The “war for talent” sees carriers, especially of the mutual and mid-market type, battling to remain competitive and retain their access to top talent. Read on for our deep dive into these challenges and how your entity can overcome them.
At Gallagher Bassett, our solutions have been built through years of learnings as a leading provider of partnered solutions. We leverage and empower the right people to do an exemplary job, who have not only the skills to succeed, but the emotional intelligence to fit seamlessly into a client’s culture and engage their customers in the client’s voice.
The challenge of this balance is heightened for mutual and mid-market carriers, who are often dealing with capital constraints, reduced geographical access to talent and more niche skill requirements.
We spoke with Senior Vice President—Carrier Practice, Joe Berrios, for his insights into what it takes for them to create a winning workforce for the future.
“One approach we take to finding and keeping these skilled professionals is a three-part strategy focused on recruitment, retention, and reward and recognition.”
The first step is ensuring you’re recruiting the right people into the right roles. Skills, qualifications and experience all matter, but balancing values, cultural fit and core emotional competencies, such as empathy, is just as important as ensuring technical expertise, particularly in customer-facing roles.
Finding talent that meet all these criteria can be a challenge for mutual carriers, as well as small and mid-market carriers, so when you partner with our team at Gallagher Bassett you can be assured we’ll do the hard work for you. We conduct testing to identify a candidate’s strengths—technical, logical and emotional. Those results are used as a baseline—not just for deciding for and against a new hire’s fit for a role, but in forming their talent development plan and placement within the business to ensure teams represent a well-rounded cohort and meet each of our partnered client’s needs.
As a leader, it’s important to challenge your staff to develop skills outside their natural strengths—but in times of crisis people will revert to their inherent disposition, so it’s important to understand your people and place them in the right roles with the right team around them.
We also try to recruit a diverse workforce, not only based on the recommendations of our Equity, Inclusion & Diversity Steering Committee, but because it is important that our workforce reflect the customers, insureds and claimants with whom we interact. Ultimately, that leads to cultural competency and better communication between the parties involved, which is part of driving superior outcomes.
When it comes to retaining the right people, you’re already blessed with a wonderful resource for understanding what it would take to keep your people happy, engaged and employed—…your people! This is where mutual carriers often excel: Their natural structure, which prioritizes people and community, means that they do take the time to listen and create opportunities for employees to share their feedback. This is an important tactic to maintain in waging the war for talent, as it can allow you to focus on cultural initiatives that only address things your team values.
For example, keeping people engaged in the remote environment has delivered many learnings over the last 18 months. We’ve found at Gallagher Bassett that, for some, flexibility around time management is critical, for example where they’re juggling family duties and distractions around work commitments; others may be feeling increasingly isolated if they live alone. Understanding what it takes to keep folks engaged with their team creates a happier employee and drives a greater sense of connectivity with the overall business. For us, that has meant using tools like listening sessions and surveys to understand how people are feeling, what they need to be more successful in their role, and what we can do to support them.
Instead of asking, “What do we need to allow people to get the job done from home?’, we ask, “What do we need for people to do the job exceptionally from home—and how can we support them in doing that?” That small change in thinking has led to exploring new systems and new ways of working, which has seen employee satisfaction soar—with no decrease in claims outcomes, as proven by our quality, productivity and objective outcome data.
Another critical factor for retention is offering meaningful career pathways. Claims is the core of what we do at GB, so talent who work with us are able to fulfill a career in claims while being given plenty of options to diversify and increase their skillset. For many mutuals, having a constant pool of talent can be costly and ineffective, with only short career pathways available and a lack of opportunity. When you partner with a TPA like GB, you get access to our pool without the cost and effort required to fill it yourself.
Reward and recognition
Many businesses consider extrinsic rewards for employees (bonuses, promotions and benefits) an obvious fast-track to securing satisfaction, engagement and support. But it’s important to ensure your approach is rewarding and encouraging the right behavior, and delivering long-term results by offering something that is truly meaningful to the employee. Fast and flashy extrinsic rewards are valuable in sparking a rise in engagement, but with time, that solution wears thin. That’s where intrinsic rewards, such as the satisfaction of a job well done, or the enjoyment of feeling a valued member of the team, enter the picture. And it’s not just Millennials that desire meaningful endeavors, doing work that they believe in—it can be considered a core psychological need that, even in the work context, aligns with Abraham Maslow’s oft-quoted Hierarchy of Needs. Some R&R initiatives we implement at GB include our “Shout Outs” in the monthly newsletter, monthly “WOW” recipients, an annual Claims Recognition Program where our top Resolution Managers and Supervisors are recognized, a monthly spotlight for anniversaries with the company and birthdays, and an annual Celebration of Excellence for top teams.
This ability to recognize and celebrate the varied and meaningful career paths we can offer claims professionals is a critical factor in our ongoing commitment to the war for talent.
As the interface between your business and customers, your people play a critical role in the success of the company, but for many mutual, mid-market and small carriers these recommendations might not be realistic in the view of the career paths you’re able, or desire, to offer claims professionals. This is where partnering with a company that puts claims professionals at the core of their business can be a successful strategy.
If you’re a mutual, mid-market or small carrier who wants to access new, emerging and experienced talent to support your business goals, connect with our designated carrier experts Amy Cooper and Caryn Siebert.