2021, what a year! Post-Brexit labour shortages and a post-Covid reopening world resulted in many industries seeing a record number of new vacancies and further adaptations to the new way of working and hiring. Fortunately, the insurance sector wasn’t as affected by covid-related job losses or the subsequent ‘ Great Resignation’ as other sectors, with many insurance companies being able to retain most or all of their staff. However, the way we work and recruit has drastically changed the industry like many others; so what talent and hiring trends will we witness rolling into 2022 and what new trends are likely to emerge?
1. Insurtech 2.0.
According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, Property & Casualty Insurance, multi-line insurance, and Life & Health insurance were recorded as 3 of the top 5 industries least impacted during the pandemic. This was partly due to the industry’s ability to adapt quickly to a remote environment and the industry’s acceleration in the adoption of technology. Whilst insurtech has been a priority in the market for quite some time, the impact of covid saw it jump to the top of the priority list for the industry. This forced many businesses to update legacy systems, simplify cross-platform operations and upgrade technology to produce more accessible accurate data. As a result, the second half of 2021 saw a spike in demand for resources within the change and transformation space, particularly Business Analysis, and those with advanced data and technology skills. IT is again listed at no. 2 in Forbes’ top 5 Growing Career Fields in 2022, and the majority of our insurance clients have indicated that they expect to recruit multiple business analysts in 2022, either through natural attrition or increased headcount.
As future-facing insurance businesses continue to explore automation and AI technologies, this demand will likely continue in the industry throughout the year, seeing a rise in remuneration and competition.
2. A shift in employee priorities.
2020/2021 drove company culture to the forefront of candidates’ job choices. Flexibility, support, compassion, impact, adaptability, and mental and physical wellbeing have become top priorities in a candidate-driven market. Insurers and recruiters will have to reinvent employee experience, adjusting it to the new realm.
According to a poll on Reed in Q4 of 2021, the top 3 pull factors for moving jobs are:
a. A higher salary (41%)
b. Flexible hours (33%)
c. Perks/benefits (31%)
After a very active market in 2021, pay vs benefits continues to be a huge topic of conversation with insurance clients when attracting/retaining talent. Pay scales are often structured with a link to a worker’s geographic location to reflect factors such as the cost of living. For many years ambitious workers have flocked to the City of London to be in the heart of the insurance market, a location that includes London weighting. But if the workforce becomes more agile, should businesses maintain a remuneration structure based on geographic location? This will need to be considered for London Market insurers specifically in 2022 when hiring. While the demand for remote work grew in 2021, salary expectations remained the same for many, especially in the technology market. This could present new challenges when hiring and remaining competitive.
b. Remote working and flexible schedules.
2020 forced the workforce online, and 2021 adopted the new hybrid phenomenon. Pre Christmas statistics from HR DataHub showed that 70% of companies promote flexible working practices to attract new talent. The new remote setting has meant inventing new ways of keeping workers connected and engaged, allowing for better work/life balance and ensuring that employees receive the same level of support and progression as they would by being present in an office. The difficulty with remote working and flexible schedules is that every individual is different, but it needs to be an option within businesses to rival the market. To operate this effectively, businesses will need to be adaptable.
c. Creative Perks/Benefits.
Companies and benefits packages are being adjusted to be more attractive to the modern worker. The pandemic caused a shift in how employees perceive benefits. As well as the generic benefits and ‘office-based’ perks that companies offer, employees nowadays are looking for more substantive benefits. These include improved health and wellbeing, financial wellness assistance, shared parental leave and other benefits that support a wider variety of critical life events on a personal level.
3. Employer branding.
Employers are starting to see the importance of maintaining or improving their brand image. To boost talent acquisition and retention, insurers need to refine their brand identity and the brand experience to align with these priorities. Like with customers, future applicants will want to associate themselves with a business respected in their industry, not just for what they do, but for how much of a positive impact they are making.
Employees want brands to care about issues and stand for more than just turning a profit. For example, new company initiatives like Environmental, Social & Governance groups were among the popular employee branding strategies in 2021, set up to eliminate or reduce the environmental costs of doing business and improving sustainability. This year, we’ll likely see a trend in similar initiatives to highlight organisations’ meaningful purpose and authenticity outside of business operations, representing their promise of transformation or striving for something better.
4. Essential workforce planning.
The middle-level talent gap has been an issue for the better part of a decade in the insurance industry. While this isn’t a new priority on the agenda, the pandemic has forced the industry to expand its scope in hiring and upskilling. The heavily candidate-driven market of 2021 was a catalyst of change to how the industry is approaching its searches for the best talent.
Government induced lockdowns resulted in changes in interview and recruitment processes. With the implementation of digital tools, the process for most became more optimised and efficient, and thanks to new flexible working strategies, some talent pools have expanded. However, it remains increasingly hard to find available and skilled individuals, so recruiters have started to look beyond the limitations of their industry and location to find talented candidates and are challenging requirements now more than ever before. This has shifted from experience-based hiring to hiring based on transferable skills. As a result, the latter part of 2021 also saw a huge focus on retaining current top talent and upskilling employees instead of just exploring the market to find new sources. I expect this initiative to continue to grow to be a primary talent trend for insurance in 2022.
5. Diversity, equity, and inclusion.
While not a new trend to emerge in 2022, DE&I will continue to be a hot topic this year, tackling systemic inequalities/discrimination.
With many companies pursuing major transformations that include digitalisation and automation skills that the current workforce may not possess, the D&I requires constant review. According to a quote on BBC Future, women and people of colour may be those most affected by automation changes, as “male employees make up 90% of the technology industry and 70% of those at some of the biggest and most influential companies are white”. To ensure the DE&I agenda improves, insurers will need to continue to focus on upskilling their workforce, enhancing transferrable skills and ensuring that all diversity factors are represented during their hiring processes
In summary, to attract qualified talent in 2022, insurers will need to be more adaptable to skills while emphasising their organisation’s modern digital capabilities, flexible work environment and other additional benefits that the business provides.
This year, a main focus for businesses will be how they plan to operate their businesses and identify a way that works for (almost) everyone while keeping all happy, connected, and engaged in relationships; something that the insurance industry has heavily built its foundations on. A large amount of insurers success will depend on two major factors in 2022; how effectively they manage their investments in emerging technologies and how effectively they manage their investments in people.