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Transferring Knowledge in the Digital Age

With top-tier talent retiring out of the industry, it’s important carriers consider how this knowledge is transferred in an increasingly-digital age. We can no longer rely on in-person mentoring and the younger generation being able to directly absorb knowledge through a sit-in environment. Gordon Vater, Business Development Director at Gallagher Bassett – United Kingdom, explores how carriers can modernise their legacy programs. 

The insurance industry world-wide is set to undergo a significant talent shift, with many existing positions filled by managers and executives with decades of knowledge set to fall vacant in the coming years. As many knowledgeable professionals plan to retire out of the industry, we expect the industry might see up to a 40% shortfall of suitable talent.   


So, why is this shortfall growing? Simply put, insurance is not trendy or attractive to new recruits. Carriers are unable to draw in new, motivated and ambitious talent who are hungry to learn.  


Recent negative press hasn’t helped the industry’s reputation either, with insurers facing global criticism for making tough, yet controversial, decisions around business interruption or travel insurance claims from the pandemic and social inflation contributing to a rising mistrust of the industry. To add further pain to this problem, the almost total shift to digital work has made it next to impossible for experienced operators to meet for face-to-face mentoring or allow younger professionals to shadow them to absorb knowledge. This means many carriers are at risk of losing large portions of their capable workforce, leading to client service risks and lost new business opportunity. 


We all have a responsibility to make sure this knowledge and the opportunity to engage the next generation of carrier experts is not lost. Here’s how carriers can address the talent gap: 


1) Engage with industry support groups 

No matter what region you’re in, there are plenty of professional bodies with chapters for young professionals to access mentoring, thoughtful advice and meaningful connections. You can take advantage of these groups in two ways: 1) secure speaking and mentoring opportunities for your senior executives to profile your company and connect with potential talent; and, 2) encourage your younger team members to build and grow their skills within a supported environment. By empowering your team to utilise the full scope of these groups, you’ll reap the benefits of their increased passion and engagement with the industry. 


2) Formalise digital mentoring supports  

Don’t wait until it’s too late for knowledge to be passed on. Begin with a formal peer mentoring program to connect senior executives with younger team members. Whether it’s weekly Zoom calls or supervision on a particular client project, there are many ways you can start the knowledge transference without having to rush the process. Make sure all parties agree to a scope which suits their availability, capacity and career interests, with regular evaluation of whether the relationship is working and functional. 


3) Sell the sector 

There is a clear perception of insurance as being grey men or women in grey suits in a call centre. But, as we all know, the reality of our sector is completely different. We offer one of the few jobs where the right talent has the opportunity to be an investigator, lawyer, accountant or surveyor all in the same day. With a broad spectrum of industries to work across, insurance carriers really are at the centre of everything.  

 The carrier sector is not stale and old, it’s an industry that has seen one of the most rapid adoptions of technical innovation – far quicker than many other industries. This change is another reason why carriers must invest in hiring fresh talent, with data scientists, behavioural scientists and digital experts needed to support the work of claims experts and underwriters. 


4) Share and celebrate success stories 

To help shift this unfortunate perception with existing and potential talent, carriers need to acknowledge and celebrate their experienced operators. Share the real anecdotes behind their success to showcase just what a newcomer to the industry can expect by committing to the sector. Provide opportunities for senior executives to connect with newcomers through their stories and pass on their experiences to help motivate and inspire them. 


5) Hire talent that will grow with you 

Once you have your internal and external talent strategies in place, it’s about hiring the right people. We know the younger generation is more likely to change career and employers frequently throughout their working life, as they seek new challenges and experiences. But, with the right recruitment practices in place, you can secure talent that is more likely to remain committed to your brand. Here at Gallagher Bassett, we know it’s critical for our clients to have access to the best possible claims talent, which is why we invest highly in recruiting and attracting the very the best the industry has to offer.  

To help combat this issue, we’ve recently launched a specialty recruitment service to help UK carriers overcome the talent gap. Connect with one of our recruitment experts today. 

Gordon Vater

Managing Director – GB Technical

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