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Are you prepared for the loss of 1/4 of your employees?

Posted on July 12, 2016 by Guy Weismantel

Digital Insurer blog header

Years ago, you hired some great people to join your insurance agency and over time, these people learned the tools of the trade. They made mistakes and learned how to rectify them. They discovered all of the different components of the insurance business and gained a thorough understanding of how the industry works. They know how to get results. They work as a team.

It sounds like the perfect scenario, right? So what's the problem?

One word— retirement.


A Slow-Motion Crisis

By 2018, one quarter of the current insurance industry workforce will retire. That's a full 25 percent of those well-trained, industry-wise professionals leaving the business. They are leaving to enjoy some hard-earned rest— and they're leaving you with a gaping hole in your workforce.

This slippage in the insurance industry workforce will take place over a number of years. It's going to creep up on the agencies, stirring a slow panic as all the most experienced workers step away from their desks for the last time. Fortunately, since you're reading this, you have the advantage over other industry principals. You have been warned, so now you can start taking steps to fill in that missing 25 percent of your workforce.

A Cross-Generational Solution

When you begin looking around, searching for replacements for your retiring workers, your eye may fall on some insurance veterans who are looking for new jobs for one reason or another. You'll be tempted to hire those older producers because of their wealth of experience. However, you need to think strategically when you make your choices. By all means, hire some agents with wisdom and expertise, but balance those choices by hiring younger professionals as well. You need a cross-section of different generations working for you, including a large segment of young Millennials.


A Taste for Technology

The trouble is, those Millennials can be tough to recruit, especially when you're showing them the doorway into the world of insurance sales. They have certain expectations for their jobs and lives, and they are leery of things that seem antiquated or out-of-date.

Suppose that Derek, a 29-year-old Millennial, submits his application and you grant him an interview. He seems excited and interested at first, although you notice him glancing uncertainly at the ancient desktop computer in your office. You take him on a walk through the agency work space, and his excitement visibly fades as he sees other employees talking on antiquated landline phones, taking notes with pen and paper, and using sluggish software on old, clunky laptops. When you offer Derek a job, he tells you politely that he'll have to think about it.

You never hear from him again.

In order to draw fresh young faces into the insurance business, you need to make use of the amazing technology all around you. Do you have cloud-based storage systems in place for your files? Make that a priority. How about up-to-date smartphones or tablets for all your agents? How long has it been since you upgraded those slow laptops to sleek, speedy models? When did you last purchase new software packages to use for daily tasks? Pull together a team to help you and begin implementing the modern technology that Millennials expect to see in a competitive workplace. Not only will you attract a younger set of eager, intelligent agents, you should also notice a distinct jump in productivity, thanks to the faster, newer software and equipment.

A Litmus Test

On the flip side, if you're going to be using cutting-edge technology as a part of your growing business, you need to hire people who know how to use it.

Imagine that a potential employee named Kylie enters your office for an interview, and you hand her a tablet and tell her about a personality quiz that you were checking out on social media. She seems uncomfortable with the tablet, handing it back to you after a few awkward seconds. When you mention the operating systems and the software you use in the workplace, she nods but looks a little lost or uninterested.

Now imagine a different candidate named Kia. She reaches eagerly for the tablet when you hold it out, and she immediately starts taking the personality test, manipulating the touch screen with practiced ease. When you talk about software and operating systems, she asks savvy questions that show an understanding of the topic, even if she isn't familiar with your specific software yet.

Faced with these two candidates, both Millennials, you should probably choose Kia. She is excited about technology and its potential for making profitable, informative connections. She is the kind of employee that could help your agency gain the energy and forward momentum that you need to get through the slow-motion crisis.

A Survival Strategy

Only about 1 in 5 producers make the cut and become long-term assets to your team. Give yourself the best possible chance of attracting those smart, energetic Millennials that you need to keep your agency competitive. Integrating new technology throughout your insurance agency is a monumental task, but you can meet the challenge— because that's how your agency will survive the next few years.

For more tips and ideas on how you can recruit Millennials download the e-Book Managing Your Agency in the Digital Era.

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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