How Creating a Company Culture Can Help Attract & Retain Insurance Talent

We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again: making strong, long term connections between companies and job candidates is a lot like finding a romantic partner. Personality–both of the individual insurance professionals and of the organization–is key to determining compatibility and the prospect of growth together. But even in today’s more holistic hiring environment, personality (or company culture) is too often neglected as a tool for attracting and retaining the best employees. In this article, we’ll explore some strategies for evaluating and building a company culture that feels authentic to your insurance organization and improves your employees’ engagement in the long term.

H2: What is Company Culture?

Put as simply as possible, company culture is how you do what you do. It includes both formal and informal systems, behaviors, and values that create a particular experience for your customers and your employees. Let’s think about a few examples:

  • Systems: Your company’s chosen internal messaging platform like Slack or Skype.
  • Behaviors: Most employees take a “working lunch.”
  • Values: Your company mission includes annual charitable giving.

All of these elements combine, creating a company culture that provides your staff with a guidebook to how they interact with the organization and with each other. You should take into account not only the way things are currently being done, but also how your organization sees itself or wants others to see it. Building a company culture happens both naturally and through deliberate strategies. While culture may come quite easily at small sized organizations, it can require more conscious development and maintenance as your company grows.

Why is Company Culture Important in Today’s Labor Market?

Arguably, company culture has always been important. But as insurance employers are well aware, organizations have been facing increasing turnover rates, smaller candidate pools, and aging employees. If it isn’t already, planning for and mitigating staffing challenges should be a top priority. And more than ever, efforts to hire quality candidates and improve retention has made good company culture an essential.

As an added benefit, employees who are satisfied and engaged with their company culture are 21% more productive than the average worker. Doing the work to make continual company culture improvements can translate directly into profit for your company. But since we’re insurance recruiting professionals, we’ll focus on the impact it has on staffing.

How Good Culture Breeds Growth & Retention

Improving company culture is inherently connected to your employee engagement. Companies with strong culture have up to 72% higher employee engagement rates. Research confirms that engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their organization. Even when faced with another job opportunity, only 25% of engaged employees would consider leaving, compared to over half of unengaged employees. If retention has been a struggle for your organization, investing time into building company culture could have huge payouts.

And when it comes to growing your team or filling recently opened positions, company culture is yet another tool in your toolbox for successful recruitment. In fact, it’s so important to candidates’ decisions that 35% of professionals would pass on their ideal job opportunity if the company culture did not suit them.

But company culture comes into play even before the decision process begins. Check out some of our tips for communicating your company culture on your LinkedIn page where applicants will first begin to explore your organization. You should also work to create a positive candidate experience that aligns with your company culture. Organizations with good hiring practices and positive interviews improve their quality hires by 70%. First impressions aren’t everything, but they sure are important.

4 Essential Components to Building a Company Culture

Hopefully now you have an idea of why so many hiring professionals are buzzing about the importance of company culture, and why creating a company culture you can be proud of is worth your time and effort. But building a company culture is easier said than done.

We want to be clear about one thing from the start: company culture improvements don’t happen by making decisions from “an ivory tower.” Not only does building a company culture take time, it takes a lot of listening and input from your actual team. As you go through these four elements, keep in mind that the purpose of this work is to improve the experience of your employees and their connection to your brand as a whole.

Create Strong Corporate Leadership

Your employees rely on their leaders and managers to provide feedback, show gratitude for good work, direct tasks, and propel the company towards growth. Investing in your leadership models can result in huge company culture improvements. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Provide opportunities for regular leadership training, either internally or by working with external experts in corporate leadership.
  • Foster “open door” communications where employees can feel comfortable bringing their struggles and ideas to their leaders at any time.
  • Include regular opportunities for leaders to receive feedback, both from higher ups and from their staff.
  • Keep managers and C-level staff involved with some of the ground work. Ensuring that they have continued understanding of their team’s tasks and skills will help avoid disconnect down the line.

Foster Work-Life Balance

For many of us, the introduction of remote work has changed the relationship between work and personal life. On one hand, people have gained back some of the time it takes to commute to work or meetings, increasing the hours they can spend resting, doing fulfilling hobbies or spending time with family. But on the other, the expectation to be digitally “available” has risen and many people find themselves working during times that would normally have been reserved for meeting their personal needs. Take a look at a few ways your company can promote a healthy balance:

  • Offer flex hours where individuals can start or end their days earlier or later depending on their needs.
  • Place boundaries around communications such as when it is or isn’t appropriate to send emails or make phone calls.
  • Provide employee benefits that encourage a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. Perhaps you offer occasional lunches or can reimburse employees for gym memberships.

Boost Employee Recognition

Most leaders know that recognizing and appreciating the work of your team is a crucial element to their job satisfaction as well as continual improvement of their skills. Recognition should come both privately and publicly. It can be difficult to translate certain forms of kudos to a remote work environment so managers will need to work extra hard to find ways to provide this valuable aspect of company culture. What systems can you build to ensure that this element of company culture isn’t missed?

  • Set aside time in department or all-staff meetings to share a few “wins” from the week, making sure to call out individuals and how their unique strengths contributed to the success.
  • Use company social media channels, newsletters, or your website to highlight employees. This will not only give them a spotlight but also help your customers get to know your team better.
  • Foster peer-to-peer recognition. You can lead by example and begin building habits of appreciation by prompting your team with questions like “what do you like about collaborating with X?”

Find Ways to Build Community

The expectation is not to be best friends with all your coworkers or employees–in fact, some argue that keeping clear boundaries is better. But you still want to build trusting relationships within your organization that breed learning, creativity, and idea-sharing. By now, we all know how difficult it can be to do this on a Zoom call and many insurance companies have employees across multiple geographic areas. We’ve brainstormed some ways your company can create a strong community even with these challenges:

  • Host regular virtual lunches or coffee breaks where your team can celebrate milestones or share what is going well and what they think could go better in a more casual setting. It can help to come prepared with a few conversation starters.
  • Bring in guest speakers, host workshops, or offer employees an opportunity to attend conferences where they can network and grow their skills.
  • Create chats and email threads around specific topics and encourage your employees to use those spaces to collaborate and share ideas.
  • If possible, host in-person events like company outings or holiday dinners to further strengthen relationships.

Start Creating a Company Culture Authentic to You

It’s important to remember that there is no one right way to go about building a company culture. There are many different structures and types of company culture that perform well for their unique businesses. As we mentioned earlier, employee feedback will be your key to success. If you plan to embark on a journey towards company culture improvements, you might want to start the process with a survey to your current team. It’s good to be ambitious and aspirational but don’t stray so far from your existing company culture that it begins to feel disingenuous.

And if you’re interested in having a hiring expert evaluate your company culture and help you better understand how you can leverage it in recruiting and retention, look no further. We consider ourselves matchmakers in the insurance industry, bringing candidates and organizations together whose personalities will form a long-term bond. Just give us a call or email us to get started towards hiring for culture fit.

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