September 1, 2022
Insurance Agencies Develop New Career Paths to Retain Top Talent
by Kris Gibson
The insurance industry is, to those outside of it, a bit of a mystery. Everyone knows they have insurance on cars, homes, and health, some on life, though it is amazing how many people really don’t understand the nuances of those coverages.
When you get into careers in the industry, things are even more of a mystery to those outside the walls. Working for an insurance agency is like attending Hogwarts- everyone knows it exists, but seldom does anyone who hasn’t passed through the halls really have any understanding of what goes on inside. My work comes up from time to time with friends or family members and on the rare occasion where we delve into a real discussion, most of them are shocked to learn about the kinds of roles, compensation, and advancement opportunities that exist.
One thing I’ve always enjoyed about many of our best clients is their flexibility. It comes out in many ways, but one specific place is in how they are not enslaved by an organizational chart. Many of the best agencies are more fluid. Sure, there are certain roles and functions that must be performed, but their flexibility to create and adapt allows them to not just hire people to fill boxes on an org chart, but rather build boxes around great employees, their skills, abilities, and long-term goals.
Many agencies create and grow positions to accommodate their top talent. An Account Manager today may want to grow into higher level service work, but also take on more marketing, loss control, or management of staff. In a traditional environment, the growth and roles available are defined and inflexible. In insurance agencies, oftentimes they can blend duties, shaping and reshaping the rest of the department or organization to ensure coverage of all essential functions while still creating the unique blends sought by so many.
This is evidenced not only in new hires we assist our clients in making, but also in talking with people who are looking for a change. “I wear a lot of hats” is a phrase I hear weekly. In some cases, it is a positive. In others, the blending of roles has become too much and a person is no longer getting what they want. The wearing of multiple hats (and oftentimes unique or unusual combinations) is certainly not exclusive to the industry, but it is more common in insurance agencies than in many other organizations.
Perhaps the most unique situation I have encountered is a very accomplished group benefits producer who also serves as the HR person for her agency. True story. She has a book over $1,000,000 in revenue she produced, but she also does all of the HR functions for the agency. By all accounts she wouldn’t have it any other way.
So, how do you get a role that is more unique or created for you? First, you have to prove yourself as an employee worth of retaining. That’s the easy part though- after all, you’re awesome! Then you need to know what you want. What do you enjoy? How do you want to grow and be challenged? Finally, you must communicate that to the people who can provide it to you. As simple as it sounds, an open and honest relationship with great communication between you and your boss is the best way to get your agency to utilize their flexibility to create the perfect role for you.