The pandemic fuelled overnight changes in traditional employment models. Three years on, the UK insurance sector is at a fork in the road – revert back to the safe and familiar days of old or journey onwards to a reinvented workplace strategy and culture. The latter is the right (and more attractive) way forward. The carriers that have begun to reinvent themselves will be able to attract and retain talent in the long run.
What is the state of the sector heading into 2023? And how comes the war for talent is still raging on? Well, 72% of insurance carriers plan to grow their workforce next year, according to our latest Insurance Sector Market Intelligence Report, and just 3% of insurers anticipate staff reductions. All data intelligence suggests that recruiting difficulty in the insurance sector is at a thirteen year high heading into 2023. Roles in technology, actuarial and analytics are the toughest to fill. This year, average attrition reached 14.2% with some of the UK’s top 15 insurance carriers surpassing 18%. In short: Workplace reinvention is the key to insurance carriers winning the war for talent.
Flexibility, enriching work projects, financial wellness and ED&I now set the parameters for applying to, staying in or leaving a job. Once deemed employment luxuries these considerations are now mainstream non-negotiables by which people filter out potential employers. The insurance industry is not alone in navigating these talent attraction and retention hurdles. But an aging workforce and a stuffy, conservative reputation are compounding the challenges insurers face when competing for the skills of the future. A broader competition pool is exacerbating things further – carriers aren’t just competing with each other for talent but with more pioneering and forward thinking industries.
Three areas insurance organisations should consider when embarking on cultural reinvention:
When it comes to the optimal balance of flexibility vs productivity I think most organisations are still figuring it out! On almost every client call I’m asked “what is everyone else doing about working from home?”. Anecdotally, I see the sector heading toward a hybrid model which targets more days in the office. This isn’t conducive to what candidates are looking for though. Generally, candidates want more flexibility than what the sector is prepared to give! But it’s not about the number of days, it’s about the motivation. Just asking people to come back to in-person working for the sake of utilising an expensive office space won’t cut it. Instead, I recommend focusing on the advantages of being in the office like collaboration, problem-solving and reduced screen time. Those carriers that can offer a wellbeing benefit like free breakfast or subsidised travel costs for commuters will have the competitive edge.
Many insurers are focused on modernisation and digitisation in order to grow but are facing significant challenges in sourcing the talent necessary to deliver growth. To close the skills gap leaders must give their talent strategy the same intensity and rigor as any other business plan. My advice is to first identify your skills gaps, translate these skills into target talentpools, commit tech and resource investments so you can effectively nurture your talent pipeline; and coach your recruiting community on skills-based hiring. It may also be the year to re-evaluate your stance on implementing an outsourced recruitment provider. Many of the insurers currently winning the war for talent have engaged an RPO to manage their full recruitment lifecycle and are feeling the benefit of an external provider guiding them through an reinvention of EVP, delivering differentiating approaches to onboarding and new hire acclimation as well as Diverse Hiring audits.
In order to shake it’s stuffy and conservative reputation the insurance sector needs to move away from hiring in its own image – the status quo has no place in 2023! Revaluating hiring criteria will open new talent channels through broader skills-based hiring. Hong Kong SAR’s booming insurance industry is a brilliant example of this working. Several large insurers hired flight attendants who were out of work during the pandemic and found them to excel in their new careers because of their hospitality training and experience in dealing with customers face-to-face. I’ve seen first-hand how the early adopters of widening hiring criteria are the insurers that have also minimised bias in their recruitment processes. The two initiatives go hand-in-hand!
The seismic shift of forced remote working in 2020 propelled the insurance sector closer to future of work, and now each organisation has to decide what elements of their workforce strategies to stick or twist – an evolutionary, not a revolutionary process. Cultural reinvention is not a one-and-done strategy but rather a journey and leaders should be reassured by that.
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