If you have talked to a young person on the job hunt lately, you have likely heard them yearning for a job that’s stable and rewarding and that offers limitless growth opportunities. Risk management and insurance careers can offer all of these values, so why are they not looking at our industry?
Both research and anecdotal encounters indicate that this disconnect is largely a result of perception and awareness. Unfortunately, the message highlighting the benefits of working within our industry has not yet reached young talent. This provides us with a challenge requiring a united industry effort to reverse, beginning with raising awareness of insurance careers.
The Institutes worked with specialists from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in developing its estimate of job openings in the next decade.
The actual amount of insurance-related job openings between 2014-2024, as estimated by the BLS, is at least 730,000. For 2016-2024, with two years gone, 80 percent of the total is 584,000.
The 730,000 figure factors in:
- New jobs being created—roughly 150,000.
- Replacement needs of existing positions, such as retirement, promotions or people moving to different companies.
- Replacements total more than 580,000.
- The 580,000 estimate is based on historical replacement rates and current numbers of professionals within each occupational area.
The numbers say it all. Our industry is currently 2.5 million strong and growing steadily—with the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating that 584,000 positions will need to be filled by 2024. But there is simply not enough new talent in the pipeline to meet this demand. As much as 25 percent of the industry could be ready to retire by 2018, and there are not enough risk management and insurance major graduates to replace departing employees.
Our industry has already taken great strides in coming together to address the looming talent gap. The inaugural Insurance Careers Month is the next step in this movement. Created by a number of industry organizations—including Hamilton Insurance Group, Lloyd’s, Marsh & McLennan Cos., InVest, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, Jacobson, MyPath and The Institutes—the initiative now boasts the involvement of more than 300 organizations. The advantages of insurance careers are well recognized within the industry, and Insurance Careers Month provides a framework for promoting those benefits to attract top talent to the industry.
As when facing any large-scale challenge, it will take time to change people’s perceptions and overcome preconceived notions. With this year’s first Insurance Careers Month, the goal is to continue laying the groundwork in building partnerships and spreading awareness of the careers that are available in the insurance industry.
All of us, no matter the size of our organizations, can get involved and have a positive impact. Toward that end, there are six steps we encourage participants to take now, along with more ambitious goals to work toward in the years to come.
Six steps you can take this month:
- Pledge your support—This month, CEOs of top insurance organizations are showing their support via short videos on social media. We encourage all CEOs to join this effort and create their own. Not only will these videos resonate with your employees, but those considering a career in insurance will appreciate hearing from key decision-makers.
- Engage in the process—Comb through the resources on insurancecareerstrifecta.org to better understand the recruiting and retention issues facing the industry. Armed with this knowledge, pinpoint actions your organization can take to achieve the most significant results.
- Leverage social media—Ensure that your organization’s social media channels amplify your message. By using the official Insurance Career Month hashtags (#CareerTrifecta and #TalentTuesday) as well as the official Insurance Careers Month logos and additional resources and content ideas in the Insurance Careers Month social media guide, you can easily begin spreading the word.
(Editor’s Note: The “career trifecta” description refers to the idea expressed in the first paragraph of this commentary: that insurance hits the career trifecta of being stable, rewarding and limitless.)
- Compile success stories—Research shows that millennials value authenticity. You can identify satisfied employees at your organization and ask for honest testimonials on the benefits of working in the insurance and risk management field. Share these stories broadly. Hearing candid, on-the-job accounts from peers and potential mentors may be the prompt those outside the industry need to apply for positions.
- Write a MyPath blog post—If your organization has found success with a particular recruitment tactic, or if you are passionate about a particular aspect of your job, you can write about your success, encourage others to do the same and share your story on LinkedIn, your company’s website and InsureMyPath.org.
- Build your network—Identify nearby universities offering risk management and insurance (RMI) majors, ask employees about connections they have to alumni groups or other industry associations, or locate the closest Gamma Sigma Iota chapter. Use these initial steps as a platform to become a guest speaker at a class or a mentor to an aspiring young professional.
Six steps you can take in the years ahead:
Once some of these basic initiatives are underway, begin mapping out a strategy to maximize the impact your efforts can have on recruiting top talent and raising awareness about the advantages of the industry.
- Look internally—Examine your organization as it stands today, assessing what employees value, along with common complaints. Establishing this baseline will give insight into how to improve and better target recruiting efforts, in addition to revealing areas of your company culture that could benefit from adjustments to attract top talent.
- Refine your internship program—One byproduct of insurance and risk management organizations’ struggling to recruit top talent is a need for internships that show top candidates what work in our industry is like. Internships should be challenging and ultimately rewarding for college students, with a focus on more long-term projects and regular substantive feedback.
- Review human resources policies—Researchers have spent considerable time identifying what millennials seek in a career. Analyze your company policies with these preferences in mind and consider ways to adjust your policies, including by implementing flexible hours, remote work options or a more casual dress code.
- Boost college recruitment efforts—Build on initial research into nearby colleges and industry groups. Ensure that your internship listings are easy to find and that your company is well represented at local schools’ career offices and job fairs. If you are active in a local CPCU Society chapter, consider inviting local students to a chapter meeting and host a speed networking session.
- Provide time off for industry service—A significant number of employers offer time off for community service. Consider doing the same for industry service. Activities could range from presenting at local career fairs to reviewing resumes of students in the closest Gamma Sigma Iota chapter to presenting at a local RMI class.
- Check your progress—As you refine HR policies and update programs, take necessary steps to ensure that your changes are having the intended effect. Survey employees about their jobs, conduct exit interviews with departing employees, and follow up with applicants and college students to see what they thought of your culture.
Looking Past 2024
Much emphasis has been put on the specifics of the insurance industry’s pending talent gap—how millennials are different than previous generations of employees, how the insurance industry’s reputation has shifted and more. But every generation entering the workforce is different than the preceding one. Stay attuned to these differences when developing policies and recruitment initiatives. What may work for the next few years may not be what the next generation desires in a career.
The industry should look at the forecasted talent gap not as a short-term challenge but as a long-term opportunity to continuously focus on recruitment efforts, perceptions and the evolving workforce. If we get this right, we will set ourselves up for continued success—and Insurance Careers Month will become another way to spread awareness for generations to come.