An Industry in (Talent) Crisis

“Boring.” That’s the word that comes to mind for many young professionals when they think of a career in insurance and this misconception is costing the industry. With an estimated 400,000 insurance professionals expected to retire over the next couple of years, the insurance industry is battling to attract talent. The challenge doesn’t end there, however. It’s not just a question of back-filling positions vacated by retirees, it’s also about building a workforce that’s diverse demographically-speaking, as well as in skills and experience. The need to fill positions is also exacerbated by timing—this problem is hitting at the same moment that carriers are retooling their operations to become more profitable, which will require data and analytics talent within IT, actuarial and underwriting departments.

Young professionals are looking for collaborative, socially conscious organizations – expectations that are very different than their parents and grandparents had when entering the workforce decades ago. In addition, millennials tend to have different work priorities and styles, having been raised in a tech-savvy, customer-centric world.  It’s no wonder that the reputation the industry has as one that’s boring and bureaucratic can be very disparaging to new grads and young professionals.

So, what is the real cost of this talent crisis? Aside from the additional resources needed for recruitment and the strain put on existing employees as positions remained unfilled, not having a diverse workforce can hurt your company’s bottom line. According to a study by the American Sociological review, companies with the highest levels of racial diversity brought in nearly 15 times more sales revenue on average than those with the lowest levels of racial diversity. Furthermore, companies with more female board members achieved 66% higher performance on invested capital than those with fewer women. The stiff competition for top IT talent can delay infrastructure upgrades and new software implementations because there simply aren’t enough people to get the work done quickly.

The good news is that this is a talent pool that’s ripe for the fishing, if the industry can adapt. 51% of recent grads feel that they are underemployed and female millennials are entering the global workforce in larger numbers than ever. In the past, insurance companies built their businesses on profits from investments, but as those margins continue to dwindle and the focus shifts to underwriting profits, an emphasis on analytics talent becomes more important. To hire and retain this talent, companies must put an emphasis on diversity, understand what young professionals want and showcase the strengths of this industry: It’s stable, rewarding and limitless. It’s the career trifecta.

February is Insurance Careers Month (ICM) and the ICM grassroots collaboration is dedicated to spreading the word about the #CareerTrifecta. In this month, insurance professionals are being called upon to bring attention to this talent gap and all that the insurance industry has to offer – on social media, at networking events and through platforms like InVEST and MyPath. To learn more, please visit insurancecareertrifecta.org for information and resources about how each of us can help close the talent gap.