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5 Surefire Tips to Reduce Employee Turnover

Posted on June 14, 2016 by Guy Weismantel

Digital Insurer blog header

Are your employees happy with their jobs? Look around you as you walk through the work spaces at your insurance agency. Do you see anxious, annoyed, or vacant expressions? Is productivity dipping lower and lower every week? Those are just a couple of signs that your employees aren't happy and that your company culture isn't what it should be.

Why should you care? Does your employees' level of job satisfaction really affect the agency as a whole? The answer lies in 5 key findings from Hanover Research's' study about why employees leave their jobs with insurance agencies.

1. Change Without Communication Causes Damage

In February of 2016, Hanover Research completed a study of employees in the field of insurance. In the report, Hanover looked at agencies that had an unusually high number of employees who were either leaving, or being hired. In 40 percent of those cases, the reasons had to do with changes in company culture. Something that the agency did— or failed to do— affected the company culture in a negative way and spurred people to look elsewhere for a job.

When you lose employees, it costs you time and money. So how can you prevent this from happening? 

It's important to have systems in place for gathering feedback from your employees. Let them know that you care about them and supply various avenues for them to express what they are thinking and feeling without negative repercussions. If you open the channels of communication and pay attention to what your employees say, you'll be more likely to enact positive changes—changes that make your agents want to stick around.

Remember that being heard is actually what's most important. You don't have to change the way you do business overnight because an employee makes a suggestion, people just want confirmation that they are being heard and have a seat at the table. And when you do that, everyone has a responsibility to facilitate the type of company culture they want to be a part of. It becomes almost impossible to play the blame game when everyone has had a fair opportunity to voice their opinions. 

2. A Negative Company Culture Pushes People Away

In one of Hanover's surveys for their report, they asked respondents to rate the level of influence that specific factors have on an employee's decision to stay or go. For 55% of respondents, company culture ranked highest on the list of factors.

If people feel unappreciated, unimportant, or demeaned at their place of work, they will not stay. They may hang on for a while, hoping that things will get better— but eventually, they will give up and go elsewhere. That means that your insurance agency loses a trained agent and has to start all over again with a new trainee. You lose your investment in that person, and you have to spend time and effort hiring and training someone else who probably won't be happy with their new position, either. They move on, and you lose more money.

Reasons for increased turnover

3. Employees Value the Agency's Adaptability

Remember the survey about the factors affecting employee turnover? Thirty percent of respondents cited the most important factor as the company's ability to adapt to the changing insurance market. In other words, for a third of your employees, the deciding factor for leaving your company is your openness to change.

Change can be frightening, especially for business owners and managers. As long as the status quo is more or less functional, you probably want to stay there. However, the insurance agencies that are raking in money are the ones who are out there collecting data about the marketplace, finding out what customers really want, and adapting to those needs. The agency that stays settled in the status quo will soon find it to be a dangerous place, where they are left to stagnate while others seize their share of the market.

Looking for an example? How about personal auto lines? It's no secret that many agencies are scrambling to move into commercial lines in order to secure business they've lost to online competitors. 

4. The Budget Should Have Room for Upgrades

Another third of respondents said the company budget is a powerful factor that affects whether employees stay or leave an agency. If the insurance agency is not willing to invest in its employees and its business, the workers cannot do their jobs effectively. They are stuck using old computers and ancient software, while their competitors speed through the marketplace with new tech and new software, snatching up customers right and left. 

With an upgrade to modern software systems, your employees could have dozens of additional features and resources at their fingertips. You'll see productivity skyrocketing, and you'll notice a new energy and positivity in the workplace. When you believe in your agency enough to invest in it, you help your employees believe in the company, too.

Reality check: I really want to emphasize the word "investment." None of this happens overnight. But when you have a tool like ReferenceConnect that allows agents to write lines of business they've unfamiliar with instantly, everyone wins. 

5. The Pain of Same is Worse than the Pain of Change

All of the findings in the Hanover report can be summed up in one illustrative scenario. Imagine that you've been using the same razor and razor blade for a long time. After a while, your razor becomes dull; but you don't sharpen it or replace it. You tell yourself that you can't waste the money on a new razor, and you don't have time to spend shopping for one. Instead, you take longer and longer each day, trying to shave your face with the old, dull razor— all the while ignoring the fact that there are gleaming, high-tech razors out there that could spare you the nicks and scrapes and have you looking sharp and professional in half the time. Insurance agencies too often condemn their employees to use the old, dull software instead of the modern technology and tools that are readily available and affordable.

Take a moment to think about the technology and software that you and your employees use at your insurance agency. How old is it? If you don't know, shoot an email to your IT crew and find out. Perhaps it's time for a change. Download our free e-book Managing Your Workforce in the Digital Era to find out how you can invest in your agency's long-term success.

Mr. Weismantel is the Vice President of Marketing at Vertafore. With 20 years of marketing and financial leadership in companies such as Microsoft, Business Objects, Baxter HealthCare, Caremark International, and Expedia, Guy’s career has focused on bringing differentiated products to market and providing the “compelling reason to purchase” for customers and prospects alike.

Guy has a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame, and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


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