It’s no secret that COVID-19 has changed the way many of us go about our daily lives. It has caused a shift in perspective, in priorities, in the way we earn a living. It has morphed a working world that, pre-pandemic, was primarily office-based, into one with a largely remote workforce. While some employers view this as a temporary fix, others are looking for ways to modernize the way they work by continuing remote work and maintaining their employees’ newfound work-life balance.
Particularly for the insurance industry, continuing to allow employees to work from home could reap tremendous results in terms of employee recruitment and retention. According to a study by Vertafore, “an overwhelming 63% [of respondents aged 24-39] indicated that they would leave the insurance industry for a better work-life balance.” If employers refuse to change with the times, they run the risk of alienating their current employees as well as missing opportunities to hire the most qualified candidates. If the perfect candidate lives across the country and a company is unwilling to allow remote working, that prospective employee is likely to find another company that will. Employers need to stay competitive in today’s market, and hiring talent regardless of geography as well as allowing employees more flexible working conditions are simple ways to do that.
According to Kristin Nease, vice president of Human Resources at Vertafore, “the insurance industry will have to get creative when it comes to filling the huge people shortage we are facing now and in the coming years as the older generation retires. We need innovative solutions, and we need to align with what is important to a younger and more diverse group of people.” Just over half of the respondents in Vertafore’s survey said they want to work remotely at least half the time, and with the right tools, a dispersed workforce can become even more productive than one that is forced to go into the office every day. A participant in the Wells Media Group’s Property/Casualty Insurance Industry Coronavirus Survey not only praised remote work for giving them more time—since they no longer had to commute to work—but also commented on their increased levels of productivity because the office can often be full of distractions. “The office can be nice to see coworkers,” they said, “but honestly it also provides a platform for a lot of distractions. I don’t have those distractions anymore so I am able to focus and work very efficiently.”
While some employers may have concerns about a cohesive culture or lack of discipline within a fully remote workforce, there are plenty of remote work tools available to keep employees connected and engaged. Considering either fully remote or hybrid options could be beneficial for all parties involved. In an article on Why Insurers Should Embrace Remote Work, McKinsey and Company stated that “a hybrid option allows companies to rethink their real estate footprint while helping the industry shed stuffy perceptions that some industry professionals, particularly millennials, have characterized as a detractor for wooing new talent.”
In addition, FlexJobs conducted a survey of over 4,000 professionals working remotely during the pandemic, and 65% of respondents wanted to transition to full-time remote work after the pandemic. 31% stated they would prefer a hybrid option, with some days at home and others in the office. Sara Sutton, CEO and founder of FlexJobs and Remote.co, stated, “Allowing employees to work flexibly can significantly reduce the conflict that we all experience between our personal and professional lives and better equip everyone, regardless of their career level, to take better care of their mental, emotional, and physical needs.”
Now is the time to listen to what employees are saying and really hear them. Create more flexible working conditions and not only will you retain your current employees and improve their overall work-life balance, but you will also be able to attract new talent and fill the required positions with people who are truly qualified to do the job.