In an era marked by rapid technological advancements, evolving customer needs and shortened tenure of employment, the insurance industry faces the challenge of attracting and retaining talented professionals. One effective strategy to address this issue is defining a clear career path. A well-structured career path provides employees with guidance, opportunities for growth and a sense of purpose, ultimately leading to higher employee retention, job satisfaction and pride of employment.

The career path links the learning journey with curriculum, culture and community to establish a holistic career view. A well-defined career path shared openly can be the best tool for attracting new talent, especially Generation Z (Gen Z) as they consider career opportunities. Let’s explore the benefits of defining a career path targeted to Gen Z and early entrants to the insurance industry and evaluate some strategies for training, on-the-job experiences and business development.

Training: Equipping employees with essential skills

Comprehensive training programs play a vital role in preparing employees for success. By providing structured and tailored training, organizations can ensure that employees acquire the necessary skills and knowledge in a progressive, stair-stepping fashion to excel in their roles and beyond. A defined learning path for progressive roles implies learning is a key for professional growth.

Research also supports the positive impact of training on employee retention and satisfaction. A 2018 workplace learning study by LinkedIn found that 94% of employees would stay longer in companies that are willing to invest in their professional development. This can be attributed to employees feeling valued, invested in and equipped with the skills needed to excel in their roles and prepare for advancement. Furthermore, training enhances job satisfaction by reducing uncertainty, increasing confidence in decision-making and performing tasks effectively.

It is important to develop a comprehensive training curriculum covering core competencies required in the insurance industry at each level and paint a clear picture for career growth. Incorporate both theoretical and practical training, including classroom sessions, simulations and hands-on experiences. Additionally, provide ongoing scheduled and self-paced training opportunities to keep employees updated on industry trends and advancements.

A CompTIA study reported 44% of Gen Z employees would spend more time learning or training if they received recognition from their managers. Credentialing is an added benefit to many of these programs, earning an industry designation that is recognized and valued by employers.

On-the-job experiencesFostering growth and development

Learning by doing is experiential learning at its best. It offers meaningful, on-the-job experiences that are crucial for career progression and personal development. Providing employees with diverse opportunities to apply their skills and knowledge enhances their engagement, job satisfaction and pride in their work. And, for many new to the industry, it links the function of the role with the related behaviors necessary to support insureds in stressful situations. This is validated by a Training Industry Magazine study indicating 68% of employees prefer to learn or train in the workplace. This is particularly relevant in the insurance industry, where employees can specialize in various areas such as underwriting, claims management or risk assessment. By allowing employees to learn on the job and explore different roles and responsibilities, organizations can promote skill development and career advancement.

As part of the career pathing used in one company’s property business, programs pairing new entrants with experienced professionals can create valued learning experiences balanced by expert guidance and support. The path presents a bright future for advancement while connecting growth with learning, experiences and progressive responsibilities. Additionally, the encouragement of cross-functional training and rotational programs exposes colleagues to different departments and roles within the organization. This not only broadens their skill set but fosters networking and a deeper understanding of the industry as a whole.

Nurturing business developmentAccount growth and client relationships

Beyond functional career development through training, a career path should also focus on fostering business development through account growth and client relationships. Encouraging employees to build strong relationships with clients not only benefits the organization but also connects the colleague with the business and contributes to job satisfaction and pride of employment. Research conducted by the Corporate Executive Board found that employees who feel a strong sense of pride in their organizations are 50% more likely to go above and beyond their job requirements. By enabling employees to establish meaningful connections with clients, organizations can foster loyalty and satisfaction, resulting in improved business outcomes.

To leverage engagement, consider implementing a client-centered program for colleagues that emphasizes relationship building and account growth. Provide employees with the necessary tools, resources and training to know the client’s business, markets served and needs. This knowledge will lead to effective management of client portfolios and nurture long-term partnerships. Additionally, recognize and reward employees who demonstrate exceptional client service and contribute to business growth. Whether in a direct sales role or not, LinkedIn allows all to follow clients, learn from their posts, comment and connect. As reported by Wellable, companies with a highly engaged workforce are 21% more profitable and 17% more productive than those with disengaged staff. Linking business development into the career path emphasizes an organization is a sales-driven entity — in some capacity we all sell.

Defining a clear career path for entrants to the insurance industry offers numerous benefits, including increased employee retention, job satisfaction and pride of employment. By implementing best practices in training, on-the-job experiences and business development, organizations can create a supportive environment that nurtures employee growth and development. Through these initiatives, the insurance industry can attract and retain talented professionals who can see a bright future and are committed to contributing to the success of the organization. A well-defined career path can position an organization as an employer of choice, ensuring long-term success in a competitive industry and solidifying the colleague and employer bond.

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth article in a multiple-part series on attracting, retaining and building into the next generation of insurance professionals. The final article in this series will discuss the power of recognition to strengthen the colleague and employer bond.

Douglas Dell is vice president and director of Vale National Training Center, Inc. Contact him at Future articles in this series with include creating specialized programs to build community and defining a career trajectory to encourage retentionOpinions expressed are the author’s.

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