When asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, chances are ‘insurance professional’ wasn’t your answer. And for many young adults considering which career path to follow, the insurance sector still isn’t on their radar. While the industry offers many opportunities to grow and develop careers, it remains challenging for insurance companies to attract the next generation of top talent. In fact, the degree of interest the Gen Z cohort (16 to 22 years of age) has for the sector has remained at 14% from 2015 to 2019, while those not interested at all has increased from 35% to 39%.1
As the workforce ages, the need to attract talent is becoming more acute. Today, nearly 30 percent of the P&C insurance industry’s workforce is over the age of 50, compared to only 23 percent in 2007, according to a study by The Insurance Institute of Canada. More than one in four workers, and one in three managers, are forecast to retire by 2027. The report states that given the high rate of retirement, the inflow of young workers is barely sufficient to match the outflow of older workers.2
While the sector isn’t on many job seekers’ radars, there are many rewarding reasons to choose a career in insurance. It offers opportunities for advancement, lifelong learning, stability, personal satisfaction and growth, and variety, to name just a few.3
As the workforce gap widens, developing a healthy pipeline of diverse talent will be crucial for the success and longevity of the industry. Here are a few ways companies can recruit and retain the right talent:
Create a company that employees are proud to work for: A positive workplace culture, great employee experience, and meaningful employee value proposition (EVP) all contribute to an enjoyable and fulfilling workplace. An EVP describes the unique benefits that employees get in return for their contributions at a company. At Sovereign Insurance®, for example, our EVP is ‘Purpose with Profit’; it puts people at the heart of everything we do and encourages everyone to make an impact. Bringing the EVP to life helps our employees feel proud to work for the company and allows us to remain competitive as an employer of choice. Not only does company pride help retain employees, but it also builds brand ambassadors who promote the company as a great place to work within their networks.
Think ahead when it comes to recruitment: Finding talent doesn’t just involve recruiting employees when they’re needed — it also involves building and evolving the workforce to ensure it doesn’t become obsolete. Companies should continually assess their workforce in terms of the talent they have today and the talent they’ll need in the future, whether it’s next year or 10 years from now. This includes identifying what skills and capabilities will be in demand and then proactively planning, hiring, and developing talent to ensure they’re ready to take on future challenges. This approach allows businesses to find ways to grow their internal talent, as well as identify gaps where they may need to hire outside talent.
Support employees’ growth and development: Demonstrating a commitment to career and personal growth is a powerful way to both attract and retain employees. Help employees build their skills and knowledge by providing educational and professional development, cross training, mentoring and coaching. In addition to career advancement, consider supporting internal job transfers between departments or between parent/subsidiary companies, to encourage growth, development, and innovation.
Implement an internship/Co-op program: Partnering with post-secondary institutions for internship / co-op work terms is a great way to scope new talent and transition them into full-time employment opportunities. Internships are an especially important opportunity to attract innovative talent as insurance companies embark on digital transformations and insure-techs revolutionize the digital space.
In addition, it’s crucial to promote the insurance sector as an interesting career path for a wide range of professions, including legal, actuary, data sciences, project management, sales and marketing, and even trades, as for example, tradespeople often make great loss-control specialists.
See: The impact of the skilled labour shortage
Other ways companies can connect with students and enhance visibility of the insurance sector are:
- Collaborate with universities and colleges to help inform curriculums
- Engage guest lecturers from the insurance sector in speaking to schools about job opportunities in insurance
- Develop mentorship/career coaching programs to connect industry talent with interested students
While the talent challenge won’t be solved overnight, companies can take steps now to build the talent pipeline in an industry that has a long history and plays an important role in society. With the right people in place, the industry will be in good hands long into the future.
1 Applied and InVEST, “The Future of Insurance: Bye-Bye Boomers, Hello Digital Natives," 2019
2 The Insurance Institute of Canada, “Demographics of the P&C Insurance Industry in Canada,” 2018 h
3 The Insurance Institute of Canada, “Why Insurance”