October 10, 2022

Is Our Company at a Recruiting Disadvantage?

by Mary Newgard

The talent war is volatile. In response, you may have noticed how many “first time” situations in 2022 you went through to hire someone. The first time hiring 100% remote. The first time paying an account manager a signing bonus. The first time making a counter-offer.

Creative hiring strategies help attract top talent, but they can only do so much if you still have other barriers in your process. Many insurance organizations are their own worst enemy when it comes to recruiting. Take a moment to review this list of issues that put you at a recruiting disadvantage. Be honest. Ask yourself, “Are any of these things going on at our company?”

Ignoring the Remote Work Movement

Insurance Journal’s June 2020 article, How P/C Insurance Pros Are Faring Working From Home During Pandemic, cited their parent company, Wells Media Group’s, Coronavirus Survey. The article stated, “18% of insurance agency/broker respondents were already working from home prior to the pandemic.” It went on to say the number spiked during quarantine to as high as 51% for agency professionals and 70% for those working for insurance companies.

Being late to this party is a recruiting death sentence. Now, I’m not saying throw caution to the wind and hire anyone everywhere. I support the idea that for legitimate reasons you simply cannot allow work-from-home. However, too often I see insurance organizations ignore the topic, which:

  • Creates frustration with HR and hiring managers;
  • Confuses job seekers; and
  • Jeopardizes your employee retention.

Skip ahead if your company has guidelines in place for 100% remote workers, but if not, read no further until that happens. It’s that important to your recruiting success.

No Bonus Plan for Technical Positions

“Agency owners and managers (51.4%) responding to this year’s Agency Salary Survey reported an increased demand for higher pay in 2021,” Insurance Journal’s February 2022 Agency Salary Survey publication stated. One agency owner wrote in the survey: “There is a demand for higher salaries, sometimes by 20% or more.”

Your recruiting is disadvantaged if you do not offer bonus plans for CSRs, account managers, and account executives. Try to recruit an experienced insurance professional who is accustomed to receiving variable compensation, and you’ll need to compensate by offering a much higher salary. This creates pay compression, which I highlighted in October 2021’s Ask the Insurance Recruiter. Given that — “I haven’t seen an account manager make a job change in 2021 for any less than a 15-25% raise” — you’ll pay even more to overcome the lack of a bonus.

Drug Testing, Background Checks, & References

Speed is the #1 factor that influences hiring success. Drug tests, background checks, and references create delays, which lead to candidate drop-offs, counteroffers, and reneges.

Even if you say, “Well, we make contingent offers to buy time to complete background checks,” or “It only takes a couple days for us to get the results,” there is no scenario where:

  • A job seeker considers contingent and formal offers to be equal; and
  • A candidate doesn’t get snatched up by a company with a better offer in that time.

When is the last time your company evaluated its due diligence practices? Here is the reason I don’t like when agencies conduct drug and background checks:

“It’s what we’ve always done” is the only answer executives have when asked why the practice still happens.

How can you hire remote workers in states where marijuana is legal yet still require a negative drug test as a condition of employment?

Do you drug test employees onboarded via an acquisition? If not, then how do you explain testing certain new employees but not all? Inconsistent hiring practices lead to big HR problems down the road.

Do you allow redos? Believe me when I say that I’ve seen hiring managers tell candidates after a failed test, “I just need you to pass it. Take it one more time.”

“Ask the Insurance Recruiter” is a monthly column written by Mary Newgard, Partner and published in partnership with Insurance Journal Magazine. Visit Insurance Journal Magazine’s website for a complete list of previous articles. For questions and comments, email Mary at mnewgard@csgrecruiting.com


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