As the U.S. insurance workforce ages, finding qualified people to work for them is a constant problem for insurance agencies. The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) reported recently that finding and retaining talent is agency principals’ number one worry. The good news is there are more options than ever before for finding good people.
One increasingly popular way to find talent is to work with virtual staffing agencies. These companies provide trained agency staff at remote locations, assisting agencies with everything from mail management to account service. One such company, Agency Administrators, was founded by an independent agent who wanted to outsource the service work and focus on selling. There weren’t any companies offering that, so he created one. There are listings for several other reputable firms on the Insurance Agency Staffing page on this website.
These firms are more frequently employing workers located overseas. While using foreign staff may seem daunting at first, it can save significant amounts of money. The cost of outsourced staffing can be as low as one-third the cost of local employees, once you factor in salaries, benefits, and other costs. For small or startup agencies, the cost savings can make a huge difference between profitability and treading water.
These types of firms relieve agencies of the cost, time and work involved in screening, interviewing and selecting new hires. They also broaden the pool of potential employees beyond those in the agency’s immediate area, something more agencies are taking advantage of.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, many employers, including insurance agencies, have become comfortable with their employees working from home or other remote locations. Surveys show that many employees like it and expect potential employers to offer this option. Agencies are finding that they can find good people all over the country whose employers do not permit remote work. For example, an agency in Rochester, New York was able to hire two experienced employees in Buffalo whose agency required them to work in the office.
Forming strong relationships with high schools, community colleges and four-year colleges can help identify future employees. Project InVEST, an IIABA program, works with high schools around the country to educate students on insurance and careers in the industry. Working with your local schools to found or maintain an InVEST program may pay great dividends in the future.
A few colleges, such as St. John’s University in New York City and Penn State, offer risk management majors. Most others offer programs in business, law, marketing and information technology. Insurance employees have come from these and other disciplines. Many students graduate with no clear idea of what careers they want; relationships with college career offices can help attract young and talented people.
Participating in local job fairs can expose students and career-changers to your business. People in diverse fields such as education and law enforcement may want to do something different with their careers. Newly discharged veterans of the armed forces may be open to the industry; as a group they are disciplined, hard-working and accustomed to stressful conditions. Job fairs are a natural place to explain to them the many opportunities an insurance career can offer.
Job board websites, such as Indeed.com and ZipRecruiter.com, can advertise your job openings to a wide audience. Industry job sites, such as BigIHires.com, can do the same for those already looking for insurance jobs. Many agencies also have career pages on their websites. These methods are inexpensive and cast a wide net, but the quality of resumes and candidates can vary widely.
The competition for the best employees is likely to grow more intense in the near future. Agencies that are proactive and creative in recruiting will have advantages over their competitors and position their businesses for future growth.