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5 Reasons Why Insurance Companies Need to Invest in Early Talent Programs

Written by Anna George on December 16, 2022
5 min read

Insurance job openings have grown exponentially over the last 13 years. From July 2021 to July 2022, nearly a fifth of insurance employers surveyed by Jacobson Group and Ward increased employees by over 10%, and most insurance companies are still planning to increase staff in the next 12 months. To come out on top in this competitive job market, insurance companies need to invest in early talent programs.

The state of the insurance industry job market

Nearly half of insurance companies feel their ability to hire is worse than last year, and overall recruiting difficulty in the industry is at its highest point. The “war for talent” is cutthroat, with technical, actuarial, and analytics roles the hardest to fill. Insurance companies are not only competing with each other for talent, but also with other industries that appear more cutting edge and enticing.

The industry also faces large gaps in workforce diversity, especially in senior positions. Only 8% of senior and executive management are racially and ethnically diverse professionals, and just 3% of executives reporting to CEOs are racially and ethnically diverse women. Insurance companies that double down on and grow their early talent programs will prove most successful in reaching and retaining top talent and building diverse pipelines.

Why are early talent programs important for insurance companies?

“We have a long-term view on employment—invest in hiring fresh out of college talent and train them on the job so that they can grow within the organization.” ­— Jana Fallon, VP staffing and executive assessment, Prudential Japan

1) Grow the talent you need

The best way to ensure you have the talent with the skills you need is to grow your own talent in-house through development programs such as internships. Internships are a trial period for both early talent and the company, providing the opportunity to see an applicant in action beyond the interview process. You can also use these programs to teach and cultivate the exact skills you’re looking for and prepare your early talent for a potential future with your company.

Tech is the greatest hiring need in the insurance industry right now, and also one of the most competitive. Of the tech roles being added in the next 12 months, 90% are expected to be experienced roles. Internship programs provide the opportunity to advance this talent yourself, rather than having to compete for experienced tech hires with other insurance companies and industries.

2) Boost employee retention rates

Did you know that internal interns have a retention rate of nearly 70%? In comparison, external interns have a retention rate of 50%, and those without internship experience only have a 35% retention rate. At both the one-year and five-year marks, hires who worked as internal interns are less likely to churn than external interns and hires with no internship experience. Apprentices also have higher retention rates. Between 70 to 80% of apprentices finish their programs, and 90% of those stay with the same company for at least five years. During the internship or apprenticeship trial period, employers and early talent have the opportunity to align in values, missions, and culture. It is an important time to build company affinity.

Other early talent programs, like rotational programs, also encourage retention by allowing early talent to discover and pursue roles that are a better fit for their long-term goals. No matter what programs you implement, it is important to incorporate resources such as mentorships or upskilling workshops to show that you are passionate about your early talent’s career growth and long-term success with your company.

3) Increase diversity throughout the company

Early talent programs are the secret sauce to diversifying your talent pipeline. They provide opportunities to deliberately source candidates from diverse demographics to meet your desired representation ratios.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when evaluating the DEI of your recruiting process:

  • Are you recruiting from the same sources? Expand your geographical reach, visit different universities, and find new programs and schools to recruit your talent.
  • Do you make hiring decisions based on educational background or professional experience? Not everyone has access to the same opportunities in education or the workforce, so make sure you are considering all experiences.
  • Is there diversity in your recruitment team? Candidates want to feel seen and accepted during the hiring process. Introduce them to a variety of team members.

4) Upskill your managers and existing employees

One of the most efficient ways to support early talent is through mentorship programs that pair them with full-time employees who can guide and advocate for them. This mutually beneficial relationship can be a great way to level up your current employees, especially those in managerial positions. Guiding an intern will allow these mentors and managers to grow their teaching skills, improve feedback processes, and develop new perspectives.

5) Build brand awareness among the future leaders of the workforce

In the next decade, Gen Z will make up over 30% of the workforce. Early talent programs are crucial for building brand awareness among them.

With the rise in social media over the last decade, the power of word of mouth has expanded its reach. Gen Zers typically have a strong presence on social media, and depending on the size of their following, sharing a positive internship experience at your company can spread brand awareness nationally and internationally. Alternatively, a bad experience, such as poor programming, program cancellation, or rescinding offers, can negatively affect your brand image and ability to recruit early talent.

Having an early talent program can also help your organization keep up with current trends and interests. Gather student insights and leverage them to stay relevant and gain a new perspective in the industry. These insights can also help your program develop and attract future talent because of your brand relevance.

How successful early talent programs helped insurance companies build stronger talent pipelines

Erie Insurance

“Our commitment to celebrating and valuing diversity continues, and our internship program is an extension of that,” said Jon O’Camb, talent acquisition manager at Erie. “We’re widening our talent pipeline.”

Erie Insurance’s Future Focus internship program was recently named one of the insurance industry’s top 50 best internship programs by RISE for the second year in a row. Erie leverages their internship program as a diversity pipeline. One way they’ve been able to build a diverse pipeline is through strengthening their relationships with HBCUs. They also encourage their interns to participate in their employee affinity networks and connect with Erie’s community outreach and DEI teams.

SECURA Insurance

“We encourage our interns to live our values and to be real, earn it, and have fun," said Lindsey Coons, SECURA HR Specialist, "Through meaningful work, collaborative interactions, and impactful networking opportunities, we aim to set our internship experience apart from others.”

SECURA Insurance’s early talent program was also named one of the top 50 best insurance internship programs, notably for offering flexible hours, social gatherings, and lots of educational opportunities for interns to grow their skills and prepare for their future. 98% of SECURA interns said they would stay at the company for a full-time position after graduation. By showing a genuine interest in the professional and personal growth of their interns, SECURA has been able to convert and retain their interns at a high rate.

What can you do?

"Pivot from having laid the foundation for operational transformation—such as transitioning to the cloud—to fully realizing the value and benefits of infrastructure and technological upgrades." - Deloitte 2023 Insurance Outlook

Insurance companies can stand out to the next generation of the workforce by modernizing their internship programs with a solution like Symba. The platform will enable you to track and measure DEI metrics, provide a library of resources for upskilling, connect managers with interns, and more. Book a demo today to take your early talent program to the next level.

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Anna George

Anna George is a Digital Marketing Intern at Symba. Previously, Anna has worked as a Communications Intern for a nonprofit organization. She graduated with her BAJMC in Advertising and Minor in Sociology at Drake University. Outside of work, you will find her out and about searching for unique small businesses in her area or playing with her dog!

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