Hiring has long been a challenge for independent insurance agency leaders.
In the previous Agent for the Future report Hiring the Next Generation of Independent Insurance Agents, we wrote about the talent shortage in the insurance industry, and how agencies were recruiting new staff members in a job market that had companies competing for talent.
In 2023, the talent shortage in insurance remains. The 2023 Agency Growth Study by Liberty Mutual found that more than half of agency principals said finding and recruiting talent was their biggest management challenge.
However, the job market in the U.S. is shifting. Uncertain economic outlooks are causing corporations to pull back on hiring. At the same time, large-scale layoffs have put many experienced employees back into the job market.
The current economy may offer opportunities for independent insurance agencies. Agencies that are looking to hire can show what they have to offer to potential candidates from outside the industry.
And with big shifts in employee expectations over the last few years, it’s also a good time for agency leaders to re-examine strategies for employee engagement and retention.
What insurance talent wants
So what do current and potential agency employees want in a job?
The research team at Liberty Mutual recently surveyed more than 1,100 independent insurance agency leaders and team members for the 2023 Agency Growth Study. As part of the survey, we asked agency employees about the characteristics of their ideal employment situation.
The answers reveal key benefits and perks agency leaders can offer to attract and retain top talent. Offering these to employees may help increase employee engagement and job satisfaction. And advertising these benefits in job postings may help attract candidates from outside the industry, as well.
Competitive pay, job stability and flexibility have become table stakes for companies looking to hire top-tier candidates
Our research also shows that insurance agency talent wants to work for companies that invest in their careers, support them as a whole person and do good in their communities. Bolstering these benefits and advertising them in job postings can help agencies attract employees who are the best fit for their agencies – from within or outside the insurance industry.
Flexible hours and work location
The impact of the pandemic made flexibility a baseline expectation for employees across industries.
Overall, independent insurance agencies are a good place for flexibility. Our research found that 77% of agency staff members are satisfied with the flexibility their agency allows.
However, there are still disconnects on how agency employees and agency leaders view remote and hybrid work. Agency employees would prefer to work from home more than they do. And agency employees are more likely than leaders to say they are more productive, happier and have a better work-life balance when they work from home.
This disconnect suggests that agency leaders need to continue open conversations with their staff members about flexibility and remote work. There are many different approaches to flexibility. It doesn’t have to look the same between different agencies, and staff members may have different needs and preferences for flexibility.
Opening up conversations can help agency leaders understand the perspectives of staff members and find solutions that work for the business and the employees.
The 2023 Agency Growth Study found that insurance agency employees list community involvement and opportunities to help people among the top things they want in a job.
This sets agency employees apart from employees in other industries. When compared to an additional Liberty Mutual Survey of 633 U.S. workers, insurance agency employees are more than 9x more likely than employees in other industries to list community involvement as a top characteristic they look for in a job. They are nearly twice as likely as employees in other industries to list opportunities to help people as something they look for in their work.
While the larger population may not be as likely to pinpoint community involvement as a job need, they do want their work to have deeper meaning. Our previous report highlighted that the next generation of talent want to work for companies with strong values and purpose. According to a study by Zety, more than 60% of Gen Z job hunters look for a company that has a purpose beyond making a profit.
Giving back to communities is part of how independent insurance agents enact their values and bring more purpose to their work. Research from Liberty Mutual and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America found that the vast majority of independent agents donate to charity, and many offer paid time off for their employees to volunteer.
Advertising community involvement in job postings could help independent insurance agents attract candidates who share their agency’s values and desire to make a positive impact. And telling stories of how insurance agencies do good in their communities can help attract younger generations to the industry.
To learn how to amplify your agency’s impact and reach, check out Agent Giving’s Community Giving Guide.Learn More
Our research found that one in four agency employees is a parent to young children, including more than half of millennial team members. Agency employees want their employers to support them with paid time off when they start a family. Nearly half of agency employees list parental leave among the top things they want in a job.
Companies in the U.S. are not mandated to provide paid family leave. U.S. companies give an average of only 29 days of maternity leave, even though UNICEF recommends six months of leave for new parents. So, offering parental leave can give insurance agencies a competitive edge in attracting new talent.
Family leave can also help retain employees. As we explored in our latest report on women in independent insurance agencies, women often take on the bulk of caretaking responsibilities, and becoming a parent can be a pivotal point in a woman’s career. Women make up nearly 60% agency employees, and benefits such as flexibility and parental leave can be especially important in retaining women and supporting their career growth.
Insurance is a long-standing industry, and it tends to offer more stability and job security than other industries.
A report from The Jacobson Group found that the unemployment rate in insurance was just 1.4% in February 2023, compared with a 3.6% overall unemployment rate in the U.S. Insurance also has lower rates of job hopping than other private-sector industries, which suggests higher job satisfaction. When employees take a job in the insurance industry, they tend to stay in the role longer than workers in other industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the tough job market candidates are facing in 2023, stability is a selling point. Showing off the multitude of stable career options in insurance can help agencies attract job candidates from outside the industry.
Continuing education opportunities and career growth
Offering career guidance and compelling career paths is another important way for insurance agencies to attract and retain the next generation of talent.
The 2023 Agency Growth Study found that 57% of millennial and Gen Z agency employees aspire to be a leader in their agency. Sixty-two percent listed “inspiring leadership to provide mentorship and career guidance” as the top characteristic they want in a job. Yet only 42% said their manager is actively developing them for leadership.
To attract and retain fresh talent, insurance agencies should offer career development opportunities such as mentorship programs, networking opportunities and continuing education and training.
Independent insurance agencies have a lot to offer to job candidates from within or outside the industry. Getting involved in the community and providing benefits such as flexibility, parental leave and continuing education can help agencies attract and retain top-tier talent. When recruiting and creating job postings, agencies should be sure to advertise these top benefits that candidates look for.