Closing the Talent Gap

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By Sharon Emek, Ph.D., CIC, CEO and founder of WAHVESharon Emek, Ph.D., CIC

Here’s a sobering thought: By next year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports there could well upwards of 200,000 positions in the insurance industry that will go unfilled. That’s because 25 percent of the current insurance workforce is expected to retire in 2018, according to Insurance Business America.

The problem could snowball over time. The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation says today’s average insurance professional is 45 years old. Over the next 15 years, BLS reports that nearly half of the current insurance industry workforce will retire.

While that may not come as a total surprise given the widely publicized exodus of 70 million Baby Boomers from corporate America, it’s an issue that becomes more critical coupled with the news that millennials just aren’t interested in the insurance industry. According to a study by The Hartford, just four percent of millennials have an insurance career on their wish list.

For the agency/brokerage looking to hire, that creates a significant gap in the talent pool. If attracting millennials isn’t working and locating talent is becoming increasingly difficult, the industry must innovate how they hire and employ, and how they perceive the way we do business.

The “New” Talent

That includes rethinking who your next worker will be. There’s a wealth of talent and skill with proven expertise that could be employed today — retiring workers. At WAHVE, we interact with many retiring or retired workers (“pretirees”) who want to continue working, but not necessarily in the traditional sense. Some veteran insurance pros are looking to downsize their careers, either to gain more work-life balance or to change direction and focus in new areas.

Economic pressures compel some insurance veterans to continue working. Some are looking to supplement retirement income, while others are looking to recoup losses sustained during the recession. These are engaged, interested and skilled workers eager to bring their knowledge back into the market in a support role. Moreover, they want to work from home.

The New Office

It’s a business model that’s increasing in popularity and use. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, 43 percent of today’s workforce performs all or part of their work from home. There are distinct advantages to hiring with remote workers:

Low or no overhead. Adding to your employee pool usually comes with additional expenses — benefits, dedicated office space, training and the like. Remote workers remove nearly all of those costs, and require minimal training, usually just a few days to a week learning your management systems, if they don’t already know it.

Improved communication. Our clients report that they communicate more frequently with their wahve workers than if that worker were sitting in the office. That’s because wahves are connected through messaging and video chat technology whenever they’re working for a client.

Affordable consultancy. If you’ve hired a truly experienced remote worker, you have at your disposal a consultant who has worked in the industry and can advise on complex issues.

Access to a large talent pool. A remote worker removes geographical boundaries. Your next underwriting specialist, claims adjuster or policy rater needn’t be next door.

As the talent shortage heats up and agencies/brokerages struggle to fill positions, a pretiring insurance professional can offer more than just a helping hand. No matter the need, agencies/brokerages can get talent, knowledge and right-sized skills all at an affordable price. That type of remote, dedicated worker can help agencies/brokerages grow and profit in a shifting employment market.

Sharon Emek, Ph.D., CIC, is CEO and founder of Work At Home Vintage Experts (WAHVE), an innovative contract staffing talent solution. WAHVE matches retiring insurance professionals leaving the regular workforce to insurance firms to meet their full- or part-time staffing needs. Insurance firms benefit by improving productivity and lowering costs. WAHVE’s unique qualifying process and technology platform match the right “pretirees” wherever they may live to the needs of insurance firms wherever they are located. WAHVE bridges the gap between insurance firms’ staffing needs and seasoned professionals’ “work-life” balance preferences as they phase into retirement.

You can reach Emek at or 646.807.4372, ext. 3754.

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