Retaining Top Talent on Your Employee Benefits Team

Clients need your employee benefits agency now more than ever, as they strive to create a new-normal workplace that enables employees and the company to thrive. They’re looking to you because you have the expertise to help them create a successful workplace.

Above view of young consultant shaking hands with her client

Your sales and customer service teams and those who lead your employee benefits agency are all highly valuable knowledge workers. These talented individuals possess critical hard and soft skills they use every day to stay on the cutting edge of the insurance industry and employee benefits best practices and to serve clients with confidence, diligence and empathy. That kind of expertise is hard to find, especially in today’s hotly competitive hiring marketplace.

Retaining Your Top Talent Is Essential

Improving retention reduces the need to spend time and money scouring the HR marketplace for replacement personnel, so your HR/TA staff can focus on other people-related priorities. Better retention also brings other benefits:

  •         Skills retention and opportunities to mentor/cross-train colleagues
  •         Familiarity with corporate history and client base
  •         Leadership development pool
  •         Relief from turnover-induced stress, frustration, and expense
  •         Ability to move forward smoothly to achieve business goals

Employees who enjoy a great working experience are motivated to deliver great client experiences, which strengths customer loyalty and long-term revenue retention. Plus, with a reputation as a Great Place to Work, you have one more valuable selling point to attract new top talent.

Retention in 2022 Is All About Meeting Individuals Where They Are

But while employee retention is more important than ever, it is also more complex than ever. To get it right, you need to know where workplace trends are headed in general and, in specific, what among these trends is most meaningful to your own people.  

Consider these statistics revealed by a recent global insurance industry study sponsored by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network:

  •         94% of employees would prefer to work remotely all the time, or at least sometimes.
  •         71% of employees (78% of those 30 or younger) say diversity and inclusion in the workplace have become more important to them.
  •         69% of employees (74% of younger ones) say their employer’s environmental responsibility is now more important.
  •         For the vast majority, good relationships with colleagues has overtaken good work-life balance as the #1 most important aspect of their job. Retention now depends on building and maintaining a strong, inclusive culture that foster social and emotional connection no matter where workers are located.

Nearly half of respondents are worried that digitation and automation will make their role within the insurance industry redundant. As a result, 71% view re-skilling opportunities not only as a professional development benefit but as a potential job-saver.

“Flexibility around how, where, and when people work is no longer a differentiator, it’s now table stakes.”

So says a report on workplace trends for 2022 just released by Gartner and the Harvard Business Review. Of particular note for employee benefits agencies looking to boost retention:

  •         Fairness. With 90% of employers moving to a hybrid working model, fairness and equity will be the “defining issue” for all types of enterprises. The report says addressing “how they manage fairness and equity across the increasingly varied employee experience will be the #1 priority for HR executives in 2022 and beyond.”

For example, if your organization offers flexible work options (and most do now, post-pandemic), how will this option be applied fairly to all employees? If your firm plans to offer higher compensation to lure new hires, is that fair to current employees?

  •         Compensation. Some companies that don’t have the funds to boost salaries as a retention measure may instead offer knowledge workers a 32-hour work week, giving them more free time rather than more money.
  •         Well-being. Employee happiness no longer revolves solely around the job itself but reflects a composite of personal mental, physical and financial health. Toward that end, 94% of companies are investing heavily in well-being programs in all three areas. However, they are also having to invest in promoting these and other benefits, to inform employees and encourage actual usage.

So, What Can You Do?

As we note in our detailed guide, “How to Retain Top Talent in Your Employee Benefits Agency,” adaptability is fundamental to success. Here are some highlights from the guide:

  •         Focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. The statistics above underscore how critical this now to attract and retain employees. And, frankly, your employee benefits team will thrive like never before if they can draw from a wide range of cultural perspectives, experience-based approaches to collaboration and problem solving, and so on. Encourage everyone to actively participate, and acknowledge the value of their ideas and other contributions.
  •         Support and encourage continuous improvement. Top-performing employees want to pursue both professional and personal development. They take pride in learning because they can be even more effective in the near term and grow their career over time. Investing in your top talent helps boost retention, since a whopping 93% of employees say career development significantly affects their employer loyalty. Professional development is also an investment in quality client service and your agency’s future.
  •         Review and update your employee benefits. It’s what you do every day for your clients, but you have to “walk the talk” to retain your own top talent. Get their input, because “benefits” are only that if they provide meaningful support or assistance to real people. Undertaking a benefits-refresh project is an excellent way to gain deeper insight into your people, their desires and concerns, and other ways you can foster greater engagement and higher retention.

And keep reminding everyone of various benefits opportunities, because things change. Personal preferences, lifestyles and life stages all determine which of your benefits will be most useful at any given point. As time passes, it’s easy for employees to forget about options that didn’t initially appeal to them.  

  •         Make sure top talent has top tools. Technology can be a two-edged sword since many insurance industry employees now worry they will be automated out of their job. But the truth is that technology and upskilling to use new tech tools allow your best people to use their high-value human abilities instead of wasting time and energy on mundane tasks. Employees who have the tools and training to work well and efficiently know that you appreciate them for their ability to contribute.
  •         Be a good neighbor. An increasing number of employees, especially younger generations, expect their company to be an active member of the larger community. Whether it’s lending your voice to social issues or lending a hand to support local organizations, active involvement outside your company can boost your reputation with employees. Working together on non-business projects builds camaraderie and team-power, too.  
  •         Deliver on your promises. New hires arrive with expectations set by you regarding their role and responsibilities and likely future with your business, not to mention the working environment itself. Disappointment leads to turnover, so get them off to a great start with an onboarding process that will help them fit in quickly and comfortably. And keep your promises.
  •         Hire the right people in the first place. Retention and hiring go hand-in-hand. But the intricacies of sourcing and attracting top talent you need have escalated, and the competition for the best of the best is just plain tough. At the same time, internal HR and talent acquisition teams have their hands full with many other equally important issues. Partnering with an experienced recruiting team allows you to maintain momentum and secure the exceptional new talent you need to grow your agency and create a workplace where people want to stay.

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