It is a commonly held belief that there is a talent shortage in our industry. The best and brightest recruits, it is often said, pursue careers in more exciting professions like investment banking, consulting and coding. What’s more, these and other professions often pay higher entry-level salaries.
This is a real problem, as our industry can only be as good as the people who sit behind our desks, answer our phones and manage our clients’ risk. Yet, I believe we should first dig a little deeper before attempting to solve the problem.
Let’s begin, as most marketing practitioners do today, with narrative. Is it possible that insurance actually is an exciting profession, and we simply haven’t done a good job of sharing the good news? While I enjoy my work immensely, and would not trade it for work in any other SIC code, I do not think we are best served by selling our industry as being exciting.
That said, I do think our narrative hasn’t been properly framed. Risk management teamed with insurance solutions should be fertile ground for anyone who enjoys trouble shooting and problem solving. The same person who enjoys being challenged by a line of code or evaluating an investment could be similarly challenged by a hard-to-place coverage or previously undetected risk. It is our job to craft and deliver this story to the recruit.
While I am a strong believer in the power of money to help secure a comfortable, stable life, I also believe its narrow pursuit can betray a narrowness of purpose and goals. While it would be naïve to believe money should play no role in attracting high-quality employment candidates, maybe we don’t want candidates for whom financial reward is their prime motivator. This may not be the kind of person with whom we wish to trust our firm’s reputation.
Insurance is, by its very nature, a caring profession. When an employee gets sick or injured, workers compensation is there to provide support. When a home is burned down or a car is totaled, property and auto insurance are there to replace them. When a parent dies, life insurance spreads a safety net for the surviving spouse and children.
By effectively framing this narrative, recruiters can screen for individuals who wish to make the world a better place through their efforts at the workplace. The same people who choose to become teachers, nurses, guidance counselors and public advocates could choose to become underwriters, risk analysts, claims advocates or risk managers if we tell our story of care properly.
Risk analysis is, by its very nature, analytical. By effectively framing this narrative, recruiters can screen for individuals who like to solve complex problems in an orderly manner. While insurance may not be exciting, it also isn’t boring.
At our firm, KMRD Partners, we are conscientious about mixing business with pleasure. By scheduling summer picnics and winter luncheons, we hope all employees realize they are valued members of our work family. Sharing this message of fellowship and inclusiveness with recruits helps to build an appealing narrative.
We also engage our staff in various “hands on” charitable activities. One of these activities includes distributing hams to hungry families before the Thanksgiving season. Another one includes gathering and packing food for children who would otherwise go hungry.
These activities help to fulfill our employees’ desire to live with a sense of purpose. They are big-hearted, caring individuals who are not satisfied with simply achieving their own needs and requirements. They wish to also do good for others, and we make it our business to provide them with the means to do so.
This brings us back to solving our industry’s recruitment challenges. There is no gain in trying to present ourselves as something we are not. Even if we were successful in doing so, we would attract unhappy, unproductive recruits.
Our best strategy is to identify our strengths, build a compelling narrative and tell it to the right recruits. Once these recruits have been brought on board, we are challenged with continually helping them to fulfill their sense of purpose.
According to a theory advanced in a Harvard University study, human well-being depends on the satisfaction of three basic needs: relatedness, competence and autonomy. By fulfilling these needs at the insurance workplace, and effectively communicating our message to high-quality recruits, we will take control of a powerful narrative.
As in all things, success won’t be found in what you are not but in what you are.
We have a fabulous story. To sell it we must tell it.