Why hiring slowdowns shouldn’t touch brokerages

New report reveals top insurance employment trends

Why hiring slowdowns shouldn’t touch brokerages

Insurance News

By Gia Snape

Demand for skilled professionals in insurance remains high across Canada, despite hiring slowdowns in other sectors, and brokerages and insurance companies are having to go to great lengths to attract top talent, according to a new report.

Impact Recruitment’s 2023 insurance salary guide lists key hiring trends and forecasts in the industry, pooled from the firm’s knowledge speaking to candidates and hiring managers.

“Insurance remains a candidate driven market,” said Mark Fenwick (pictured), senior VP of corporate and professional services at Impact, a multi-disciplinary recruitment firm headquartered in Vancouver.

“There is a shortage of qualified professionals relative to the available vacancy rate, so the edge still lies with the candidates, giving them a bit more bargaining power.”

The report found that one in four insurance candidates consider flexible work arrangements the most important consideration, aside from salary, when joining a new employer.

“We've seen people put out demands in relation to what they will be paid relative to their work environment,” Fenwick said.

“For example, someone named a base salary ask for in-office base, a separate base salary ask for a hybrid arrangement, and a reduced amount for a completely at home arrangement.

“Three years ago, this would have been impossible.”

What are the top insurance hiring trends across Canada?

It might come as no surprise that flexible or remote work ranks at the top of candidates’ wish lists.

Some brokerages are finding ways to be more creative with their work arrangements to accommodate this demand, such as offering “work from anywhere” policies or trialling four-day work weeks, the Impact report indicated.

As some brokerages that blaze ahead by upgrading their IT capabilities to support remote work, others that remain heavily paper-based could start to significantly lag in their hiring. Firms that are slower to digitizer are likely to find it increasingly hard to attract and retain talent.

Many brokers are also having to rethink their overall compensation packages as salary expectations trend higher compared to previous years, according to the Impact report. This could mean offering signing bonuses or additional perks when the budget doesn’t meet the preferred candidates’ ask.

Smaller brokers or those in remote areas will also find this hiring market especially challenging, mainly because they can’t afford not to hire if they have a gap, while larger brokers can reshuffle their head count to pick up the slack.

“If you're in the smaller or mid-market space, you don’t have the same luxury of head count,” Fenwick said. “If you’re a twenty-person organization and you have a space to fill because of workload, the help isn’t coming internally to ease that.”

What should brokers expect from the hiring market?

Amid a competitive market, employers should focus on building their unique value proposition and distinguishing themselves to candidates, the Impact report noted.

Highlighting their organization’s growth prospects and communicating noteworthy accomplishments throughout the recruitment process can help close the deal for prospective talent. Fenwick advised hiring managers to put their best deal upfront.

“Anyone that you make an offer to will likely receive other offers, so you need to put your best foot forward to begin with,” he said.

“You might not have luxury of going in with a mid-level offer and hoping it goes through a negotiation process.”

Fenwick also encouraged employers to dig deep into the motivations for every individual to join an organization and customize compensation packages where possible.

“Do they want a hybrid or flexible working arrangement? If you’re able to offer that, it’s huge, and if you’re not, try to sell on the career development opportunities that you can provide,” he said.

Finally, don’t expect the tables to turn on candidates for now, Fenwick cautioned.

“There are number of industries, such as legal or accounting, that were on par with insurance 12 months ago, in terms of the power sitting with the candidate,” he said.

“Those industries have already started shifting while insurance hasn’t. We’re still seeing the same pattern of people are getting multiple offers and counter offers, and it’s really the candidate’s choice.

“So, if you take the tack that it would be the person’s privilege to work for you, you’re not giving yourself the best chance of getting them to come on board.”

What should insurance companies do to attract and recruit the best talent? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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