The new insurance workplace

Flexible and hybrid work options matter even more in the current insurance workplace.

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Defining flexibility 

A requirement for flexibility has emerged as an important factor in hiring and retention conversations; it is becoming more important for employers and employees to agree on what flexibility means."

- Kristin Nease, Vertafore VP Human Resources 

"Flexibility" is a popular buzzword as the world adjusts to a post-pandemic working environment. More employees are asking for it in their work schedule and more employers are offering it, but what exactly does flexibility mean? 

Is flexibility the ability to leave work to pick kids up from school? Or is it finishing projects at 3:00 am? Does flexibility mean that employees must alert supervisors when they are not at their computers?  Do employees have to put in eight hours on the clock if they can do their tasks in three? 

This conversation about what flexibility means is important because agreement can lead to a high level of satisfaction and efficiency for both employers and employees. When everyone is onboard with what flexibility offers, the work can begin. 

The value of flexibility 

For our latest Insurance Workforce Survey, we wanted to know how the insurance community was negotiating the change from in-office to hybrid and remote work. We were curious about how much flexibility was on the minds of those we surveyed. 

“Flexibility” appeared in three of our questions.  

  • For everyone: “Please select all factors that influenced your decision to change jobs.” 

  • For everyone: “What factors would make you more likely to stay with your current company?” 

  • For owners/principals: “What changes has your company made in the past year to retain employees?” 

Searching for flexibility 

11% of our survey respondents who reported changing jobs in the last 24 months did so for a “flexible work schedule.” These answers were equally distributed between men and women, and for all age groups.  

However, 32% of those who reported wanting to stay in their current positions answered that a “more flexible work schedule” is a factor that would convince them to stay. But, unlike the equalized numbers for those who left a job in the last 24 months, 73% of these respondents were women. 

Agency owners and principals reacted positively to this drumbeat for increased flexibility as 33% reported offering a flexible work schedule as an employee retention strategy. These results, broken down by an agency’s size, indicate that larger agencies are more likely to offer flexibility than smaller ones.  

The rates at which agencies offered flexible work schedules: 

  • 28% with 1-6 employees 

  • 35% with 7-25 employees 

  • 40% with 26-75 employees 

  • 42% with more than 75 employees 

Flexibility is here to stay 

It’s critical that business leaders address the challenges their employees are facing. People have a new way of working and they will find places that offer them the flexibility they’re looking for. Employers who listen and pay attention to this work dynamic will be far more successful than those who won’t make changes.” 

- Kristin Nease, Vertafore VP Human Resources 

The demand for workplace flexibility has become cemented in the marketplace. A recent Flexjobs workplace survey reports 76% of respondents would be more willing to stay in their current positions if they could work flexible hours. Additionally, a staggering 97% said they would appreciate having a flexible working plan into the future. 

Agencies that are prioritizing flexible work are securing their ongoing hiring and retention as more quality candidates and employees look for opportunities to create their own work schedules and environments. The 32% of our respondents who said they would consider staying in their current positions show that they consider flexibility in their work to be important. This number will probably keep growing as more employees shop through the marketplace searching for positions that closely align with their ideas about flexible work. 

Smaller agencies that have not yet made the transition to flexibility may soon discover that hiring and keeping employees becomes more difficult. Small agencies have so much to offer and are naturally appealing to employees looking to work far away from a cold corporate atmosphere. Now is the perfect time to embrace flexibility as another appealing employment factor that will continue to attract quality candidates and employees. 

Flexibility empowers women 

It’s no secret that pandemic job losses affected women.  In fact, women have lost a net of 5.4 million jobs during the recession—nearly 1 million more than men. 

It’s also not a secret why women require more flexibility in their employment: they are more likely carry the responsibilities for childcare. The women in our survey who want flexibility in their current positions point to the necessity of scheduling options that work for them. Again, businesses who are currently offering this level of flexibility are benefiting from a large group of employees and candidates who thrive in a position with less rigidity. It is a win for both. 

The insurance workforce has spoken. There is a growing need for flexible work options. Agencies and employees alike see the benefits and potential for creating schedule and workspace options that create comfort, productivity, and equity.