How an independent agency faces the challenges of today’s hard market will have a direct impact on their growth and success tomorrow. Very few of those in the industry now have experience with the inflationary period of the mid-1970s and early 80s and many may be unsure how to respond (if this post-pandemic economy is truly comparable). The first step is in recognizing these threats and inflationary pressures are not going away soon. Being proactive and prospective are key to thriving and growing during a time of uncertain economic conditions.

The demand for skilled employees in the currently tight labor market is poised to linger for some time, with the talent shortage expected to continue its impact on the insurance industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the industry will lose around 400,000 employees to retirement over the next few years. Add to that the challenge the industry faces in recruiting young people – or even any people, depending on an agency’s location. There is stiff competition among agencies, while the attractiveness of InsurTechs and other tech-based employers also vie for a dwindling pool of high-caliber candidates.

What Can Be Done?
This situation requires a rethinking in approach. Insurance agency owners must become creative and look to the non-traditional in order to attract employees. Also, as crucial as a reevaluated recruiting strategy is, it is extremely important to create a robust employee retention plan. Failing to keep an employee can be much more costly than hiring a new one.

Competitive wages and a strong benefits package are both directly related to employee engagement, but there are other factors equally important to employees in this new, post-pandemic work world.

Here are some impactful ways to help attract the right employees, and keep the great ones.

What Works
Attracting the Right Talent. Over the last two years, technology has changed the way business is conducted impacting the methods used to attract, recruit and hire candidates. Among digital native generations, the insurance industry is suffering from a perception problem. Insurance is typically not viewed as exciting, or a profession with growth opportunities. Having a strong brand identity and emphasizing your agency’s use of technology and innovation can help combat those challenges.

Using digital channels, like social media, for recruiting is the norm. In today’s world, candidates expect a mobile-friendly application process. A quick hiring process is also proving to be important in the competition for a dwindling pool of qualified candidates.

Many people want and expect their employers to offer a hybrid work option. Another enticement is a signing bonus. Create an employee referral program — often your own employees are your best recruiters!

Hiring agencies should think about the non-traditional employee. When having difficulty finding quality local candidates, consider a remote work option and expanding the search to include areas outside your geography, or even the insurance industry, which expands the number of potential applicants.

Keeping the Best Talent. Hybrid and remote work appear to be here to stay. People want the life-balance this provides, and it is important to consider offering work-from-home arrangements to current employees. Stay bonuses are being given as is more time off. Professional training and development opportunities are additional ways to keep employees engaged and growing within your agency.

It is vital to have a great company culture and be a place people want to work. Be sure people feel valued and appreciated. Small investments, like free in-office coffee and snacks, go a long way towards making an environment pleasant.

Where We Are Going
The world of work has changed. Competition in attracting and keeping talent has forced agencies to reevaluate both recruiting AND retention strategies. An aging workforce coupled with the expectations of the next generation of workers are of concern to the insurance industry overall. Understanding what is important to your current and future employees, and investing in those benefits, is critical to keeping your agency competitive.