Challenges to hiring and keeping qualified claims professionals
As is the case across most industries, a combination of baby boomers reaching retirement age and a strong economy continues to make it difficult for businesses in the property/casualty insurance industry to find qualified candidates. According to the Insurance Journal article Insurance Industry Facing Competitive Labor Market, the industry’s unemployment rate of 1.7% is even lower than the reported national average of 3.9%. Even so, the article points to the fact that, as of its April 2019 publication date, the “need for technology, claims and sales/marketing staff is expected to grow the greatest in the next 12 months.”
Beyond the challenge of finding qualified candidates to fill open claims department positions is the issue of employee retention. A 2018 CompData Survey shows that total turnover among organizations in the insurance industry stood at 12.8%. Although lower than the average for all industries (19.3%), this rate has trended upward in recent years.
On top of all of this, businesses struggle to retain employees who fall within the U.S. workforce’s largest demographic: millennials. Citing percentages from Gallup polling, Turnover and Retention Rates for Millennials in the Workplace lays out what the challenge looks like: “21% of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is nearly three times higher than generations outside of the demographic,” with 60% of millennials indicating an openness to different job opportunities. The PropertyCasualty360° article, How the insurance industry can attract and retain new talent, makes clear, “Companies must… learn to embrace millennial workers in a way that helps them to grow and appreciate career opportunities without job-hopping.”
An uphill battle? Attracting and retaining millennials to claims jobs
Speaking to the urgent need for bringing new claims professionals onboard to ensure the transfer of institutional knowledge from experienced workers to those who will fill their roles, the Ernst & Young whitepaper "You claim there is a Talent Gap": Why and how insurers should act today to drive future success in a changing claims landscape puts forth the hard truth that “claims organizations are struggling to recruit, thanks to the comparably less attractive image of the claims function, especially when compared to finance, marketing or other functions.” This assessment is echoed in How to Attract the Brightest and the Best to the Insurance Industry–And Keep Them, which posits that the “claims department of an insurance company might not be the first place millennials look to when searching for a job, so it’s important for insurance professionals to change perceptions of the industry to reach younger generations.” Changing this perception is a hurdle claims organizations or departments must clear in order to attract qualified candidates and ensure those candidates stay once hired. Recent publications point to some critical components to take into account when going about this process.
Focus on the right values. “For millennials, values, ethics, workplace flexibility and mentoring programs are important when seeking a job,” state the authors of the Claims Journal article Claims Recruiting: How to Successfully Attract Top Talent, “and studies show they want the companies they work for to be responsible corporate citizens.” Given the nature of most claims roles, there is likely to be a natural fit. As the article points out, “professionals who work in the insurance industry have a true passion for helping people in their time of need, and highlighting that aspect of the industry could help make it more attractive for the next generation of workers.” This also may mean rethinking the benefits afforded to workers. According to the introduction of How to Attract the Brightest and the Best to the Insurance Industry--And How to Keep Them, millennials “prize personal fulfillment and purpose of work above a job for life, eschew a long-hours culture and expect a better work-life balance than their work-centric parents.” In other words, millennials want work-life balance to be more than just a concept.
Make jobs engaging and part of a career track with a future. Millennials are, according to the Ernst & Young whitepaper You claim there is a Talent Gap, “attracted by the opportunity to use advanced technology and shape meaningful outcomes through client-facing interactions. The vastly different work styles and career expectations of the next generation must also be accounted for as they eventually populate the ranks in claims.” Equally important is ensuring that career options are appealing and well-defined, with clear advancement opportunities. As How to Attract the Brightest and the Best to the Insurance Industry–And How to Keep Them points out, in addition to the retirement of more experienced workers, the “youngest workers will leave, too, if they see no clear path to advancement and are not made to feel accepted as they move up in the ranks.”
How claims automation tools and self-service solutions can play a part
While younger workers entering the workforce are certainly more comfortable with and knowledgeable about technology than previous generations, no software or technology solution can (or will) serve as a panacea for issues related to attracting and retaining talent. But just as the use of automation tools and self-service functionality of an integrated claims management solution can help drive improvements in claimant communication and client satisfaction, they can also play a part in changing, for the better, the work that claims professionals do each day.
Change routines, change the focus. By eliminating manual processes and complicated workarounds, automation and self-service can free up adjusters and analysts to focus on parts of the job that were likely to have drawn them to the claims profession in the first place—for example, helping others or applying analytical skills to solve problems.
What might this look like in practice? Why and how insurers should act today to drive future success in a changing claims landscape provides a specific example: “Rather than removing the human element from the claim process, technology has allowed skilled resources to now concentrate on higher-value tasks (like fraud analysis).” In speaking to how a claims management solution like Origami Risk can help organizations meet the evolving expectations of clients and claimants, Part 1 of this series provides another example: “Online portals empower clients with the ability to directly run the reports they need—on-demand—and deliver the transparency that earns client trust and establishes credibility. As a bonus, each time clients access the portal and pull the information they need is one less request your staff must handle, freeing them up to work on higher-value tasks.” And as suggested in How legacy claims technology impacts adjusters, freeing up staff to spend time engaged in these types of tasks can also have a positive effect in terms of work-life balance by reducing the levels of stress that contribute to job dissatisfaction and burnout.
Contribute to onboarding and the transfer of institutional knowledge. Based on findings presented in How to Attract the Brightest and the Best to the Insurance Industry–And Keep Them, training and mentoring by senior adjusters can play a crucial role in attracting and retaining those new to the profession. This stands in direct opposition to a “sink or swim” approach to bringing less experienced claims professionals up to speed.
Beyond freeing up new claims adjusters to spend more time learning from more experienced counterparts and mentors, automation can play a part in making sure new claims adjusters are prepared to deal with their assigned claims. As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, “relying on random order assignments can lead to overwork for some adjusters and underutilization for others.” Practically, this could mean that automated assignments are created based on workloads, claim types, and other key factors. “Senior adjusters work the more complex cases, while junior adjusters draw from a constantly replenished queue of simpler claims without overwhelming those with the most open claims,” states Part 1. “This not only eliminates the need to manually assign each claim, but also sets up each adjuster for success by directing them to the claims they are best equipped to handle.”
Given the challenges that TPAs face when it comes to meeting evolving client expectations and keeping up with the demand to hire and retain claims professionals who can meet these demands, finding the right claims management technology can make a big difference. Automation solutions like those mentioned above can make possible a human-centric customer experience that builds client loyalty while also opening up possibilities for a human-centric employee experience.
To find out how your organization can use smart automation and other tools to transform claims processes, contact us below to schedule a demo.