Giving the aging workforce one last shot

“People at 60 … have a lot of wisdom and knowledge and they should not be put out to pasture”

Giving the aging workforce one last shot

Insurance News

By Sam Boyer

With all the talk of Millennials being the future of the industry, the older generation might be being forgotten in some corners. But the insurance industry is facing an employment challenge – not just the difficulty attracting young employees, but we’re also losing a generation of knowledge as Baby Boomers retire.

But one recruitment agency is trying to block the leak in the Boomer brain drain. WAHVE [Work At Home Vintage Experts] is promoting not retirement, but “pretirement”.

WAHVE founder, president and CEO Sharon Emek told Insurance Business what it means to keep older expertise in the industry, by placing underwriters, account managers, and brokers in insurance firms across the country, while working from home.

“Many people are leaving the insurance workforce not because they don’t want to work, they’re leaving because they don’t want to work in an office anymore, or they can’t work in an office any longer … or they’re tired of driving two hours each way to work each day for the past 30 years,” she said.

“We have to recognize that life has been extended – when you’re 60 now, it’s not like it was 30 years ago. Today, people at 60 are energetic, they work out and do yoga, they’re smart, technologically savvy. They have a lot of wisdom and knowledge and they should not be put out to pasture. The industry needs to find creative ways to keep that talent.”

WAHVE has been placing “pretirement” talent for about eight years, and currently has about 400 workers in job placements, plus thousands of others on the books. The company only places workers with specialized insurance knowledge into positions, Emek said. The average age of the talent they place is 60.

“These are the people who did the work in the office, the knowledge workers across the insurance industry,” she said. “They could be underwriters, they could be accounting executives … they want to keep doing what they do best.

“The biggest demand we have is for commercial lines account managers and CSRs [customer service representatives].”

Ultimately, Emek said, the agency’s model is a win-win for the industry: it keeps insurance lifers in the career they love, and it keeps expertise and experience on the books.

Many employers are tired of employing impulsive Millennials, so the option of hiring an experienced hand gives another option.

“WAHVE gives them the opportunity to continue to do what they love, from home, and they can have that flexibility part time or full time. You can work from anywhere today,” Emek said.

“And it keeps that institutional knowledge in the industry, which the industry so desperately needs.”

Related stories:
Retirement? Never, say insurance agents
One in four insurance agents will be gone by 2018

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