Experts agree there is a talent gap in the risk and insurance industry, as some reports identify a loss of around 400,000 workers by 2026.

The impending departure of almost a half million workers means more than empty desks and short-staffed insurers. The institutional knowledge lost when these workers leave their posts could have major downstream impacts on compliance, customer service and strategy. 

While the insurance industry faces this exodus of talent, it also must manage a unique workforce challenge: The types of jobs the industry requires are shifting to more technology-focused positions, with IT teams within carriers hiring developers, coders, and programmers — along with business analysts and technical writers to translate IT requirements for business teams. 

People are approaching work and their careers differently, and this is also changing the way the talent gap affects the industry.

Employees are more willing to switch employers to keep remote work arrangements or for better benefits. Freelancing and contract work are more popular options, taking a seat at the table with the more traditional full-time roles. Some workers are choosing to leave their salaried roles only to return as contractors with more flexibility and options. 

And even while the talent gap looms large over the risk and insurance industry, several efforts have been made to increase the talent joining the field.

About 60 universities and colleges in the US offer RMI programs and Gamma Iota Sigma, the international professional fraternity for students interested in careers in insurance, risk management, and actuarial science has over 5000 members. These efforts, and many others, are helping solve the talent gap problem but there is still a long way to go. 

To better inform the industry’s efforts at closing the talent gap, a recent survey was performed asking claims adjusters and college students their perspectives on the workers’ compensation talent gap. The study author, Nikki Jackson, vice president of strategy at MTI America, was joined in a session at RISKWORLD by Carey Armistead, VP of workers’ compensation claims at SOMPO North America, to discuss the research and how the industry is tackling the ongoing talent challenges. 

The session, titled “The Workers’ Compensation Talent Shortage: Gaining Insights From Adjusters and College Students,” brought together seasoned professionals, students, and those in their early career years to learn about the survey and how the industry is responding to the talent shortage. 

Strategies for Attracting and Retaining Insurance Talent

Jackson described the research she conducted on retention, onboarding programs, and the talent shortage. She surveyed 140 claims professionals and 400 college students across the U.S. to learn more about career longevity, loyalty, and attrition. 

The survey found college students prioritize meaningful work and corporate social responsibility when evaluating potential employers. They use digital platforms to research companies, placing greater emphasis on social media reviews. Claims professionals value engaging onboarding experiences, ongoing professional development, and client interaction. 

The speakers stressed the importance of understanding the industry landscape, current opportunities, and future challenges as companies look to fill empty roles and manage the talent shortage. Some other strategies for attracting and retaining talent discussed in the session included providing meaningful work and enriching professional development opportunities along with creating an environment where innovation is valued. 

Companies can develop incremental advancement tracks that are flexible and build critical skills for new employees, instead of only focusing on promotional opportunities that may be few in number. Lateral movements can be a way of engaging early-career professionals as they continue up-skilling and gaining new knowledge. 

“We’ve got to create opportunities for them to feel like they are developing skills, not just continuing to use the ones they’ve acquired and it’s the same old, same old every day,” Armistead said. “Find out what people are good at and what speaks to their heart. You’ve got to find what it is about this job that has kept them here this long and build on it. It’s not going to be the same recipe for every person.”

For professionals who are more senior in their roles, the speakers recommended considering compensation adjustments when these professionals take on more responsibilities, like training new employees or managing more complex losses. As professionals advance in their careers, they sometimes lose enrichment opportunities as they become more focused on niche roles. To combat this, the speakers suggested continuing to offer mentorship to these late-career professionals.  

Communication, Communication, Communication

Communication is a key component of retaining talent. Companies should communicate openly and often, especially about changes that may impact employees.

New technologies, like the surge of generative AI taking place at many insurers, can be distressing to employees. They may fear losing their jobs to AI or simply be nervous about keeping up with the technology.

Companies may see higher retention rates when they communicate how technology will benefit employees, not replace them. Quelling fears and encouraging confidence can lead to employees who take chances, try new things, and innovate often. 

Finally, insurers can consider partnering with local colleges or universities with RMI programs and with Gamma Iota Sigma to promote internships and recruit candidates.

Collegiate programs like the INROADS internships encourage diverse candidates to consider careers in many industries, including risk and insurance. Attracting and retaining new talent often starts at the internship level with students returning to the same employer every summer throughout their college career — with many accepting full-time positions after graduation with this same employer. 

The risk and insurance industry is in the midst of a significant talent gap, with the shortage expected to continue. This could mean a loss of institutional knowledge along with the delays a lack of adjusters could bring to the claims process. The good news is the strategies being deployed by many could turn the tide on the attraction and retention challenges, bringing new talent to an industry ready for innovative thinkers. 

“There is a shift in our industry and our community,” Jackson said. “People are taking to social media platforms to talk about how cool the industry is. I think as a community we’re starting to do better at communicating the advantages of a risk and insurance career.” 

This shift Jackson talks about can be the catalyst the industry needs to overcome the talent shortage. &

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