From devastating bushfires to the global pandemic, the Australian insurance industry has certainly dealt with a lot in the past two years. That’s why now more than ever, it’s vital you retain your most valuable assets; your top performing employees.
While you may feel the answer lies in upwardly adjusting their pay packet, for many insurance professionals, it’s not all about money. They’re looking for a key combination of challenge, recognition and empowerment. Here are a few ways you can meet that need so you can hold tight to your best staff.
- Foster An ‘Open Door’ Policy
Most employee problems can be addressed and solved … provided you know about them. That’s why it’s critical your employees know they can openly speak to you about issues without fear of reprisal, as well as impart ideas for improvement. Listening is important, but so is actioning their feedback, as it will truly cement their feelings of value.
One way to begin to open up the channels of communication is to regularly share what’s going on with the business, both positives and negatives. Add a further layer by relating how individual employee efforts impact the company’s end goals. It’s very easy for an underwriter for instance, to get mired in data and lose sight of the bigger picture. Your direct reminder of the impact they make helps them attach meaning to their work – an essential for retention.
Unfortunately, management is often the number one reason people look for a new position. Part of developing an open culture could be seeking direct feedback about your leadership style from employees. Ask them what is and isn’t working for them when it comes to the way you manage and lead so you can work on ways to implement change.
- Give Staff As Much Autonomy As You Can
Micromanagement may work well in some fields, but not in the insurance game. Give your staff the freedom to make decisions about how they go about their work. It promotes a sense of ownership and pride when they achieve their goals. This doesn’t mean you have to take a complete backseat, but instead focus on providing a supporting role – a safety net should they need it.
- Provide A Challenging Work Environment
While remuneration is important for retention, so is feeling like your work is meaningful, both intrinsically and to the company at large. When meaning wanes and staff feel like they’re stagnating, it’s very easy to being to look elsewhere.
There are many ways to help employees feel the work they do matters. Aligning tasks with their expertise is one, but another is providing them with increased responsibilities that help them hone new skills and expand their knowledge base. Support this with personal and/or professional development opportunities such as:
- Studying for new insurance certifications
- Job shadowing other employees in an area of interest
- Joining a cross-functional project
- Taking part in a mentorship program (either as a mentor or mentoree)
To be truly valuable, it’s important to individually meet with staff to uncover what excites them, and then set up a clear career progression pathway to follow with short and long-term goals. Regularly review progress (at least every 3-6months) and tweak where necessary.
It’s worth noting the Financial Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identified that the most important skill areas for the financial and insurance sectors were: customer service, critical thinking, learning agility and data analysis. Focusing training plans on these areas may be beneficial for both you and your employees.
- Offer Flexible Working Arrangements
Thanks to the pandemic, many staff have recently had an enforced taste of working from home and many seem to enjoy the flexibility it brings. Being able to drop the kids off to school, care for an elderly relative or simply create a better work-life balance are perks they’ve enjoyed.
As employees Australia-wide slowly return to physical office spaces, some may not be happy with this arrangement. If so, they’ll look to companies that can provide greater flexibility. This is why it’s a worthy task to check in with your most valuable players about their work location preferences, and see if you can meet those needs. Demonstrating you care about them as a whole person, both in and outside of work, is a very enticing incentive for them to remain where they are.
- Regularly Review Compensation Packages
In such a competitive field, it can be tricky staying ahead of the curve when it comes to salary going rates (you can always ask us!). But it’s imperative that you do.
By keeping on top of salary rates, your talent shouldn’t ever feel like they have to ask for more money (or look elsewhere for more). A competitive salary also demonstrates you value their work; they’re more than just an ‘expense’.
As for benefits, personalisation is the way to go. Survey staff about the benefits most important to them and then consider what tailored packages you can offer.
- Make Time For Recognition
According to a very large Gallup study, companies with the highest staff engagement levels effectively use recognition. Employees who regularly have increased productivity levels, receive higher customer loyalty and satisfaction scores, and are more likely to stay with their organisation.
Aim to recognise your staff on average once a week. How you choose to do that is up to you but some suggestions include:
- A simple daily ‘thank you for …’
- One-on-one meetings
- Public forums such as team or whole-company meetings
- Digital communications (newsletter, social media etc)
- Awards (team member of the month, free team lunch, half a day off etc)
- Social activities (tenpin bowling, team lunches, card night, family events etc)
- In office services & treats (gourmet lunch delivery, massages, lunchtime games/trivia, ‘theme’ days)
Need Some Extra Support?
These are just six suggestions to help you retain your all-important insurance talent. Our expert team of insurance recruitment professionals have plenty more, so feel free to get in touch if you’d like some further assistance.