Chief Customer Chat: How our community is finding—and keeping—great people

Finding and keeping great people

By: Cassidy Smirnow 

If you’re like me and spend any time watching the news, scrolling through LinkedIn, or reading business updates, you’re being bombarded with stories about “the Great Resignation.” We’re experiencing a once-in-a-generation transformation of the job landscape: recent surveys show that as many as one in every two workers are considering a job change.  

Findings like these are sparking conversations about the challenges this transformation may bring for our industry, which is already experiencing a talent gap.  

But in talking with many of you, I’m inspired by how our customers are embracing this moment—to invest in their workers, to showcase their great culture, to find new ways to attract potential insurance professionals, and to keep the talent they currently have.

Putting an emphasis on culture

Prospective and current employees have more choice than ever when it comes to where they work. The tangibles—salary, benefits, incentive programs—still matter. But many job seekers and employees are swayed by the intangibles, like a company’s mission and purpose, its guiding values and accomplishments, its leadership team, and what past and present employees have to say.  

Many of you are using this moment to be more vocal about what makes your company unique—not just for clients but for employees as well. Whether it’s how your team gives back to the community, sharing your vision statement, celebrating recent awards, or even sharing the latest pet posts in your Teams chats (#PetsofVertafore), it’s never been more important to thoughtfully emphasize culture.  

At Vertafore, I’m thrilled that our employees are plugged into our vision and values. From our new-in-career hires to our senior leadership, when I talk to members of our team, they know we’re a customer-first organization. They know we celebrate curiosity, action, and winning as a team, and they know we love insurance. We talk about these principles internally every chance we get, but we also share them out in the world—on our website, in conversations, on social media, and more. And that helps us attract people who are drawn to those same values.  

Embracing a broader talent pool

We all had to scramble to figure out how to create a remote working solution for most of our employees over the past 18 months, and for the most part we figured it out. Now, I’m hearing from many of our customers about an unexpected silver lining—with the barrier to remote work broken, you have a much larger pool of talented professionals to consider. In addition, companies that are more willing to consider remote and hybrid options going forward are finding themselves better positioned to be an employer of choice, both for new recruits as well as current employees.  

Many of you are also investing time and resources in programs to attract diverse job seekers. From small agencies to big carriers and industry institutions like the Big “I” and the National Association for Advancement of Women in Insurance, as an industry we are doubling down on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives to hire more women and younger talent from diverse backgrounds, including communities of color and LGBTQ.  

At Vertafore, we were excited to be able to expand our long-standing summer internship program with internX, which connects diverse candidates to internships around the country. Our 2021 cohort of 16 interns spent the summer with our teams in sales, HR, finance, product development and more, and we were lucky enough to have several of them join Vertafore full-time at the end of their internship.  

Planning for the future

Now more than ever, many of you are prioritizing succession planning—not just for your senior leadership positions but across your organizations. No one wants to be in a position where the only employee who understands a mission-critical function walks out the door—leaving your organization to scramble.

But I’m also hearing from many of you who are leveraging your plans as a retention tool by sharing them with employees so they see how they fit into your vision for the future of your company. You’re also using it as a roadmap to create training and mentoring programs, ensuring you have back-ups for essential skills (both hard and soft) and demonstrating your commitment to helping employees grow as professionals.  

I spend at least 50% of my time thinking about succession: identifying key roles and functions, asking who would be next in line, and writing that down in case someone needs to jump in for me. And I encourage my team to take advantage of every resource we offer at Vertafore—from our mentorship program to our subscription to LinkedIn Learning.  

One of the reasons I love this industry is because of the ways we embrace challenges and come together as a community. These initiatives will not only better the industry, but they’ll go a long way toward making a career in insurance more top of mind with more job seekers.

Cassidy Smirnow is Vertafore’s resident customer expert with a passion for building customer-first cultures that transform businesses. With a proven track record of improving customer retention and enabling teams to provide best-in-class customer experiences, Cassidy is the embodiment of the Vertafore Way principle, “Customer Success is Our Success."