Are People Really Your Most Important Asset?: A View from the Insurance Industry
By Steve Hatfield, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP
The economic volatility in recent months has created a set of challenging business problems for many insurance companies. Many insurance companies have lost significant market value. The sudden loss of value has created a set of immediate business challenges that include managing profitability, share values and market capitalization, liquidity, customer retention and talent.
Before the current economic meltdown, insurance companies already had been battling to close growing significant talent gaps in parts of their workforce. Over the past few years, older workers have been retiring in droves and there weren’t enough young workers to replace them. At the same time, increasing competition and growth in the retirement market put insurers under intense pressure to innovate, enhance their service offerings, improve the customer experience and ramp up their sales engine. All of these forces have increased the demands for new skills and greater capacity in an increasingly competitive talent market.
The question is: How do insurers manage short-term business challenges at the same time as setting a framework for the future? What is the impact on the current business climate on how companies should move forward? How can they take advantage of the market to position themselves for the future?
Re-brand your talent image. Gen Y views the insurance industry as unattractive and boring, with limited growth potential. Yet amid the current economic uncertainty, the stability and security of the insurance industry may be viewed in a new light. Gen Y places a strong priority on social responsibility and corporate mission. The insurance industry long has been a standout in this regard but has done little to tell the story. This is an excellent opportunity for insurers to re-shape their image at a time when it will resonate strongly in the talent marketplace.
Use technology to both enable and attract workers. Predictive modeling technology can help underwriting staff do more with less. Knowledge management tools can help companies retain valuable knowledge and develop new staff as experienced workers retire. Virtual workplace technologies can help expand the talent pool to include offshore labor and people working from home. (By the way, more and more “call centers” are actually virtual, rather than physically centralized). Technologies like these can help boost the capacity of the existing workforce, support development of new staff and help attract new hires.
Focus on non-traditional talent pools. The fastest growing labor pool in the United States is retirees and seniors, many of whom are now financially unprepared for retirement. These folks are living longer and want to work but perhaps not the standard 40 hour work week. No one has “cracked the code” on how to tap into this valuable labor pool; however, insurers have the type of work that could appeal to this market segment.
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Steve Hatfield is a principal with the insurance practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP.
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