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Recruiting and retaining great staff – what does it take?

Recruiting and retaining great staff – what does it take? | Insurance Business UK

Recruiting and retaining great staff – what does it take?

Long before rumours and whispers of “the Great Resignation”, then later “the Great Reshuffle”, reached the ears of the industry, the war for talent in insurance was a widely acknowledged phenomenon.

This talent crunch has always been around to some extent, noted Graham Stait (pictured), head of claims operations at Allianz Insurance in discussion with Insurance Business UK about what it takes to attract and retain great claims staff. However, he added, there’s little doubt that the current environment has significantly amplified discussions around talent.

Read more: Allianz Claims announces two key promotions

“The workforce and its opportunities are no longer limited by geography,” he said. “The fact that a lot more organisations, such as ourselves, are offering hybrid working is great from an attraction point of view. It also means that a lot more people now have access to other jobs, which is a good thing and something that should be welcomed.

“So, we are seeing more volatility in terms of people considering opportunities. I think post-COVID as well, it has been well documented that people reassessed their careers, their professions. And we’ve certainly seen people who have decided, quite rightfully, to actually go and follow different passions completely outside of the industry - some into really different professions entirely as a consequence, and again, that’s to be supported.”

From Allianz Insurance’s perspective, he said, this has been seized as an opportunity to open up the horizons of where new talent can come from. The firm’s flexible working policy allows it to access skillsets and talent from further afield than has historically been the case where this was also a geographical consideration. With regards to talent attrition in the wake of COVID, he highlighted that he has seen this stabilise in recent months.

That period of people reconsidering what they want to do is a clear sign to the insurance market that the time is right to better articulate the value proposition of the industry, he said. Insurance collectively needs to get better at having those conversations in order to attract and retain the levels of skills and talent required to thrive.

As head of claims operations, Stait heads up a team of about 550 claims staff across three key claims sites in Birmingham, Milton Keynes and Trivandrum, India. Though it’s a role that keeps him busy, he said, it’s good fun and he’s proud to work alongside a committed team. And as somebody who started his insurance career with Allianz 14 years ago via a graduate programme, he has seen for himself what constitutes a great proposition equipped to draw in fresh talent.

“Since I joined one of our graduate programmes, I’ve moved around lots of different opportunities,” he said. “So when I speak passionately about Allianz, it’s on the basis that I’ve lived a lot of these experiences. I think, first and foremost, what sets our value proposition apart is that we’re a global organisation. And with that comes real opportunity, both cross-functionally and [geographically].

“We have a fantastic number of people on international assignments or secondment elsewhere, as well as internal movements. So, we offer opportunity, which is a key part of our value proposition. We’re also very committed to supporting [our team’s] personal and professional development. We have an array of internal talent development and skills development programmes across our business.”

These programmes, he said, span from foundational entry-level learning and development opportunities right the way through to more specialised areas. As the claims landscape has evolved over the last few years, so too have the skills required from a claims workforce and it is with this in mind that Allianz is increasingly offering skills and support packages that better support the forward trajectory of its claims talent.

From data and analytics, to digitalisation, to robotics and automation – these types of skills simply didn’t exist in the market in the same way back when he started, Stait said, and neither did the roles that go alongside them. So, now Allianz is actively investing in the future of its people by offering them opportunities to develop those skills through support packages which are resonating well both within existing teams and across the external market.

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“Obviously, pay and benefits is important as well,” he said. “We continuously look at our offering to ensure it remains competitive, which it remains so. In fact, in quarter four, we’ll be increasing salaries again, and we’ve revisited our benefits packages.

“That’s on top of a salary increase that we gave across the organisation in Q2 of this year. And it is in recognition of the cost-of-living crisis, [and the] pressure it’s putting on our people. But it’s also in recognition of the fact we’ve got really good people doing a really good job, and it’s only right and proper that we remunerate accordingly.”

Whether it’s the option for unfettered opportunities, the chance for meaningful professional development or a matter of being remunerated fairly, many of the same qualities necessary to attract great talent are also critical in creating an environment that encourages them to stay.

Allianz’s strong track record of supporting both professional and personal development plays an essential role in its retention figures, Stait said, and he believes the insurer’s heavy investments in its people are a crucial part of its USP. So, while the wider market has seen a higher number of people leaving insurance over the last 18 months or so, he can see the opportunities this is creating in terms of opening up vacancies as internal promotion prospects.

“I think, again, that speaks to that part of our own value proposition and the fact that there are numerous career paths that people can follow and develop at Allianz,” he said. “And that has been reflected in the number of appointments that we’re making internally as well.”