The insurance industry reacts to May’s employment report: “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”

The insurance industry reacts to May’s employment report: “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”

The “Great Resignation” rolls on, according to the May report from the US Bureau of Labor. Even Anthony Klotz, who coined the term, says the American labor market will stay hot for “many more months.”

Adding another hurdle to employers, last month the insurance industry added 19,700 new jobs.

If workers jumping ship and explosive job growth aren’t challenge enough, insurers nationwide have started feeling the effects of the perfect storm: The “Retirement Cliff.”

Neil Alldredge, NAMIC’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, explains that the insurance industry will lose 50% of its workforce to retirement, over the next 14 years.

This is where insurers lock arms: “We’re going to need a MUCH bigger boat. Maybe an oceanliner.”

A glance at the demographics tells the story.

The number of insurance professionals 55 and older has increased 74% in the last nine years.

And in the next 14 years, a total of 400,000 jobs will be unfilled.

That’s a lot of empty chairs.

Less than 25% of current insurance workers are under 35. Replacing the departing employees—many with 20 to 30+ years of experience—presents an unprecedented demand for insurance professionals across the country and in every segment of the industry.

Employers are responding to the current and impending worker shortages in a number of ways.

To improve retention of current workers and attract new talent, insurers continue to boost pay, invest in technology for more remote flexibility, and improve employee recognition, community culture, and training. These check most of the boxes for quitters’ reasons for leaving, according to Pew Research’s survey that cites low pay, no opportunity for advancement, feeling disrespected, and lack of flexibility and work/life balance.

In March there were 1.9 job openings for every unemployed worker. Those numbers are one driving force toward outside recruitment sources to replace retiring and quitting employees. HR staff shortages and limited in-house resources are another.

As companies look for ways to attract and retain talent, they acknowledge that people want more from their employers. Addressing employees’ emerging priorities and choices are critical to win top talent.

Many who are quitting, for instance, are looking for a remote opportunity, according to Julia Pollak, ZipRecruiter chief economist.

Johnny Campbell, SocialTalent CEO (a learning platform for recruiters) agrees, for the most part.

“Workers are craving flexibility, in all its forms,” Campbell said. “There’s a lot of work and structure involved in getting flexibility to function, but it’s better to plan with this in mind and stay ahead of the curve.”

The pandemic taught workers that they have options, and flexibility and remote work is a top reason that people are leaving their jobs. Companies are responding by evaluating flexibility in work schedules and ways they can support remote and hybrid workers. It’s up to the recruiters to know what candidates want and to communicate to candidates how the organization will meet their needs.

The insurance industry is becoming more dependent on technology and needs to attract tech-competent talent across all departments, not just in the traditional IT office roles. Upskilling, cross-training, and promoting the business as socially responsible are approaches recommended by Tony Cotto of NAMIC.

Companies are adapting their recruiting tactics to an evolving landscape, according to insurance analysts at McKinsey and Company. Organizations need to redefine and rebrand roles, culture, schedules, and benefits that welcome and serve an emerging pool of top talent.

As the competition for talent rages on for the foreseeable future, organizations are starting to acknowledge that the old maps and playbooks no longer work. As remote work models expand the talent pool and workers exercise their newfound power of choice, bigger (and smarter) boats will be called on to navigate a changing course in stormy waters to come.

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