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The challenge of recruiting in a strained insurance market

A health disaster without parallel in modern times, the Covid-19 epidemic has also presented a terrible economic shock due to the lockdowns that have been decided across the planet.

This shock was initially followed by a strong recovery in growth, but also by an increase in uncertainty with the burst of inflation and a change in the way companies operate, driven in particular by the development of teleworking and digital tools. Such events have had significant consequences on the labor market, both due to the unusual volume of job offers after lockdown and the new expectations of candidates. The insurance industry has not escaped this movement, which requires increased adaptation and training from recruitment professionals.

A face-to-face meeting remains a “must have” for successful recruitment

During the incarceration, recruitment activity continued despite strong restrictions thanks to video conference interviews. If an online dialogue cannot claim to provide a quality of exchange equivalent to that of a face-to-face meeting, it nevertheless makes it possible to progress in the mutual understanding of needs and expectations and can constitute a useful phase for the candidate as for the recruiter. But the full screen quickly encounters limits: it generates less committed candidates and does not make it possible to ensure complete support for the position offered. That is why the end of the confinements has resulted in a gradual return of physical meetings. Today, the return of face-to-face is primarily essential for job interviews. It testifies to a strong action on the part of the candidate, which will result in his involvement in the rest of the hiring process.

A developing recruitment market in the insurance sector

However, the situation is still different from what it was before the pandemic. First of all, the activity becomes very important again, as the numbers for 2018 are offset, even exceeded for the bosses. Many positions have opened up in insurance companies and 17,100 recruitments were made in 2021, which is a record! Coupled with a need for change among employees, this frenzy is generating a lot of movement. Alongside this volume effect, the most demanded profiles also tend to develop. Insurers are particularly looking for candidates with expertise in customer experience to establish a seamless customer relationship or predictive marketing, which requires a good command of digital tools; CDOs and CIOs also remain in high demand thanks to their solid technical data foundations: with an ever-increasing amount of data to be exploited, insurance players must have the human resources to exploit this digital wealth.

On top-of-the-range profiles, the candidate is expected to have a global understanding of the issues, an ability to ensure more cross-functional functionality to “dissolve” the operation of the company, which requires an ability to work in networks and in project form rather than on a purely hierarchical approach. Finally, there is a need for candidates who are able to promote and lead the transformation. In addition to technical skills, this challenge requires a real pedagogical talent to make people understand the reason for the measures adopted and thus avoid blockages. A wide range of skills is therefore required!

Expand your research horizons

To find these profiles, insurance players no longer hesitate to capture talent everywhere, e.g. within industry or service. It is a matter of attracting more candidates to increase the chances of landing on the rare gem, but also of avoiding mutual oxygenation and finding new ideas, to favor innovation, to achieve a different way of approaching the subjects; a requirement that is all the stronger because the hyperregulation of the activity and the proliferation of the processes it induces can lead to harmful routine behavior. This opening can also be made in the direction of atypical profiles. Candidates whose originality in the course of life, rich extra-professional experience provide a depth of insight and valuable analysis for a company. Otherness actually also rhymes with innovation and introduces new ways of thinking. Of course, this diversity must also translate into gender equality, which, when not achieved, often results in disappointing performance, especially on non-financial criteria whose importance continues to grow.

Obstacles to overcome

There are still difficulties in adapting the companies’ requirements in this tense context with the candidates’ expectations. On the employer’s side, the remuneration offered does not always correspond to the market. Positions must be calibrated to their fair market level, playing both on the fixed salary, which rewards competence, and on the variable, which rewards the achievement of goals. The aim remains to achieve a win/win approach, a recruitment company also has the role of determining this balance.

It is also necessary to ensure the responsiveness of the employer, because a hiring process that is too long, answers that do not come, risks losing the candidate who has to make another choice. On the graduate side, certain requirements can also cause problems. In other words, telecommuting, which is considered a right: some believe that the company today must adapt to the employees’ way of life. There is definitely a profit here, because if telecommuting is to continue, it must also happen without harming the proper functioning of the company and the necessary teamwork. This requires agreements that define conditions and boundaries and take into account the limitations of all employees.

The search for meaning favors mutual and communal groups

Other developments are more positive. Candidates now think more deeply before the job interview, so when they start the hiring process, they are ready and drop out less often. This reflection is supported by a demand for meaning, a reconsidered balance between professional and personal life, which brings them to previously less attractive structures. Thus, mutual and joint organizations now attract new profiles.

Their DNA, which prioritizes the values ​​of sharing, solidarity and protection, speaks to the many candidates who want to combine active life and social commitment. This question of opinion, which also turns out to be a new demand on the part of the candidate for the quality of the position, must lead to the company being transparent about the profile of the position and undertakes to integrate its new employees properly in order for the graft to be taken. On the contrary, the employee must mobilize, accept to learn to work in a different way, accept to make mistakes. There is still progress to be made in France in this area, where acceptance of the error and assuming that it is not culturally promoted.

In any case, these developments are shaping a new relationship to work for employees, and insurance players are gradually integrating this context. But inflation and the war in Ukraine could change the cards in the coming months, enough to tip the balance of power between candidates and recruiters.

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