The key to great hiring now? Alternative talent sources.
Any Corporate HR team will tell you it’s been a rough year for hiring. As the fourth quarter approaches, unfilled positions threaten to escalate from crunch status to catastrophic as holidays, retirements, and year-end responsibilities arise.
Demand for temporary and contract insurance staff reached an all-time high this year. Interim staffing is thriving as reinforcement to filling account manager, underwriter, claims adjuster, and accountant jobs (and others), according to 2022 figures.
Almost 20% of insurance employers increased their use of interim staff. The upward trend is expected to continue as employers act to deflect continuing negative forces in the job market. In the wake of the “Great Resignation” and the “Great Renegotiation” businesses are rethinking traditional definitions of talent and looking for new pools, some experts say.
Competition for increasingly scarce talent is fierce, with no end in sight. But according to McKinsey, companies are making a disastrous mistake by relying on traditional means of attracting people (compensation, advancement opportunities, and titles). Casting their lines with ineffective bait in the same old pools isn’t just overfishing, it’s counterproductive for both employers and potential candidates.
The last two years brought not only a tidal wave of quitters, but a wake of “movers” in a national uptrend in cross-industry mobility. People were (and are) taking jobs in different fields or taking a respite. Many left the workforce to reassess, citing the “demands of life”—caring for children, parents, or themselves.
Just 35% of those who left their jobs in the last two years moved to a new job in the same industry. Among finance and insurance professionals, 65 percent changed industries or didn’t return to work at all, leaving employers to ask:
- Where are the “quitters,” “movers” and “reassess-ers?
- What does it take to attract them?
Where you won’t find them is in the “traditional” candidate pool.
They’re not applying for full-time jobs, for instance. Most explain their time-out or “pivot” as a need for flexibility, and they’re as likely to be working a flexible side-hustle, starting their own business, or taking online classes as sitting at home.
Many are open to short-term opportunities until they’re convinced the job is a good fit.
It can be a new experience for hiring managers accustomed to probationary periods for new hires to be similarly observed by new employees who want to “date” before they “marry” a job. But if recruiters step back far enough to see the big picture, the advantage in this new paradigm becomes apparent, especially as the “idealists” aged 18-24 begin re-shaping the workplace.
The interim work experience can be a positive one for both parties, according to Brigid Sciacotta, of Sanford Rose Associates – Newman Group. Sciaccotta, whose specialty is Interim Workforce placement for all levels of insurance and finance roles, explains.
The “working interview,” as Sciaccotta likes to call the initial phase (3 months to a year) allows a preview for performance, promotability, and fit as new employees demonstrate their abilities. It’s of mutual benefit to both parties; the employee, in turn, gets to know the new job, coworkers, and culture.
“The interim employee steps in for a few months to fill an immediate need,” Sciaccotta said. “Later the employers might decide to make a full-time job offer.”
Update your onboarding etiquette, Sciaccotta warns. Most importantly, don’t introduce and identify the employee as a “temp,” which carries an outdated stigma and leads coworkers and managers to treat them differently than a “regular” employee.
Interim-to-hire might be a key to better retention, Sciaccota suggests. “The employee is comfortable coming onboard, they understand the job and the culture, and they’re more likely to stay.”
“It reduces turnover and risk. Insurance people really ‘get’ the ‘low-risk’ angle, “Sciaccotta said.
Interim staffing isn’t new, but has been sidelined as insurance companies have focused on direct hire to attract and fill critical open positions.
Many “break-takers” are cautiously re-entering the workforce, stepping in short-term, such as end-of-year or covering for leaves or retiring workers—temporary stints that help the employee during transition and help the employer fill seasonal or urgent holes in their workforce.
Joseph Coughlin (Forbes) notes that insurance and finance employees who retired early in the pandemic are now returning to work. Like younger workers, they’re looking for flexibility. Employers shouldn’t overlook this highly skilled and experienced segment of non-traditional workers, Coughlin says.
Other examples of “passive candidates” open to short-term or interim-to-hire opportunities are transitioning military personnel, women, and college students who seek the flexibility that contract and interim staffing offer in the post-pandemic job market.
SRA Newman Group cultivates and nurtures “passive candidates,” the foundation of their interim and direct-hire pool, Sciaccotta said.
“We have access to a different talent pool that’s unreachable by company HR departments, she said. “It takes a lot of resources to develop these relationships. Our clients understand and appreciate that.”
Deloitte established with their 2022 Human Capital analysis that companies with a willingness to redesign their human capital structure to include both interim and full-time employees will position themselves to thrive in the new work culture.