The War for Talent - How to Engage and Retain
By Marti Daniels, VP Business Development - Midwest Region, Insurance Technology Services

I had the pleasure of attending IASA’s recent webinar on “The War for Talent- How to Engage and Retain” led by Cathy Ellwood, Founder and CEO of Ellwood Enterprises which  was very engaging and featured the following take aways that I thought were helpful to share given their relevance and necessity to our industry at large.

Employee retention matters.  There are direct costs related to both retaining employees as well as finding a replacement for ones who have left.  It is predicted that companies spend a range of 20% to 200% or more of an employee’s salary on direct costs to recruit employees. Unfortunately the demographics of our workforce indicate that this will not improve as 25% of the insurance industry workforce is slated to retire by the year 2018 (approximately 400,000 employees), therefore our industry will be faced with a huge deficit, considering the annual average salary in our industry is $75,000/year.  It is estimated that the industry will spend $6 billion to replace its retiring workforce.   There will be  higher costs associated with the loss of intellectual capital (those in senior leadership positions). Additionally, Millennials currently comprise 25% of the US workforce today (expected to grow to 75% globally in the year 2025), however, the Insurance industry is behind in effectively recruiting millennials.  All of these factors make it critical for insurance companies to manage retention and take the time to understand why employees chose to stay or leave their company.

The top 10 reasons people leave  a Company are:
1. Bad Boss
2. Lack of challenging work / bored
3. Lack of promotional opportunities
4. Lack of communication – the reason you communicate may be more important than the communication itself, especially if it’s bad news
5. Limited opportunity to use skills
6. Micromanaged – no autonomy – the negative impact here can be significant, people want to be appreciated and respected.
7. No purpose or meaning in their work – when people don’t understand what they do supports the bigger picture/cause
8. Company financial outlook – is their company investing in innovation & technology
9. Cultural Fit – how people work together to achieve goals
10. Not feeling valued or appreciated – 70 % of employees feel they receive no praise or recognition

Possible Warning Signs people are about to quit are:
Productivity decreases
Less of a team player
Less enthusiastic
Less willing to commit to bigger projects
Express negativity more often
Seem less focus on job related items
Express dissatisfaction with Supervisor
Leave early from Work

It is interesting that 89% of Managers believe that people leave their job because of compensation, but in reality, 88% of people leave their job for other reasons. Things some companies can do to maintain or improve retention are to:
Spend money on a big extravagant trip/event to celebrate every employee in the organization.
Give a lot of autonomy and freedom.  Don’t mandate reporting time off and allow employees to nominate themselves for a raise or promotion.
Monthly, celebrate employee success with a champagne toast in front of their peers.
Offer internal advancement opportunities– open for anyone to apply.
Be “hip”, offer cool benefits, appeal to millennials, leverage new technology.
If you really want to improve your retention…access the real reason people leave and do something about it (don’t leave it hanging).  Treat it like a project…”Plan the work, work the plan”.
The War for Talent- How to Engage and Retain- webinar is archived and available for viewing on the IASA website at