The insurance industry’s talent problems are no longer looming — they are here. While it may take many components to find a potential solution to this problem, one area that should get our immediate focus is employee development.

For nearly a decade, insurance professionals have discussed this talent gap and brainstormed potential solutions to make our workforce younger, more diverse and more innovative. The industry has made strides in getting the next generation to sample a career in insurance through apprenticeships, internships and more, but retaining talent remains a challenge.

Now, leaders within our industry should take time to reflect on what’s working and what solutions we may not have explored enough, particularly those related to enhancing the career development of employees. Through strong continuing education programs, as well as opportunities that allow employees to explore other areas of the business, we may be able to counter this issue—while also more efficiently managing costs through re-skilling as opposed to recruiting new talent.

Sampling Different Roles

Recruiting new talent is often time consuming and expensive. Per McKinsey, replacing an employee may cost more than 100 percent of an annual salary. Re-skilling and continued education may be a solution, as the same McKinsey study found that successful re-skilling can cost less than 10 percent of a role’s salary.

Exposing early career insurance professionals to a broader array of career options within a company can be a powerful way to help them find their passion in the industry. This was how I found my path.

I began my career nearly 10 years ago as an intern working on our transition team coordinating a corporate affiliation. As my first experience in a business environment, it quickly taught me the importance of understanding how departments and roles work together to meet goals. The experience was fascinating and energizing and made me eager to learn more. From there, I was given the opportunity to get my feet wet as an underwriter, where I also supported a new product launch. After gaining critical insurance knowledge, I was able to work within our IT department, where I took experience from my previous roles to help develop and roll out our company intranet and upgrade our customer relationship management database.

Recent graduates don’t always know where they want to take their careers… Opportunities to sample different career paths can help them see where their skill sets best align.

Throughout these years, I was afforded the opportunity to support and eventually lead PLM through four additional renewal rights deals. While building my skills in a variety of roles and projects, my growing context helped me understand what I value in the industry and where my skills could make the greatest impact. My most recent stop has landed me in the marketing department, where I have been able to make an even stronger connection with the industry, the company and my teams.

These experiences allowed me to find my best fit. We should take this same approach with the next generation.

Recent graduates don’t always know where they want to take their careers. Even when they do have an idea, they are often so set on one role that they don’t take the time to see other opportunities that actually may be a better fit for their skill set. Opportunities to sample different career paths, however, can help them see where their skill sets best align.

Continuing Education

Continuing education incentives can also assist in boosting team morale, interest in their jobs and ultimately retention. Over the years, we’ve heard from employees leaving the industry, complaining they were not challenged in their positions or didn’t have opportunities to grow professionally.

At PLM, we pay for continuing education programs for those who want to further their studies in general business or insurance. We encourage our team to pursue industry designations, fully funding those efforts and rewarding them financially, as well.

Business leaders should consider companywide policies on regular continuing education and establish plans for managers to work with employees so they feel their career success and development is a core priority for the business.

While the talent gap may not have an immediate fix, as an industry we can continue to take steps to mitigate its impact. Through reshaping our approach to talent development, we can help early career professionals find their passion in insurance, cultivate this passion and ultimately find their home in the industry.