The Changing Workplace & Competition for Talent

Sibylle Fischer
March 30, 2022
Innovation, Digitalisation
As we enter a new phase of the pandemic, insurers must rethink the workplace, especially their approach to recruiting, managing and retaining talent.

The insurance industry has been working on its approach to recruitment and retention for years, especially as demand for highly-skilled tech and data science employees intensified across sectors. Today, as Covid restrictions recede and many organizations begin thinking about a return to the office, the strategic realignment of the entire work ecosystem has emerged as a strategic imperative – from reskilling opportunities, to incentives, to workplace flexibility and more.

COVID-19 Challenges & The Great Resignation

Between the lightning-fast move to remote operations and the pressing need to accelerate digital transformation, the Covid-19 pandemic created a range of issues for insurance companies and employers in general. At the same time, unrelenting turnover and a tightening labor market has led to a 20-year high voluntary quit rate, recently termed “The Great Resignation.”

But, even before the pandemic and The Great Resignation, insurance incumbents have been dealing with a talent retention crisis inside the industry. This is especially true in technology and data science roles, where churn is steady and skill gaps are widening. 

Part of the problem in attracting and retaining talent inside the insurance industry hinges on some deeply held, increasingly old-fashioned attitudes about the workplace. While tech companies have been overwhelmingly quick to enact permanent work from home policies, insurance companies have been slower to follow suit, with many decision makers reluctant to fully embrace the switch. 

But as more and more work across job sectors goes remote, employees are no longer limited by their geography. Thanks to broadband and innovations in telework tech, current and prospective employees have more choice than ever before. For insurers, the time to rethink and even reinvent the traditional workplace is now.

A New Talent Strategy

A recent Harvard Business Review post highlighted 6 areas employers should use to boost retention, including loyalty incentives like immediate vesting in long-term compensation plans, work-from-home stipends, and prioritizing workplace culture. 

Other talent strategies for today’s insurers emphasize the importance of moving toward a hybrid workplace – looking specifically at different employee roles and evaluating their mobility to determine how much an employee should work from home. Doing this kind of re-evaluation of the workplace has real estate implications, impacting physical office space requirements, footprints, and holdings in general. But embracing a more flexible work environment is likely to be a non-negotiable part of the future of work.

Investing in the reinvention of existing employees, especially when it comes to digital proficiency, will also be mission critical. Upskilling and reskilling employees gives workers renewed purpose and adds value beyond their immediate role, extending to the entire organization. While recruiting highly-skilled, experienced professionals should remain a goal, there’s much to be gained from providing existing team members with opportunities for growth and professional development – especially as some job functions within the industry become obsolete in the face of automation. 

 

Time for a Reinvention

The challenge to recruit, manage and retain top talent is not going away. In the last several years, we’ve all learned about the importance of adaptability and resilience, both at work and at home. As our industry evolves, we should be looking at many of our entrenched processes and strategies with a discerning eye – ready to adapt and make changes in ways that make sense for the world we’re living in.