In an extremely competitive job market, finding and retaining desirable talent is tougher than ever, for any organization. In a climate where people are a hot commodity, addressing typical turnover through attrition is difficult enough, but employers focused on growth are especially challenged as they seek to increase revenue.
Tackling this competitive talent market has been a challenging and exciting opportunity for us at RogersGray. Moreover, the insurance industry suffers from an even narrower candidate pool.
According to the Jacobson Group, a recruitment firm specializing in the insurance space, the insurance industry is currently subject to a 2.7% unemployment rate as of October 2020, more than four points lower than the US unemployment rate at that same time.
Knowing that our talent market was shrinking and that a larger portion of our workforce was set to retire, threatening to leave significant gaps both in knowledge and in physical bodies, we started working several years ago with our industry partners to understand the talent outlook for the future. We responded by taking inventory of our approach to recruitment and developing an entirely new strategy. We committed to focusing our efforts in a few areas that would have the greatest impact.
INVESTING IN TECHNOLOGY AND RESOURCES
Investing in recruitment technology was a critical first step in preparing our organization for our planned growth. Managing the hiring process by manually posting to job boards, tracking each job and applicant through email chains, and documenting with paper files was tedious and unscalable. Employing an automated solution would allow us to provide a streamlined and efficient experience for our candidates, who may lose interest in us if we were too slow or ‘behind-the-times’. This is why, in 2016, we chose a suitable applicant tracking system (ATS) that met our needs.
We also sought to integrate a little more science into the process, to help us assess our candidates’ suitability. Using pre-hire profile assessments provided invaluable data that helped us make hiring decisions, manage our employees once onboard, and find a consensus internally about what competencies and personalities are best suited for success in our organization.
It was essential to add actual humans to our organization to manage and expand our recruitment efforts. Measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) directly tied to your success as a desirable employer result in less turnover and quicker talent placement, significantly impacting your bottom line. When adding staff is not possible, refocusing existing personnel towards goals specific to recruitment helps manage costs while still committing to a proactive approach to recruitment.
It is no longer an option to “post and pray.” In fact, it hasn’t been an option for quite a while. In order to stay competitive in the talent market, recruitment strategies must be focused on proactivity. At RG, we have designed our recruitment process to mimic our sales approach, incorporating elements like “lead” generation, cold-calling, outreach campaigns, social media marketing and advertising, and community events and networking into our recruitment activities. When you add these to a healthy dose of more traditional recruitment efforts like job fairs and external recruiters, we are able to get in front of passive job seekers in as many ways possible. Passive job seekers who feel “wooed” by such activities may be more likely to engage in the interviewing process and lead to more hires.
FOCUSING ON CAREER PATHING & DEVELOPMENT
One of the biggest challenges in our particular marketplace is that knowledge and experience are necessary to do the job correctly. When our workforce retires, they take that knowledge with them and leave an enormous gap. Filling that gap with someone who has a comparable level of knowledge and experience is expensive, time-consuming, and nearly impossible given the current insurance unemployment rate.
To combat this, we started working years ago to build the infrastructure necessary to bring in new people from outside the industry. We built our RogersGray University (RGU) to be able to “home-grow” our own. We started small, but now are reaping the benefits of having six employees solely dedicated to the learning & development of our people. We’ve now widened our talent pool to include those who have the right transferrable skills and who will be a cultural enhancement and just need us to fill in the knowledge gaps. Not only does it give us a wider range of talent, it’s also an attractive differentiator when having conversations with prospective employees. People like knowing they will have the training and support they need in their job, and we’re committed to providing it.
Similarly, we have also provided opportunities for advancement and more robust career pathing options for our prospective and current employees. We’ve restructured departments to create more entry-level positions from which people can grow and advance. We’ve also employed further technology to allow our employees to explore the many different career paths they could take within our organization. This focus on advancement and career pathing is not only meant to help attract talent, but is key to retaining our existing talent. We also ensure the sustainability of the organization we envision tomorrow by building that essential bench talent.
YOUR PEOPLE ARE YOUR BEST RESOURCE
Good people attract good people. It’s as simple as that. We think “Our People” are awesome and want to attract talent who are as hard-working and invested as the people we know and love. Building an easy and effective employee referral program has been essential to the success of our Talent Acquisition department. Employee referrals account for 25-50% of our agency’s hires over the last few years. We’ve achieved this by incentivizing employees and automating the process. An app simplifies everything for employees, who can earn a substantial referral bonus if their candidate is hired. Being generous with our people is an investment that saves the agency money in the long run – we avoid expensive turnover by having more qualified candidates, we avoid external recruiter fees, and we fill positions faster.
Ultimately, the best recruitment strategy involves being a marketable, desirable employer. Investing in the tools and resources to scale your recruitment efforts, employing people who are passionate and focused on attracting talent to your organization, and having something to offer unlike others in your marketplace (like advancement and growth opportunities) will make it easy for your people to find more people for you. As the talent pool continues to shrink, we will continue to look for innovative ways to stay competitive.
Senior Vice President, Chief People Officer
Allison McEachern is responsible for RogersGray’s most trusted asset – its people. As Chief People Officer, Allison oversees the agency’s hiring and training functions.
Allison joined RogersGray in 2011 as an Account Executive in our Employee Benefits division, and most recently held the role of Director of Employee Benefits. Prior to joining RogersGray, Allison’s past Human Resources experience included positions at Frito Lay, Inn Seasons Resorts and The Black Dog. Allison holds a Bachelors Degree from Stonehill College and is Massachusetts licensed as a Life & Health Producer. Allison sits on the Board of Directors for Community Connections Inc., is a member of the Yarmouth Rotary Club, New England HR Association, and the Society for HR.