Friday, January 25, 2013

5 Things You Should Be Doing to Hire and Keep the Best New Talent

As Executive Director of NAPSLO, I recently had the honor of serving as a panelist on the “Attracting and Developing Tomorrow’s Insurance Stars” webinar hosted by A.M. Best Company. I was joined by Noelle Codispoti, Executive Director of Gamma Iota Sigma, the fraternity for students in insurance risk management programs; Jeffrey D. Henry, Director of Education and Professional Development of the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA); James P. Arnold, Chief Administrative Officer of FirstComp; and Kevin Johnson, a young underwriter with Munich Re America to discuss how companies are finding new ways to identify and attract recent graduates and what it takes to get those new hires to stick around.

The truth is things are pretty much the same as they have been in the past – very few people choose the insurance industry; most fall into it. That’s why we as industry leaders have to continue, and perhaps even step up our game, in telling the story of why insurance is a great career choice. Broadcasting the benefits of our industry falls in every player’s corner from professional associations and trade media outlets to individual companies and their executives.

Here are the top 5 ways we can broadcast the benefits of our industry and increase the number of potential leaders and decrease turnover:

1. Always Be Mining Gems – Even Those in the Rough 
I agree with Mr. Arnold on this -- Sure, it’s easy to attract graduates who have their hearts set on insurance careers, but that’s a very small group. The onus is now on us to reach out to bright students who may not have considered our field and show them how their passions/majors can fit into an insurance career.

2. Help Colleges and Faculty Spread the Message
 This goes along with point No. 1. Don’t rely on colleges and faculty to groom your future leaders in a vacuum. Mr. Henry encourages his members to get involved – attend career fairs, contact faculty to see if there are any opportunities to make presentations to students, find innovative ways to start discourse with students.

3. Don’t Get Senioritis 
Ms. Codispoti made an excellent observation – there is a lack of available internships for seniors, and it’s even tighter for younger students who wish to explore the industry to ensure they are choosing the right major. She also pointed out that having more internship opportunities could even help to reduce turnover. Maybe you don’t have the resources to offer full-blown internships to younger students, but you certainly can reach out to them in smaller ways – consider offering job shadowing days or a lunch and learn at your office.

4. Remember, It’s Not a Job, It’s a Career 
Mr. Arnold brought up an interesting discussion point when the topic turned to new employee turnover: It’s not always only about monetary compensation. His company places a premium in creating a work environment that encourages the way Millennials like to work – encouraging connectivity, allowing employees to use their own devices (phones, smart pads, laptops, etc.) for and at work, offering collaborative work spaces, as well as providing the opportunity to work remotely when the need arises. They also employ “career latticing,” which allows employees to move around in the company and exposes them to different responsibilities.

5. Formalize Your Mentorship Program 
Finding knowledgeable mentors is still a valuable recruiting and retention tool, but the way those relationships are formed and maintained has changed. It’s no longer a teacher-student type of arrangement, but one in which valuable information is exchanged by both professionals, especially now that Millennials are more likely the experts in subjects like technology. However, as Mr. Johnson pointed out, it’s often difficult for new entrants to the industry to find a willing mentor who can help with career planning five, even 10 years out, which can really solidify a young person’s commitment to the industry, if not the company.

So, how successful has NAPSLO been in doing its share to attract new blood to the industry? Extremely -- many of our interns and scholarship recipients have enjoyed very successful careers in the E&S industry. Based on a 2006 survey of past interns, 104 of 176 responses reported that 90 percent of past interns were employed in the insurance industry, with more the 2/3 in surplus lines. And we will continue to innovate and do our part. That’s a promise.

For a complete list of links to the information and programs NAPSLO provides to encourage an insurance industry career choice, click here. If you missed the webinar, click here to check out the recorded session.

- Brady Kelley

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