leading changeIt’s never been more difficult to hire and keep talent. Yet hiring and keeping top-notch underwriters and claims professionals is mandatory for insurance carriers who wish to differentiate themselves through ease of business.

Agents—particularly those who specialize in commercial insurance—tell us that ease of a carrier’s underwriting and claims handling strongly impacts their placement decisions. In fact, the larger and more complex the commercial account, the more important underwriting flexibility becomes to the agent. Again, to provide profitable flexibility to agents, carriers must attract and keep skilled underwriters.

Here is a representative comment from an agent expressing the importance of talented underwriters.

“Having dedicated underwriters that we can build relationships with is vital. It helps in all areas of doing business with a customer. Being able to have a conversation with someone about a risk instead of a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no it is in our appetite’ goes a long way in placing business with carriers.”

Some call the talent churn we are currently going through “the great resignation.” Think of your friends, relatives, and colleagues who have recently made career changes or have expressed the desire for a change. What is driving their desire?

Many say they want to seize the opportunity for greater pay. In some instances, this may indeed be their true motivation. However, for well-paid professionals such as underwriters, is money really the sole motivation for most resignations?

It’s Not Just Money

In all but the worst of economic times, it has been my experience that talented insurance professionals can almost always find carriers willing to pay them more. Therefore, if it’s really all about “show me the money,” we would all just change jobs every couple of years. However, most of us don’t.

Something deeper and more complicated is motivating all this change. Something else is causing people pain to the point that an unusual number of us are willing to leave positions that were comfortable enough to hold us in the past.

CHANGE is something we HATE. Change involves risk of loss, and we humans will go to great lengths to avoid a feeling of loss. (Hence the reason people buy our insurance contracts.) Therefore, many of the people resigning must feel that they are not losing much by leaving their current job.

When we are good at a job, resigning means enduring substantial change. It involves choosing a new place where we must prove ourselves all over again, learning new ways of doing things, and developing all new relationships. It involves leaving a familiar environment where we feel included, have a sense of belonging, and share a feeling of common purpose. We are choosing to leave a place where we feel competent. A place where we are empowered and valued.

Why would we leave such a good situation?

Look to Management

Maybe individuals are now realizing that their current position doesn’t offer what they truly need to be happy and fulfilled in their work.

More specifically, it might well be that we, as leaders, have not done enough to attract and keep talent. Perhaps we need to do more to:

  • foster a positive environment of inclusion and belonging
  • inspire a vision that ties the team together for a common purpose
  • advance team members’ skills and opportunities for growth
  • empower and encourage the people we are leading

If we’re serious about retaining the talent that differentiates us from competitive carriers, we need to step up and embrace the new management standards that top performers desire.

Key Take Away

Agents value talented underwriters. To be successful, carriers must attract and retain talented underwriters. Carriers with strong leaders who know how to nurture a sense of purpose, teamwork, and career growth will earn the loyalty of both talented underwriters and their agent network.