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The challenge presented by these vacancies is clear to any business looking to attract new talent but there’s strength too in entering a recessionary period armed with a low unemployment rate. For insurance businesses, in particular, the talent crunch facing firms of every size does not have to ring too many alarm bells if they are proactive in addressing the concern and flexible about the approach required to bridge this gap.

In a recent interview with Insurance Business, Freedom Services group’s Chantel Emilius shared some of the secrets behind the group’s impressive talent attraction and retention figures. At the core of its recent success is taking a human approach to developing your culture and engagement, she said, and having faith in your people. Having trust in its people is what has allowed the insurance business to roll out advanced sick leave policies, a completely flexible remote working initiative and, most recently, a four-day working week.

Of course, what works for one business may not necessarily be right for another but the underlying principle behind the work Emilius and her team rolled out is a valuable lesson to business leaders – well-placed empowerment will pay back dividends.

Fail fast, learn faster has long been an underlying tenet of innovation and it’s time that companies embraced a change management approach to the question of talent. All across the insurance chain, firms are implementing new digital-first practices and incorporating data-driven modelling to leverage new opportunities. Post-COVID, in particular, increased innovation has become a must-have even among businesses traditionally resistant to change.

Yet, for many, there’s still a certain reticence about evolving the way people work alongside the changes happening around the work they actually do. Change is happening certainly, the move to hybrid working models by so many insurance companies is alone proof of that. But the time is right for insurance businesses to move faster and take every action necessary to future-proof their talent pipelines.

Forward-thinking policies, structures and programmes will go a long way to retaining talent and, as seen from Freedom Services’ experience, have a significant part to play in talent attraction as well. But they’re only one part of the solution and the other major element is rejuvenating the overall external perspective of what a career in insurance entails.

Even from my own conversations, I know that there remains formidably little understanding of what insurance is, does and can do. And until insurance businesses do everything in their power to change that perspective, I can’t see that changing. The work of associations like Airmic and the CII has been integral in moving the dial to where it is today, but they need the support of the broader sector if they’re to continue that evolution.

Airmic’s ERM forum saw speakers from the railway, nuclear and construction sectors all coming together to discuss the critical role that insurance and risk management play in the operational success of their respective industries. The message is clear – insurance touches everything. And if insurance was to truly adopt that messaging as standard, you’d soon see it among the industries least likely to have trouble attracting great talent.

The chance to change how insurance is seen is in the hands of everyone who works in the sector. So, have genuine pride in what you do and take every opportunity presented to talk about it. By doing so, the insurance profession has the chance to lead discussions around talent retention and attraction rather than finding itself listening in to these conversations, hoping to pick up hints and tips.

There’s no time like the present to get started. Because, with over one million vacancies and with the UK employment rate standing at 75.5%, insurance firms are no longer competing with just their own market peers or the financial services sector more widely – the playing field has been blown wide open.


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