In 2016 we fielded a lot of questions from employers regarding PTO, flex scheduling, and work hours in general. As the talent pool shrinks, more employers are rethinking their traditional HR practices in order to attract the employees that they would like to hire. It is clear that things are changing somewhat, with more employers offering different flex options with earlier or later start times. A couple of agencies have offered a flex schedule option of a 4 day work week with extended hours. We are seeing these options more often in order to accommodate daycare or school scheduling, as well as traffic patterns for those employees with a longer commute. Sometimes an accommodation in this area can be effective with recruiting new employees.
We do see options of working from home on a limited basis. As a side note, we have seen employers in outlying areas set up for completely remote employees with varying levels of success depending upon the investment in IT , and identifying the employees that are self-disciplined and able to work autonomously.
With regard to PTO and work hours, we analyzed data on 31 independent agencies in south east Michigan. The large majority of Michigan independent insurance agencies are using PTO time instead of separate vacation and sick days. The average starting PTO for a new employee was approximately 15 days for the first full year. After that time, the increases were seen primarily at 5-9 years with days increasing to an average of 19. There were also increases at 10 years +, with varying schedules and “maximum” days. Experienced employees who have built up to higher PTO are reluctant to lose that time when switching employers, so we do see some flexibility from employers in order to make a job offer that is accepted.
The average work day was approximately 8.5 hours, with 1 hour for a lunch period – so most of agencies have a 37.5 hour work week if the lunch period is deducted. We have noted that there are a few agencies that have decided to reduce their hours by shortening the lunch period. This seems to be something that most employees favor.
Recognizing early on the looming staffing crisis for independent insurance agencies, The Michigan Association of Insurance Agent’s established the MI Future Foundation. For the past 15+ years, MI Future has been working to bring prospective employees and independent insurance agencies together, through a focus on public relations and education.
MI Future is doing a great job of attracting young talent to our industry. We recently attended the Insuring MI Future Summit, and were impressed with the progress that has been made by this group.
Through no small effort, they have managed to coordinate a program where students in area high schools can earn credit toward graduation for insurance related courses. These courses also qualify for college credit within the state of Michigan. Currently, there are active high school programs in Genesee and Ingham Counties that provide excellent models for duplication. The curriculum for this program has been approved by the state, allowing it to be offered in any county in the state.
Even this small amount of insurance knowledge makes these young people desirable as new hires for independent insurance agencies. Please spread the word if you have any connections within the educational community. We have many young people graduating college with general degrees, big debt, and no suitable employment. A high school providing this program will give students a leg up on a real job upon graduation, even before completing their degree. The insurance industry continues to provide a stable, lucrative, and diverse array of career opportunities.
Please spread the word if you have any connections within the educational community. This is a great opportunity for young people in every area of the state.
More information can be found at www.insuringmifuture.org
Governor Rick Snyder has declared February “Careers In Insurance Month”
In an effort to support the initiatives of the Insuring Michigan Future Coalition, the Governor has issued a proclamation giving Michigan insurance careers it’s very own month. The state recognizes that the insurance industry currently employs 50,000 people and that number is projected to grow. In addition, 25% of the current insurance workforce will retire in the next ten years. This means that there is tremendous opportunity for young insurance professionals within the state of Michigan.
We need to help spread the word to young college graduates that there are many opportunities for stable and well-paying insurance jobs. The average wage for Michigan’s insurance industry is $64,000. This is well above the average salary for other industry groups within the state. The variety of insurance positions is extensive, and the scope is beyond what most people consider when thinking of the field. Positions in underwriting, claims, loss control, accounting, customer service, marketing, sales, auditing, compliance, etc. create opportunities that are a good match for many different skill sets and interests.
Internships are available with many Michigan insurance organizations. If you know of any talented young graduates who aren’t sure of their career path, having them visit www.insuringmifuture.org could open up many opportunities for them. With some internship experience, we are able to assist candidates with landing a great insurance job. Even without experience or a college degree, we are finding that some organizations are open to bringing in entry level talent in administrative roles and then training them in different areas of insurance.
Our independent agency clients have entered a new era of staffing. We are seeing a significant increase in hiring of candidates with little to no insurance experience. In 2014, 12.5% of our placements with independent agencies were with candidates who possessed little to no insurance experience. The first quarter of 2015 saw that percentage increase to over 20%. The most common entry points have been production, employee benefit analysts, and reception/administrative roles with an eye toward training them in either personal or commercial lines. We have also seen an increase in career transitions with the appropriate educational background. For example, financial analysts in other industries who can apply their skill set within the employee benefits area.
Salaries are climbing in commercial lines and employee benefits in particular. Below are the averages we are seeing with new hires. When the positions involve very large/complex accounts, self-funding experience, or marketing/client facing skills, we are seeing up to $90k in the commercial lines and employee benefit account manager positions.
|Compensation by position – Average|
|Emp. Benefits AM||$55-70k|
|Emp. Benefits CSR||$45-60k|
The average headcount has remained relatively stable, with a slight increase over 2013. However, agencies have reported an anticipated retirement rate of 27% of their current staff within the next 10 years. Several agencies have started to train new people so that they have a “bench” in place. Every industry is going to be in an eventual race for talent as we face a high retirement rate and a shortage of qualified employees.
Flex Time / Remote Office
We have not seen an increase in flex time or working remotely. This is an area that Millennials are going to impact. This generation expects more flexibility in their work schedule. When the shortage is great enough, accommodating that is going to be important to attracting and retaining talent.
Michigan independent agencies are financially healthy. There has been steady growth, with most agencies reporting an increase in overall revenue of at least 5%. Staffing levels have remained steady, but hiring to replace retiring employees has increased. This is a trend we see continuing well into the next decade. The new workforce is more educated and has a thirst for technology and team based work philosophies. They are blurring the lines between professional and personal life much more than prior generations, both with scheduling and with overall work relationships. An investment now in updating HR practices and tuning into the Millennials will be time well spent as we move toward 2020 when it is estimated that almost half of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials. That’s only 5 years away!
Should I accept a counter offer?
Every year has a theme with insurance employment. Last year was the year of the counter offer. As insurance recruiters, we can typically smell a pending counteroffer a mile away. The insurance job candidate will give send us many indications based on their level of enthusiasm, the questions asked or not asked, the frequency or infrequency of communication, etc. In short, we know that something is awry.
Please recognize that this is not an unusual situation and your insurance recruiter isn’t going to be angry with you – but we need to know what is transpiring. We have an obligation to counsel both parties, and an employer may have a second choice waiting in the wings for a position they need to fill. As an insurance recruiter, we will counsel you not to accept a counter offer. An insurance candidate may understandably view this as biased, but truly it is not. This is why we encourage you to do your own independent research on the subject. You can find several credible sources on the internet that will provide you with the potential pitfalls and statistics relating to accepting a counter offer. Below are some of the key points you will find, but there are many others as well. The bottom line is that you should be extremely cautious about accepting a counter offer.
Some relationships are meant to end. Perhaps the employee has outgrown the position, perhaps the culture of the company has changed and it is no longer a good fit for either party. Fear of change can hold both parties back from moving forward when they really should. We see this play out time and again, with the vast majority of people accepting counter offers being either let go or resigning again within a 12 month period.
If you were directed to this article by your insurance recruiter and ultimately decide to accept a counter offer, we will tell you what we always tell insurance professionals – don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call us when it doesn’t work out the way you thought it would.
Yes, this is true even in a conservative industry such as insurance. For a successful experience, the details and subtleties are important. Please give some thought to the following with regard to insurance staffing.
Your organization has a reputation to uphold. Even if you do not wish to extend an offer to the insurance job candidate, you want that candidate to have a good experience. If your job candidate is ever asked about your company, you want their answer to be that they interviewed there and thought it was a great company but it just didn’t work out. This is just what you would want a person you dated to tell someone that inquired about you. What you don’t want is for the insurance job candidate to tell all about their awful interview experience where they felt rejected and disrespected. Your insurance recruiting agency can help you to create positive candidate experiences.
How do you create a good insurance job candidate experience? It is just like dating.
The results that follow were compiled from independent agencies located in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, Livingston & Washtenaw counties. If there was a discernable difference between counties we have noted it. We have also included data that we have gathered informally from active candidates and client companies in order to make sure that each segment was equally represented in the summary.
The reported differences between 2012 and 2013 were fairly consistent between agencies. All responding agencies reported an increase in revenue between 5 and 10%. We have seen demonstrated financial health among our client agencies, with many again looking to invest in producer hires and book purchases.
On average, agencies are at a flat headcount, or up by 1-2 employees. Most agencies do not anticipate adding to staff in 2014. The average revenue per employee was $124,927, although this was a large range (from approximately $88,000-$180,000).
100% of the agencies reporting offer group medical benefits of some type. All agencies reported an increase in their group health insurance premiums, with most ranging between 9 and 12%. One agency reported more than a 50% increase. Coverage offerings seem to have remained consistent, with some reductions in HSA contributions or small increases in employee contribution amount. None of the responding agencies planned on eliminating their group health plan.
Flex time / Remote Office
30% of reporting agencies do allow flex time for their workers. The vast majority of these agencies have set work shifts that employees may utilize. Only two agencies specifically mentioned working from home under certain circumstances and only for certain categories of employees. 80% of reporting agencies have part-time employees in several categories, notably clerical and receptionist positions.
The below compensation levels reflect a combination of long term employees and recent hires. It is important to note that if we had restricted the compensation numbers to people hired in the calendar year 2013, the averages would have increased. This is an employee market, and salaries are rising in order to entice people to make a move.
*Macomb and Livingston counties had slightly lower salaries for each category.
Compensation by position – Average
|Emp. Benefits AM||
|Emp. Benefits CSR/||
There are as many variations here as there are producers in the workforce.
Training & Development
The majority of responding agencies require that their service staff is licensed. If it is not “required” it is encouraged. Most agencies preferred online continuing education courses or carrier sponsored classes.
30% of responding agencies had hired someone without insurance experience in the past year. Training was mostly one-on-one with experienced staff members. Sometimes this was supplemented by carrier sponsored classes and/or online tutorials. Overall the outcomes have been very good, although time consuming. The positions which were hired/trained for included personal and commercial lines assistants and producers.
The use of service centers and the likelihood of considering outsourcing for policy checking remained relatively unchanged from our 2009 survey:
|Utilize Service Centers||67.0%||65.0%|
Many of the employers we talk with have shared that although they are seeing profitability rise again, business is more challenging than ever. There is general financial health with our agency clients and a cautious optimism for continued growth.
Hiring was very strong in 2013, much of it due to pent up demand and a willingness to invest in additions to staff.
We hope that this information is useful to you. We appreciate your participation and value your business. Please let us know your thoughts and feedback!
Where are all the insurance job candidates?
Many agencies and carriers struggled to find qualified insurance professionals for their open positions in 2012, and we are seeing that trend continue with insurance staffing in 2013.
There are some unique environmental trends at play that will affect insurance job staffing in 2013. This year will be shaped by a challenging insurance employment market. The market is shifting away from a buyer’s market. As a result there are two key issues that need to be explored as hiring managers and companies think about their insurance staffing needs for 2013.
Despite continued high unemployment, many companies in 2012 struggled to find qualified insurance professional applicants for their openings. While this is a result in some part of real shifts in required job skills, it is also a reflection of the more detailed and demanding selection criteria that has developed in the current “buyer’s” employment market. Businesses will need to confront this environment as the new normal and respond accordingly.
During the recession it was possible to demand exactly the experience and background you were seeking as an employer, and to be able to find a qualified candidate with reasonable salary expectations. Currently, most companies will need to relax their stringent selection criteria and focus on bright people with great attitudes that can learn the skills that they do not already possess.
As businesses contend with the continued lack of qualified insurance candidates (perceived or real), it will trigger more intense competition for select insurance professionals. As a result, companies will focus more on wooing talent, in part by delivering a distinctive and appealing candidate experience during the recruiting process.
A great candidate experience requires timely communication, feedback, and a display of courtesy with regard to scheduling and interview techniques. This is very important for employers to realize, especially in a tight market. Even if the employer does not ultimately extend an insurance job offer to the candidate – a particularly bad candidate experience will be shared with other potential candidates that are known to that individual. It is a small industry – it is important to take some small measures to maintain a positive employment reputation.
2012 has been a very active year for Michigan insurance jobs. The market is shifting from an employer’s market to an employee’s market in many segments. Salaries have been stagnant and workloads have been high in many insurance organizations. We have seen quite a bit of movement with insurance professionals looking for better employment options now that the economy is showing signs of recovery. We have seen more job offers declined if the salary differential was small. Other areas of concern with potential job changers were vacation time and benefit waiting periods.
Below is a recap of 2012 regarding what we have seen relative to salaries and other trends.
Salaries are ranging from $30-47k for Michigan insurance positions. This still continues to be an area of high demand as the market hardens and insurance companies are requiring more underwriting information from the agencies. Additionally many policyholders are shopping their insurance renewals, creating more service work with remarketing in order to retain business. It remains challenging to find qualified personal lines CSRs with independent agency experience. Unfortunately we are an aging industry and continue to struggle with attracting and training new people.
Salaries range from $50k+ depending on types of accounts and revenue handled. Some positions provide a bonus based upon retention. Salary levels are rising as truly qualified candidates are not willing to move laterally as they might have done in the past few years. We anticipate that the demand for experienced commercial account managers will continue in 2013. There will be a need for experienced insurance professionals that can negotiate with insurance carriers on terms as the market continues to harden.
Salaries range from $40-55k. There is still a high demand for qualified insurance candidates for these positions, which may range from a CSR that handles a small business desk to a CSR that supports an account management team on larger commercial insurance accounts.
Salaries range from $45-70k+ depending on the book of business handled and the size of employer groups. We are finding many brokers and agencies targeting larger employer groups with the uncertainty of healthcare reform and insurance exchanges. Experience with self funding options is in high demand.
Salaries range from 40-60k+ depending on experience levels. These candidates are in high demand, particularly if they have superior Excel skills and experience with self funding.
Hourly rates ranging from $17.00-$22.00 per hour for licensed insurance professionals in both personal lines and commercial lines. We saw a significant increase in part time insurance employment this year.
There is consistent demand for producers, however, there was a reluctance to provide base salaries and draws throughout the recession. We did see hiring with base salaries this year, although the pace was slower and the hiring process longer. We anticipate higher demand in 2013, as most agencies had a good financial year in 2012 and are once again able to invest in organic growth.
Salaries ranging from $50-60k. We saw more hiring in this area in 2012. Most positions were created by attrition. We still are not seeing additions to staff in this area, however, we anticipate greater demand in 2013 as the market continues to harden.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact me at your convenience!