Despite plenty of vacancies, finding and retaining good staff can be a headache these days. Unfortunately there’s no magic bullet, but here are some tried and tested insights. We’ve collated some of the best tips with help from the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, the American Agents Alliance, Insurance Technologies Corporation, Independent Agency Magazine, and the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America Incorporated.
Where To Find Staff
A great place to start is social networks – starting with LinkedIn. Did you know that you can post a job listing free on LinkedIn? Also reach out to other agents, carrier reps, clients―and spread the word via community/industry job boards. Your employees can also help. A modest bonus could incentivize them to use their networks to find quality referrals. And don’t forget about veterans with their work-ethic and results-focus. Check out MilitaryOneSource and the Veterans’ Training And Employment Service.
Effective Recruiting Tactics
Recruiting can be hit-or-miss if you don’t pay attention to the details, like the following:
- Write specific, laser-focused job descriptions: The better you are at articulating what you really need from an applicant, the more likely you’ll find a suitable match.
- Communicate early and often: Signal your intent to hire only candidates who are serious about the job by being serious about the recruiting process yourself.
- Rather than relying exclusively on “gut feeling,” consider using behavioral assessments too. These can uncover personality traits, workplace preferences, and motivators, helping you more accurately predict the likelihood of a candidate’s fit and success with your agency. Here’s one such service to get a feel for what’s offered – they partner with the American Agents Alliance.
- Hire for ability, train for potential. When hiring, choose candidates that can hit the ground running with minimal supervision. But also hire with an eye to potential for growth with your agency. Remember – your ultimate goal is to grow and deepen your talent bench.
Once you make contact with a promising candidate, communicate early and often to nurture the lead, just as you would a client.
How And What To Pay Them
One of the biggest barriers to hiring is finding the funds, and these days salary expectations may be even harder to match. You might need to pay a new hire more than existing, equally capable staff are getting. This disparity (called salary compression) is not optimal, but if you really need them, you may need to pay the asking price, then figure out how to manage that internally. Although there’s no easy, single solution to resolve this situation, some strategies can help. These include creating promotional paths and career ladders for experienced employees, and attracting new hires with a combination of base salary plus signing, performance or attendance bonuses to minimize internal equity issues.
A particular new-hire pain point is carrying them during onboarding and training before they are fully operational and contributing to the bottom line. Your Credit Union came up with a solution. Our Agency Staffing Loan is low cost –about $200 a month for every $10,000 borrowed at our lowest rate. And with a 90-day payment deferral, this loan won’t cost you anything until your new hire starts producing. Speak to your business consultant to learn more and explore how this can help you.
Where To Work?
No longer will the status quo― a brick-and-mortar office ― be the norm for many businesses. Many companies and staff have found that remote working, at least for part of the time, can be effective. Even if no longer needed from a healthcare standpoint―this approach may serve as a perk, reducing everyday stress and time associated with commuting, improving work-life balance and even reducing living expenses by allowing them to live in a lower-cost-of-living area. For employers, this may ultimately allow them to reduce the costs associated with physical office locations – either by moving to smaller or less expensive locations, or even closing physical offices
Keeping Them Motivated
Employee engagement rates have fluctuated significantly in 2021 with pent up frustrations weighing down on job satisfaction. Add to this the unprecedented churn in employment (an unusually high number have left or changed jobs in 2021) and you have a recipe for workplace instability. By reevaluating your approach to employee engagement, however, you can create an environment that energizes employees while contributing to your agency’s success. Here are some pressure-tested tips to help keep your agency’s employees happy and engaged.
1) Listen to individual needs. Take the time to ask employees how you can best support them, recognizing they may be navigating mental and physical health, childcare, financial concerns and more. Would flexible hours enable them to better meet the needs of their family, while giving them the time and space to focus on work? Are there any obstacles you can remove to help increase their efficiency?
2) Recreate in-office interactions. Even if staff are now working remotely, you must be intentional about maintaining and growing relationships. In a physical office space, individuals have impromptu conversations in the breakroom, catch up in the hallways, or even walk together to pick up coffee or lunch. These informal interactions strengthen relationships and create trust among teammates.
3) Commit to frequent communication. Establish frequent and transparent methods of communication to foster connectivity among employees and alleviate feelings of uncertainty. This also helps individuals stay focused on organizational goals.
4) Reevaluate your tools. Take a fresh look at the means your team uses for communications, project management, customer relationship management and more. Are these still meeting your team’s needs? What other options or more streamlined technology might be worth exploring? Consider employees at all points of the technology spectrum.
5) Enhanced recognition and incentives. Rethink your approach to employee recognition and incentive programs for a fully or partially remote environment. Seek employee feedback: what is working well, what is not? Are there companywide projects that could be made into contests? Engaging in friendly competition is a great way to bring employees together and help connect those who might feel isolated.
By reevaluating your approach to hiring and onboarding while prioritizing open communication and feedback, you can create a strong team within a virtual or flexible work environment that retains employees and energizes them throughout their careers with you.