How has COVID-19 impacted the recruitment of senior executives in the insurance industry? We have gained insights from our searches over the recent months and can share some observations:
· A number of companies are continuing to hire during this pandemic. While every insurer and reinsurer has had to adapt with all or most of their staff working remotely, the executive talent gaps that existed prior to the pandemic have persisted and, in many instances, have been magnified.
· Candidates are willing to engage in discussions regarding their careers. We have found this to be a time when candidates are willing to have thoughtful career discussions despite the uncertain economic conditions.
· Working remotely has allowed candidates more flexibility to engage in conversations in the privacy of their own homes.
What Impact Does COVID-19 Have on Recruitment for the Insurance Industry?
A position of strength. The insurance industry has been impacted by asset volatility, higher claims in certain classes of business and potential legislative risks. Some have quantified the expected losses to the insurance industry to be equivalent to a moderate sized catastrophe event. Many of our clients have noted that the pandemic has hastened the hardening of the re/insurance market. They are focused on taking action to address the market change.
Seeking candidates with transferable skills. While some industries have been profoundly impacted by the economic downturn and have laid-off highly skilled leaders, the insurance industry is in a position to hire those leaders with transferable skills. Chief Data Officers, Heads of Analytics, Chief Operating Officers, and others now view the insurance industry with greater interest.
Upgrading talent. Some insurers and intermediaries are being cautious to add team members during this volatile time. Others have been proactive to assess their teams and are upgrading talent. These companies are making the investment now and gaining high caliber talent while there is less competition for top talent.
The potential impact of new industry entrants. In hardening market cycles, new insurers and reinsurers often form to take advantage of the desirable market conditions, creating greater demand for talent. Companies that are operating at maximum capacity now face the risk of being shorthanded when the market truly hardens and the demand for talent is at its height.
What Should Hiring Managers Keep in Mind When Recruiting Executives During this Unique Period?
Assess priorities. This challenging time has provided the opportunity for companies to assess the strengths and weaknesses of its leadership teams. It has highlighted which talent gaps must be addressed and what skills are needed.
Reconsider remote work strategies. The success many have had in shifting to remote working has led companies to reconsider which roles must be based in specific office locations and which can be remote. By expanding remote working arrangements, companies can access talent that was previously unattainable.
Build a robust virtual interview process. Ensure the virtual interview process is designed with an emphasis on meaningful discussions – the key stakeholders focused on assessing and attracting candidates; the candidates focused on vetting the opportunity and the organization.
Transparent communication. Be prepared to address the concerns that candidates have during this unique time. Candidates will seek to understand how the economic consequences of the pandemic are impacting the company’s business and how the company is positioned to move forward.
Actions speak louder than words. Candidates are paying close attention to how companies are treating employees during this challenging time. The companies that have taken care of their employees, saved jobs, demonstrated empathy and flexibility will be viewed as employers of choice.
Mitigate candidate risks. Companies that can address the concerns of candidates will be better positioned to attract top talent. For instance, the long tenured candidate will be more willing to change executive roles when a company can include severance provisions in an offer to mitigate the risk.
Forward thinking insurers and reinsurers are using this time to assess their leadership talent and add exceptional talent that will provide them the capability to take advantage of the hardening market.