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Winning the talent war
Insurance companies in the United States are striving to attract and retain members of the 2.83 million strong industry workforce, which based on government projections is due to increase during 2022. Over the past year, nearly 80% of agency owners and principals have made changes to employee offerings, according to a recent report from Vertafore.
Further governmental statistics show a major focus on total compensation, which from Q3 2021 to Q2 2022 jumped 2.6% to 5.4%, with the wages and salaries component of that rising from 3% to 4.8% (figures are based on a 12-month percentage change).
To understand which companies are making smart moves, Insurance Business America polled the employees of self-nominated insurance companies on categories such as benefits, culture, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). Companies that achieved an 80% or greater average satisfaction rating across all the categories were recognized as Top Insurance Employers in 2022.
“As we return to the office, we find ourselves more flexible when managing employee work-life expectations. We now offer hybrid and remote employment opportunities to current employees and future candidates”
Jenny Lopez-Rogina, Specialty Comp Insurance Solutions
Uncertain times ahead
IBA asked three of the Top Insurance Employers this year to share their views on the challenges they face in the HR environment.
Jenny Lopez-Rogina, AVP and director of operations at Specialty Comp Insurance Solutions (SCIS), explained the past two years have shown how effective operating remotely can be. “As we return to the office, we find ourselves more flexible when managing employee work-life expectations,” she says. “We now offer hybrid and remote employment opportunities to current employees and future candidates.”
Direct Connection Advertising & Marketing founder and CEO Anita Nevins casts a more critical eye. Her view is the insurance labor market has been a material issue for their clients in recent years. “It is usually their number one problem – finding and retaining ‘good’ people,” says Nevins. “And now with the added layer of COVID, it has become even more difficult. So many people, it seems, decided to become self-employed with the hopes they would work less and earn more. I’m afraid there will be a rude awakening. This could mean we see more people ‘coming back’ once they have tried to make a go of self-employment, but it’s hard to speculate how long that will take.”
Meanwhile, Daren D’Ippolito, president and CEO of Provident Insurance Programs, has a balanced perspective. “The past two years have opened more opportunities for people to change positions and employers since remote work has become somewhat of the industry norm,” he says. “The same holds true for employers in that the talent pool has expanded with geographic boundaries eliminated. In spite of people’s desire to work remotely and have greater flexibility, I believe they still want an opportunity to gather and collaborate with their colleagues. However, that will be different than what it once was.”
“Gen Z and millennials are looking for more in a company than just salary”
Anita Nevins, Direct Connection Advertising & Marketing
Insurance companies have to balance the needs of four different working demographics: Gen Z, born after 1997; Millennials, the under 40s; Gen X, the group born between 1965 and 1980; and Baby Boomers, their older employees.
Raised on technology, Gen Z is tech-savvy and highly entrepreneurial and prone to short attention spans, according to Lopez-Rogina, while millennials are considerably idealistic and need to feel they are working for a noble cause.
“Gen Z and millennials are looking for more in a company than just salary,” says Nevins. “Gen Z is motivated by flexibility and interested in the lifestyle and benefits a company can offer, rather than purely the salary or considering their longer-term career. Millennials are more focused on purpose. They seek specific company cultures that care for their people as individuals and are actively working to make the world better.”
Then, there are the older groups. “Gen X are autonomous, reliable, and family oriented,” says Lopez-Rogina. “Providing work-life balance would be key. Baby Boomers have a solid work ethic and want job security and health benefits. Most Boomers are practical. They prefer face-to-face meetings and social interactions as part of doing business.”
As Nevins sees it, Gen X and Baby Boomers consider their personal lives and work lives as separate, and they have been drawn to the insurance industry as it offers a long-term career with opportunities for promotion.
D’Ippolito feels there are common fundamentals that all employees have regardless of their age.“ A company whose mission they believe in, an employer that appreciates them as individuals, compensation and benefits that are meaningful to them, a company that has a dynamic culture, and flexibility in the way they work.”
“We seek to foster a mission-oriented culture where we work hard, have fun, are playful, and empower each colleague to do her or his job to the best of their ability”
Daren D’Ippolito, Provident Insurance Solutions
Including everyone matters
DE&I initiatives are a vital part of the workplace, but what kinds of offerings do our winners have?
SCIS has a DE&I resources page on their extranet, allowing employees to engage in everything from a bi-weekly manager learning series, to women’s and Black inclusion networks and other identity-based group events.
At Direct Connection, Nevins has a small team that started with herself and gradually attracted women who shared her vision. “We do now have a male executive. As we have grown and solidified our core values, we have ensured that there are components of DE&I in each team,” she says. “Our team, for the most part, is made up of millennials and Gen Z. We speak to them as individuals, show them we care about them and their work-life balance by offering flexible hours, work from home – some have relocated to other states, and we have kept them.”
D’Ippolito says Provident continues to grow and is looking to expand its recruiting network to access a broader candidate pool. They also actively support schools and organizations that seek to provide equitable opportunities for underprivileged students and individuals at the local, national, and international scales.
Creating their DNA
Companies are proactively trying to differentiate themselves from the competition to attract and retain in-demand staff members. So how do they go about it?
“We are employee-focused and strive to continuously provide a safe and trusted environment for all,” says Lopez-Rogina of SCIS. “We provide a conflict-free work environment with a high level of trust where our team works in tandem toward one common goal – our organization’s growth and success. Our organization is very efficient. Communication flows freely and decision making is swift.”
Direct Connection is focused primarily on its core values of balance, contribution, growth, integrity, respect, and teamwork. Nevins explains, “These are the foundations of our hiring and onboarding process and thus impact the way our team shows up and works together every day. We also concentrate on our company motto: We are passionate about helping our clients. We are proactive and strive to provide more value than our clients expect. We are energetic and committed to being people our clients love to talk to and work with.”
As for Provident, D’Ippolito adds, “We seek to foster a mission-oriented culture where we work hard, have fun, are playful, and empower each colleague to do her or his job to the best of their ability. We want each colleague to be able to flourish, and part of how we support that is by paying for their health and dental insurance and by contributing to their 401(k) plans without requiring an employee match. We also regularly host company social events to foster comradery and fellowship.”
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