For years now, attracting and hiring fresh talent has been one of the biggest challenges facing insurance agencies, and it’s only getting more urgent.
Half of the current insurance workforce is set to retire in the next 15 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, leaving 400,000 open positions. At the same time, less than 25% of the industry’s workforce is under 35.
As many agents head toward retirement, it’s crucial for independent agencies to attract new talent and invest in the next generation of leaders.
A new era of work
The last few years have brought about major changes in how people work and what they look for in a job. We’ve entered a new era of work, one where employees and potential hires have higher expectations of their employers.
The good news is that insurance agencies are well-positioned to meet many of those expectations. However, to better retain employees and attract the next generation of talent, agencies will need to embrace some new ways of working.
As agencies find a way forward in a world reshaped by the pandemic, now is a great time for agency leaders to reexamine their workplace practices and strategies for recruiting and hiring.
A crucial but challenging time for recruitment
The 2022 Agency Growth Study
At Agent for the Future, we want all independent insurance agencies to succeed far into the future. Effective hiring and talent management are a critical part of that.
The research team at Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance recently surveyed more than 730 independent insurance agents to learn about their strategies for growth. The 2022 Agency Growth Study covered how agencies are using digital tools, which emerging trends they think will have the biggest impact on their agencies, the tactics they are using to grow and much more.
As part of the survey, we asked agents about their recruiting practices and plans for remote work. In this report, we’ll explore the state of hiring in independent insurance agencies and dig into how agencies can attract and retain the next generation of talent.
Attractive workplace cultures don’t just happen, they are created.
As a new generation enters the workforce and employee expectations continue to rise, those agencies that actively prioritize people, create values-driven cultures and offer the flexibility employees want will outgrow and out-hire their competitors. Now is the time for independent agents to get more intentional about their approach to finding and keeping talent.
The state of recruiting in independent agencies
Top recruiting methods
More agencies are recruiting than before the pandemic
In our 2017 survey of independent insurance agencies, 35% of respondents said their agency hadn’t been recruiting. In our 2021 survey, only 25% of respondents said their agency wasn’t recruiting. Nearly 60% of the agencies we surveyed were actively hiring within the past two years, while 18% said they were recruiting but hadn’t hired in the last two years. These numbers suggests that most agencies are actively looking for potential candidates, which is good news for job seekers but may create more competition for agencies looking to fill roles.
When it comes to recruiting tactics, referrals and networking were far and away the top methods, with 80% of actively recruiting agencies using them to find candidates. 40% were advertising online and/or using social media postings to find candidates.
At the producer level, agencies were hiring at roughly the same rate they were in 2017, with more than half saying they had hired at least one producer in the past two years. However, agencies were hiring more support staff – 67% had hired one or more service and support staff member in the last two years, up from 56% who said the same in 2017.
Agency hires reflect the generational shifts that are happening in the workforce. Nearly half of new hires were millennials, and the percentage of Gen Z is increasing, with nearly one in four of agencies’ most recent hires being under the age of 25.
Interestingly, despite the challenges of finding talent, most of the agencies we surveyed were set on finding candidates locally. Just one-third of agency leaders were open to hiring agency staff from elsewhere in the country.
What the top agencies are doing
Our research found that the most forward-thinking, growth-focused agencies are taking different approaches to recruiting and hiring.
When we asked survey respondents about their agency’s plans for growth, roughly one-third said that their agency is aiming for aggressive growth, such as doubling the agency size in five years.
Our research reveals that the agencies aiming for aggressive growth are growing at a rate more than double that of agencies that are planning for slow and steady growth – with an average revenue growth of 22% year-over-year, as opposed to 9% growth for those aiming for slow and steady growth.
These growth-focused agencies stand out from the rest in their hiring strategies, digital use, workplace cultures and more.
When it comes to hiring and recruiting, growth-focused agencies are hiring more, with an average of two-and-a-half new producers and three new support staff in the past two years, as opposed to an average of one each in slow and steady growth agencies.
Growth-focused agencies are slightly more likely to be hiring younger candidates. Nearly 80% of most recent hires in growth-focused agencies were Gen Z or millennials. They are also more focused on diversity and more open to hiring outside of their geographic area.
Agencies that aim for aggressive growth are growing faster
Average annual revenue growth
Average annual revenue growth
How growth-focused agencies are recruiting and hiring
Click through to the next page to learn more about what Gen Z looks for in a workplace and how agencies can attract and retain the next generation.