Breaking down barriers to entry in the insurance industry

While this may come as a shock to some sectors, the insurance industry is no stranger to the challenges of acquiring and retaining talent. Insurance is an industry that people fall into or inherit, not one that people choose. This is because it is against other (seemingly) more exciting or lucrative careers in financial services, professional services and technology.

Thus, a barrier to entry is the (seemingly) outdated, slow, risk-taking nature of the insurance industry, as opposed to the golden careers promised in wealth management or the innovative incentives offered by technology companies.

Again, I use (seemingly) in parentheses because I believe that once you get some exposure to the insurance industry – directly as an employee or indirectly as someone related to the industry (like me) – you quickly realize that insurance is often anything but boring.

Read on: Learning from a DE&I mistake

So, the first barrier to entry that insurers have to overcome has to do with the look of the industry – and I think they’re doing a good job of that. Just check out all the amazing Diversity, Justice and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives that are underway in the industry around the world.

As the insurance workforce becomes more diverse, this opens the door to more talented people who will (hopefully) provoke a chain reaction simply by changing the narrative around the industry. Someone told me recently that “talent attracts talent” – and while I can no longer agree with that statement, it may have to be “diverse talents attract different talents”.

Another barrier to entry that stops young talent in their path is the “need for experience.” Nowadays, it is very rare to see an advertisement for an insurance job that is suitable for someone who comes straight from high school. In fact, entering the industry is difficult even for those with higher education because employers want experience.

But in a talent crisis and with a disproportionate percentage of the workforce approaching retirement, insurers must play roles. So why not invest in young talent? Train them. Mentor them. Build career paths suitable for high school graduates. And do not make higher education (and the debt that comes with it) a prerequisite for a career in insurance, because the cost of education is a barrier that a large part of young and talented people will never be able to overcome.

The cost barrier also applies to things like obtaining licenses and industry designations. If insurance companies can help their employees through these processes, they are more likely to retain young talent, which is essential for the longevity of the workforce.

Read more: Avoiding the “awakened” identity policy in insurance hiring practices

Finally, there is this general need to accept the “new normal”. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused such a big change in people’s priorities. Many people have lost loved ones or know families who have been affected by the virus, and this has led people to abandon the “work is everything” routine and put family (and themselves) first.

With regard to family, employees want flexible and hybrid work arrangements where they do not have to travel to the office five days a week, which potentially gives them more time to spend with family and friends. And when it comes to putting yourself first, the pandemic has definitely made people think differently about their mental and physical well-being. Insurance companies that want to attract and retain the best talent must take this into account in their benefits and employee services.

These are just some of the major barriers to entry in the insurance industry, and there are others that have and will continue to repel talent. In this major post-pandemic paradigm shift, insurers need to focus on removing these barriers if they are to set the industry in the future.

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