A Dive into Talent Recruitment and Retention in Insurance
Nikia: [00:00:04] Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us for a dive into talent, recruitment and retention and insurance. My name is Nikia Jefferson. I’m the vice president for university relations and member services at Gamma Iota Sigma, and I’ll serve as your moderator for this discussion. This topic is particularly important as we work with collegiate students looking to enter the insurance industry. I have a rock star panel today that’s looking to share their perspective on how to successfully recruit and retain rock star professionals. Let’s start out with some introductions. Lindsay, can you go first?
Lindsay: [00:00:39] Sure. Thank you so much for having me today. My name is Lindsay Spann. I am the employee engagement specialist and recruiter at IT Insurance Group, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Nikia: [00:00:51] Thank you. Jack, how about you go next?
Jack: [00:00:55] Thank you. Also, thanks for inviting me. Jack Elliot with CRC Group Chief Administrative Officer there. Excited to be talking about these subjects.
Nikia: [00:01:09] And then AC.
AC: [00:01:10] Thanks for having me, Nikia. AC Ndindjock Client Adviser Marsh USA with Multinational Group.
Nikia: [00:01:20] Awesome. Thank you so much for being here. Let’s jump right into some questions. So what trends are we seeing among companies right now in the talent, recruitment and retention space?
Lindsay: [00:01:35] Sure I can start off with that. Nikia So I would say one of the most recent trends over the last few years has certainly been the desire to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive culture. I think employers are looking at ways to really understand at the foundation what their culture represents. And I think it’s important for organizations to really take a more holistic view of that and really assessing where they are currently before being able to build on and enhance what it is that they’re trying to create. So it’s not only focusing on the recruitment piece, which I think is certainly something we’re seeing in the market. But also how are they retaining that top talent that’s been with them for for the last few years has kind of weathered the storm of the pandemic and the societal changes that we’ve seen. But creating a culture, adding different programs that really means more into the evolution and development of the talent that they have. So I definitely think that’s one of them. And the other, I would say is looking at when we’re talking about the recruitment piece, is looking at culture ad versus culture fit. So recruiting with a different mindset of not someone that just can come in and do the job and the requirements that’s listed. But we’re looking for candidates now that can add something to the culture, whether that’s a diverse perspective, background, race, gender or sexual orientation. All of the elements of diversity that are a big part of the conversation now, but really hiring with a different lens. How can someone add to the culture that we have versus how can someone fit into what we’ve been doing as as things continue to evolve?
Nikia: [00:03:34] I appreciate the intentionality there as it relates to culture. You mentioned the ongoing pandemic. So how has COVID taught us to be creative or in what ways have companies have to adapt?
Lindsay: [00:03:46] Yes, absolutely. I think it’s still ongoing. I would say in addition to being creative and adapting, it’s also having a level of patience and grace, patience for ourselves in terms of we’re all humans going through all of these changes at once. So whether you’re a CEO of an organization or someone that’s just joining the workforce straight out of college, it does take a level of patience to understand these are the things that I want to accomplish. This is the culture I want to build as an organization, but that’s going to take time. None of that is going to transpire overnight from a creative standpoint. Certainly having the hybrid or fully remote workforce and the transition from the office to home, from the office or from home back to the office, that all was a transition that all again takes that patience and grace to work together and not against one another as we look to kind of look to see what the future holds. But I would say from an onboarding perspective, certainly having that element of how your culture translates virtually not just in a building and realizing that the culture really is the people that make up your organization and not a specific place.
Nikia: [00:05:07] That’s great. And the future is certainly uncertain. I don’t think that remote work is going away anytime soon, is increasing in some spaces, and this can go to anyone. How do we help? How do companies help tell their story and really translate that culture within a hybrid space?
Jack: [00:05:29] Yeah. I think we have to we definitely have to adapt. We have to find new ways. I would say in the last two years, LinkedIn has become my favorite social platform there. Now, I don’t know if that’s good for me or not because I spend a lot of time on it. But, you know, just connecting not only to people that we may want to hire, but connecting to people within our companies already. It’s been a great tool to share our culture, to share events, and sometimes you get questions on LinkedIn. This is really supposed to be just a business platform. Why are you sharing these other things? And I really think that we do that because the people in our organizations are the most important asset that we have. And if we’re talking about their lives, even on LinkedIn and that platform, I think that’s a great way to stay connected.
AC: [00:06:32] Yeah. I would add that recognizing the value that each one of us brings in the workplace is important. I mean, when we were going to the offices, I could walk into Jack’s office and Lindsay’s office, just knock on the door and spend 15 to 20 minutes just chatting. We don’t have that luxury anymore, unfortunately, but we can find ways to do that. So what I do with the colleagues that I’m working with is try to set recurring meetings just to be able to get together. It doesn’t have to be business all the time. We know we catch up with each other. How’s your family? How’s your wife? How’s how are things going? How are you holding up? Is there anything that I can assist with? You are starting to see people really going out of their comfort zone and doing that, and that has helped us really stay afloat for the most part.
Nikia: [00:07:23] That’s great. And our collegiate students who are looking for their first job in a lot of instances, they’ve been remote for the last two years. They’ve been taking classes online. They have been going to programs online. They did, in some cases their entire job search without, as you said, stepping into an office. How do we bring them into that culture? In some cases, they’ve had an opportunity to maybe do an internship that had, again, a hybrid opportunity. But what what are some other programs that might have been effective?
AC: [00:08:02] I think Jack mentioned LinkedIn, right? The generations now is big on social media, even before COVID, right. So I think those employers will understood that, that the way we can reach out to to the young talents out there goes beyond just going into campus, sending them emails. We have to find a way to get creative. What is on Facebook, what is on Instagram, Tiktok, you name it, it’s out there. The truth is that they spend more of their time for the most part on those tools anyway, so why not leverage that and see where you can reach out to them? So those companies that are understanding that I can spend 30 minutes on a quick webinar on Facebook and invite maybe those young students that are looking for opportunities. Those are the companies, I think, that are really gaining the momentum in terms of recruitment.
Nikia: [00:09:09] Awesome.
Lindsay: [00:09:10] Just to add to what what AC said, I think it’s meeting the students where they are. And so social media also. I think it’s a part of, as an organization, understanding what your employer brand says about you. So it’s also understanding how what employees that work here share about the organization. What would they say the culture represents? As an organization, you can have an idea of what you want your culture to be. But like I said earlier, it really is the people, your employees that make up that culture. So understanding what it is that they see in the culture and being able to share that your employees really are your best brand ambassador. So if you can encourage them to also show up in those places where the talent is, that that’s very helpful in getting that message out there and attracting the right talent to your organization.
Jack: [00:10:04] Yeah. Can you imagine graduating from college? That’s already scary, right? And you’re going into your first real job and that first group right at COVID going into a totally different scenario. And companies, we were just figuring it out ourselves. We were sending thousands of people home to work and figuring out how they’re going to work from home. And then all of a sudden you’ve got your college students coming in. And I think they learned better face to face at that at that juncture in their career. It just had to be a scary time for them. And I think we have to we have to continue to find ways. And I think we’ve been pretty successful in the industry, but I think we have to continue to find new ways to make them feel comfortable. I think some of this is letting up a little bit. So whether it’s a three day in the office to at home to try to keep everybody safe, you know, those type of scenarios. But again, we just have to adapt and but gosh, what a scary time that must have been.
Nikia: [00:11:19] Yeah, we definitely are seeing more companies create a certain level of flexibility, is what Jack’s describing, right? Like here, here’s our standard model, but we’ve had to adapt a ton to make sure that there is a certain level of comfort and balance as folks go back into the office or not. We’ve talked a lot about recruitment and the ways in which our current employees fit into the recruitment of new talent. Retention is also an important piece of our recruitment strategy, or it certainly is a measure of how successful we are as a company. Any perspectives on why people leave companies? Why are we seeing folks make career shifts right now?
AC: [00:12:04] So we’ve all heard of the great resignation, right? It’s everywhere on billboards. We get it on our phone as an advertisement. So I was reading earlier today, Gartner is a research company that does provides insights to executives. Right. And so they found that 65% of employees during the pandemic started realizing that the job of the work. Holds a completely different place in their lives because of the pandemic. And so what does that mean for for all of us? It means that compensation isn’t anymore. Right. Those companies that thought the best way for me to keep and retain my employees is to pay them more. I think they’re probably losing this game. Somebody told me that if you can think of home buying, for example, home ownership, you buy a home today, you live in there for years. You know, these rooms are too small for me. I need to try a bigger house. Right. But you know what? I’ve been here too long. The market is a little hard. I need to go find somewhere else. Maybe move in the east, move down south, whatever it is. And a lot of people like quitting the job shift or the job movement to kind of that home buying scenario. Right. So we’re not moving because we need more money. We’re moving because COVID has taught us that I can really work from anywhere. I my family leaves the D.C. area and I’m in North Carolina. So if I wanted to move, potentially wanting to be a little more closer to them, which I am now, great because I moved from Dallas to North Carolina and it’s good, it’s easy for me to go see them. It’s four and a half hour drive, an hour flight, and I can come back.
AC: [00:13:51] But also, what does that mean for a company, really? I think those companies are understood very a long time ago that we have to find ways to not just throw money at these people. Let’s. Yes, it was Women International Women’s Day, right. They are working women who probably struggle the most during this shift with the pandemic, having to juggle childcare, having to juggle virtual learning for kids. Nobody knew what that meant. Nobody know what what what to do with that would certainly have a lot more respect for school teachers now if we did before, because we understand what they have to go through to teach our children. Right. But the women that stayed at home, they had to do that. They had to be teachers and they had to be workers and they have to be productive. Right. So companies want us to that very early knew that perhaps I can provide a different working arrangement for these ladies. Right. Or anybody for that matter that I can understand that hybrid work has to become almost a synchronous. Right? So I don’t have to reply to that email instantly as I used to in the past. I tend to reply to it a day or two and that’s okay, right. And so they have to give the opportunity to their employees to be that flexible in terms of what they do. And that’s what’s really making people stay. I know that my company has my back. I know that they allowed me to come into work when I want to because they know that I’m going to be productive. And for that, they have my loyalty.
Jack: [00:15:33] Yeah. I think a lot of people have left companies for for various reasons. As I was looking at this, I was thinking, you know, a devastating pandemic. At the same time, civic distress throughout our country, political nonsense happening everywhere, fighting each other just was so much happening in a short period of time that I think people started thinking, is this right where I’m sitting today in this job? Is this where I want to be the rest of my life? Or did maybe they pass up on that dream, you know? This might be funny to a lot of people. I wanted to always be like the CIA or spy or something, you know? I passed that up for what was more stable and made more sense at the time. But, you know, I think people start thinking when the world feels upside down. I think they start thinking about, why would I not use this opportunity right here to do what I always wanted to do and maybe live where I always wanted to live with my family? And I think a lot of that has taken place. I also think that we’re kind of we follow sometimes. And so when when your neighbor is taking that other job opportunity, you start thinking, you know, should I do that now, too? And it’s it’s definitely interesting times. I definitely agree with you. You know, it’s not really about the money anymore. And especially with college students coming in, they want a culture that is giving back. They want to know that they’re doing something good. It just and that has not always been. We went through a few years, a few years ago, we went through college students coming out and and it was all about the corner office and the hardwood floors in the office. And how much are you going to pay me? I have really seen that just flip almost completely. And I think it’s good and I think our society will absolutely benefit from this change. It’s actually kind of exciting, right? In a way, it’s exciting that people are going back to their dream and and they also want to make a difference. But I’m not going to I’m not going to leave tomorrow and become a spy.
Nikia: [00:18:16] I love that. Jack and I, I agree wholeheartedly with that. Like, people are realizing they have choices. The companies are giving us options. I shift it from an in person role to a fully remote role in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, and apparently was like this shift to remote work and really thinking like, oh, like this is an option. Like people are actually doing this and they’re productive and they are finding balance in their personal lives. And absolutely, more companies are allowing individuals new and some of our existing employees to make choices for themselves. And that’s awesome.
Jack: [00:19:00] I think those are going to be successful companies for sure.
Lindsay: [00:19:06] We’re just going to share a quote that I can’t say that this is my own. It’s not, but it’s from Korn Ferry. It’s the leadership development program that I’m in. And one thing that they shared with us from the beginning is life by design, not default. I think the last few years we were in that default. I just want something that stable. Maybe the job was the most stable aspect of their lives. They knew what to do at work. They could go to work whether that was at home or not, but they knew kind of what the expectations were. And now it’s about to Jack. And at this point, design the life that you want and taking the risk, whether that’s leaving a company then at for a number of years or maybe only one year, and you’re deciding that that’s not the life that or career that you want for yourself. It’s really that empowering ability to now make that choice because you have those options. So I agree, Jack. I think it is exciting and it is very empowering for the employers. A little chaotic, a little crazy. But I think it will all shake out the way that it’s supposed to. But life by design, not by default, is definitely something that that is true with me. And I think that’s essentially what a lot of people are feeling right now, too.
Nikia: [00:20:22] I love that. Lindsey, I won’t have to write that down. We’ve talked a lot about culture. I’m going to add what can feel like a buzzword to that and asks, how do we build inclusive culture within a company or organization?
AC: [00:20:41] Right. It’s. It’s. It’s an interesting topic, right? It probably got heightened with the George Floyd murder, unfortunately, which really impacted African American. But it’s something that was there. It’s kind of like a sore thumb and no one really wanted to take a look at it until, unfortunately, George Floyd died. And then all of a sudden, the companies are starting to take openly takes a strong stance about diversity and inclusion. But I think everybody has a role to play here. Right. So for for minorities and I’m going to take a generalized approach here and not just segment black or Hispanic or women or anything. We have gone at the days where we show up at work there and just do our job and hope that somebody will notice us. But it’s not going to happen. Right. So we have to be proactive enough to go seek help. Right. I think what does that look like for me? Meant finding a sponsor, right? Trying to find a way to get on my manager schedule on a weekly basis or biweekly, if it’s possible, so that I can create that visibility for the work that I do and the tasks that I’m doing.
AC: [00:22:03] But also understanding very quickly the difference between having a mentor and a coach or a sponsor. I mean, mentorship is good. We have to have that, but you have to have somebody in your corner. So you have to create that allyship with the people that work in your company and intentionally go seek them out. Right. So and if you don’t if you do that, a lot of the time it works, right? And sometimes it doesn’t. And again, it ties back to that company culture and how they truly value diversity and inclusion. And what does that even mean for them? Is it just like a representation type of inclusion? I have two women today. I have two blacks, two Asian, two Hispanic. I’m good. Or do we just say this is a diversity and inclusion of ideas, right? Everybody comes on a table which can also be misleading in a lot of time. Right. So companies, I think, have to consistently want to be talent magnet, right. Invite and openly bringing those people that marry your culture, understand the culture and be open about your stance on diversity and inclusion. It doesn’t hurt.
Nikia: [00:23:19] Thanks for that. Ac And Jack mentioned that professionals want to be a part of an organization that stands for something. They want to be a part of an experience that means something. And I think this generation of young talent, their passion in these areas is has increased exponentially in comparison to previous generations. A question that we often get as we’re talking to collegiate students is how do they help? So whether I’m a minority student or from an underrepresented group or I’m an ally who just wants to contribute to there being an inclusive culture and a sense of belonging within the company. I’m a new professional. What are some with some low hanging fruit that I can offer in my first 1 to 2 years as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion?
Jack: [00:24:17] I think just becoming members of different organizations. Naya is a great organization out there. And actually, I just spoke with leadership there the other day because I would love to have a chapter here in Birmingham. But I think helping our young folks get knowing those organizations out there and helping them get signed up for that and being a part is a pretty incredible opportunity and getting involved. I think AC really had a good point. Its diversity, equity and inclusion is not just about the people that you have in the organization, but you also have to bring those ideas in and boards should be talking about those ideas and and should be increasing that. I would say the industry has gotten much better. But I think we have a lot of work to do. And I think, you know, I always like to say you can learn from your children. I think the young people coming into the industry today are teaching us. I think that also with everything that has happened, it is leading us to make a bigger effort here. My fear is always, let’s not wait until the next tragic event. Let’s keep it going today. Let’s not wait two years and get complacent and okay with where we’re at. Let’s keep moving the down. And and that’s that’s the way we’ll be successful. I also think our companies are going to be so much more valuable, so much more successful when we have different viewpoints. You know, if if everybody looks like me and talks like me and has my ideas, how much fun is that? So I just think there’s so many opportunities now that we haven’t had in the past.
Lindsay: [00:26:41] The only point I would add to that too would be engaging with GIS. Those are students that are interested in the industry. You all have an inclusion and diversity segment of your organization, so being able to ask the students what it is that they want to see in an organization too, I think sometimes as the employer, we can assume that we know what students are looking for, what candidates want. But it’s always important to ask those questions, to have those transparent conversations, even during the interview process. The onboarding process, I think, as a recruiter is always helpful for me to to ask those questions, to understand what is it that you’re looking for in terms of culture and inclusion and diversity efforts? What would you like to see happen in an organization over the next year or two years? And what impact do you want to make? And so as an employer, you can start to create those opportunities and spaces for those individuals as they enter your organization.
Nikia: [00:27:43] Absolutely. Excellent point and plug, Lindsay. Thank you. Obviously, we’re in a segment is in a unique position where we engage 5000 plus student members annually. They do participate in a annual recruiting survey, which we share results with our sustaining partner organization. So where we’re constantly fueling the student perspective back into companies. And I think if companies take that perspective and really use all of the great perspective that you all shared around ways that they can create programs or structures and culture to really, again, retain, recruit and retain new talent. Like like Jack said, like we’re going to change the game. Like it’s we have a lot of promise within insurance. There’s a lot of security in insurance careers. We say that a lot. We’re pushing for more students to choose insurance and to become aware of the vast ways that they can contribute and create lucrative careers in insurance. But there’s a lot of promise for this field as well in the ways in which we can affect the lives of a lot of individuals, companies and in society. Any last comments, any last piece of advice for our young talent, our new talent, or any companies that might be tuning in and trying to make some some additional adaptations to their current practice?
Jack: [00:29:13] Well, I’ll say the talent is getting younger for sure. And, you know, I, I walked into a agency when I was 15 years old. And that’s not the the typical path. But, you know, the great thing now is we have insurance courses going into high schools. And it’s my passion really, to put those type of courses in inner city high school. And here in Birmingham, our seven high school. To have people having kids graduate from our high schools with an insurance designation, and then we have to plug them into an army program, and then we have to follow them through college and stay with them and then make sure that our our recruiting teams are following them through this entire process as well. And then we will have some really good young people coming into the industry which which we need.
Nikia: [00:30:23] I love that. What a great opportunity not to just find but actually develop strong talent. All right. Well, thank you all so much for joining us today. I know that everything that you have shared has been beneficial for our viewers and as again, going to be beneficial for the greater promise of the insurance industry.
AC: [00:30:53] Thank you for having us.
Jack: [00:30:54] Thank you.