplace by replacing quick training with ongoing, sustainable educational experiences that build valuable skills.
Insurers can engage digital natives by providing active, self-paced learning; by “gameifying” learning; by giving learners real-time feedback; and by allowing them to learn from their peers. Mentoring and job-shadowing programs that invite early-career talent to connect with senior employees and explore a variety of roles within an organization can help develop leadership skills, as can leadership development groups and education.
5. Celebrate our strengths on social media. Insurers can use social media to increase recognition and provide a more transparent view of the opportunities we offer. Using social media to showcase accomplishments, empathy, and business success can positively influence perception of our industry. One recent AIG social media campaign paired photos of our employees with quotes about why they find working at AIG rewarding.
Additionally, every week on #TakeOverTuesday, we answer questions on Twitter to ease first-job jitters and show new hires how teams at AIG collaborate, reflect, and grow. Says Ryan, a Commercial Underwriting Analyst, “No one expects you to be an expert. You’re here to learn.” This reflects AIG’s commitment to developing a culture of learning and cultivating the next generation of leaders in insurance.
*The content herein is intended for general informational purposes only.
i “How to Interest Millennials in Insurance Careers.” Insurance Journal, Wells Publishing, May 1, 2015. Accessed April 21, 2017.
ii “Move Over Millennials: Gen Z is about to hit the workforce.” Monster, Aug. 2016. Accessed July 20, 2017.
iii “How to Interest Millennials in Insurance Careers.” Insurance Journal, Wells Publishing, May 1, 2015. Accessed April 21, 2017.
iv “What Millennials Want from Work and Life.” Gallup Business Journal, Gallup, May 11, 2016. Accessed July 20, 2017.
v Rigoni, Brandon, & Adkins, Amy. “What Millennials Want from a New Job.” Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business Publishing, May 11, 2016. Accessed 20 July, 2017.
vi The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey. Deloitte, January 2016. Accessed July 20, 2017.
vii What the Class of 2017 Wants. LaSalle Network, May 2017. Accessed August 23, 2017.