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Latest Insurance Talent Perspectives

What Makes a Great Leader Today?

While many of the foundational characteristics that comprise a great leader have remained constant throughout the years, a new perspective and approach is required for effective leadership amid today’s shifting work environments, employee expectations and business pressures.

View our latest white paper for the 10 qualities that differentiate today’s top leaders.

Q1 2024 Insurance Labor Market Study Results

The Jacobson Group and Aon plc conduct a Semi-Annual Insurance Labor Market Study to examine industry hiring and revenue trends and projections. The findings of our Q1 2024 iteration reflect a stable – yet cautiously optimistic – industry.

Download the results to explore 2024’s staffing forecasts and hiring plans for the insurance industry.

Combatting the Finance and Accounting Talent Shortage

Faced with a shallowing pool of emerging talent and a workforce nearing retirement, finding qualified accounting and finance professionals has been an intensifying challenge for the industry. A comprehensive multi-prong approach is necessary to cultivate a workforce that can meet evolving demands and ensure operational continuity.

Read our blog post for insights on staying ahead of the growing finance and accounting talent crisis.

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Jacobson Employee Spotlight – Q2 2024

At The Jacobson Group, we take pride in the remarkable contributions of our team members. Each month, we highlight a few of our corporate employees from across the company as they share a bit about themselves and their roles.  Janet Foor Assistant Vice President and Client Relationship Manager, 25 years at Jacobson Hometown: Originally from Philadelphia, Chicago is home now Alma Mater: Penn State Describe Your Role: I serve as a client relationship manager within our professional recruiting practice, overseeing all facets of searches, including client development, candidate recruitment and the complete facilitation of the process. Last Book You Read: I just reread "To Kill a Mockingbird." Jacobson in Three Words: Collaborative, Inclusive, Professional Something You Recently Learned: Not to sweat the small stuff You Are Happiest When You Are: Spending time with family and friends Advice For Newcomers to the Industry: Patience, persistence and a good sense of humor will do you well. If You Won the Lottery, What is The First Thing You Would Do: Report for work the next morning What Inspires You to Excel in Your Role? Since I work a full recruiting desk, I get to experience a happy client and a happy candidate. It's a win/win situation. Jennifer Rigsby Operations Researcher, 3 years at Jacobson Hometown: St. Louis. One side of my family has lived in the Midwest since the 1600s. Alma Mater: Washington University in St. Louis. I studied history and anthropology. Describe Your Role: As an operations researcher, I have a dual role that combines candidate sourcing with some administrative work, such as editing and formatting documents we send to clients. Jacobson actually created this role for me based on my skills and interests, and both parts of my job have proven to complement each other well. Random Fact: I come from a history and genealogy background. When deciding whether to buy my house, I couldn't evaluate it structurally, so I researched its history instead. I found 1940s-photographs in local St. Louis newspapers showing Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York inside my house, visiting a woman who once lived there. They both came from military families and had been neighbors at two different points. I signed the papers immediately. One Professional Skill You Are Actively Learning: Recently, I've been helping compile research to support business development, exploring different resources and ways to apply information. Getting to know the depths of the insurance industry and all the functions required to run a company is a constant learning experience. I plan to start the second course of the AINS (Associate in Insurance) designation soon. Favorite Food: I started learning to cook a few years ago with meal kits. Since then, I've found it more satisfying to make my own meals versus going to restaurants. It's like a (strangely laborious and time-consuming) form of magic to transform raw ingredients into something impressive. My favorite meals are those that allow me to quickly reheat a fancy-looking lunch the next day or two; I make a lot of quiche. Last Book You Read: I read a lot, so I'll say that my favorite book of all time is "The Count of Monte Cristo," and my favorite read this year was "Night Film" by Marisha Pessl. The last book I finished was "I Have Some Questions for You" by Rebecca Makkai, which was recommended by someone at Jacobson. I recommend it in turn. My favorite Jacobson activity is our quarterly book club, as talking about books is a fun way to connect with other Jacobson employees. I really love that we have that. In Your Time at Jacobson, What Has Been Your Favorite Project? I love working on something new or complicated. It can sometimes be a steep learning curve at the beginning, but ultimately, I know that's when the most improvement in my overall work happens. Agnes Capron Contracts and Compliance Manager, 2 years at Jacobson Hometown: Jersey City, New Jersey Alma Mater: The University of Massachusetts Amherst Describe Your Role: As a contracts and compliance manager, I oversee the daily operations of our legal department. My responsibilities include reviewing and facilitating the negotiation of contracts with clients, as well as managing contracts with vendors. Last Show You Binge-Watched: "3 Body Problem" on Netflix Jacobson in Three Words: Home, Team, Collaborative What Inspires You to Excel in Your Role? My desire to always be and do better Favorite Restaurant: I love Cuban and Filipino food. One Professional Skill You Are Actively Developing: I am currently enrolled at Villanova University, taking a class on government contract management. Advice For Newcomers to the Industry: Always be curious. Wanting to know the "why" keeps me constantly learning, improving my skills, and obtaining new ones. The industry is constantly shifting, and you have to stay current to add value wherever you go. My innate curiosity has served me well throughout my career. Random Fact: I am obsessed with true crime and legal shows. Don’t be surprised if I’m watching a police interrogation of a suspect on YouTube at this very moment. You Are Happiest When You Are: Swimming at the beach Something You Recently Learned: It's never too late to learn something new. View previous editions of our Employee Spotlight. For monthly Employee Spotlights, follow our Facebook page. 

June 2024: Labor Market PULSE

In May, the overall U.S. economy hit its highest unemployment rate since January 2022. Conversely, unemployment for the insurance carriers and related activities sector dropped 0.6 percentage points, to 1.8%. U.S. job openings hit a three-year low in April*, while job openings within finance and insurance slightly increased. The industry is also experiencing a voluntary quits rate of 0.9% - the lowest since April 2020, according to the BLS. In the past couple months, we’ve noted an increasing reluctance among professionals when it comes to changing roles. This makes it even more important to focus on engagement to avoid “quiet quitting” and maintain productivity. For more on avoiding burnout within your team, view our recent blog post. AT-A-GLANCE NUMBERS Unemployment for the insurance carriers and related activities sector decreased to 1.8% in May. The insurance carriers and related activities sector gained 4,800 jobs in May. At more than 3 million jobs, industry employment increased by approximately 37,800 jobs compared to May 2023. The U.S. unemployment rate slightly increased to 4% in May and the overall economy added 257,000 jobs. INDUSTRY HIGHLIGHTS On a year-to-year basis, April* insurance industry employment saw job increases in agents/brokers (up 2.5%), reinsurance (up 2.3%), TPAs (up 1.5%), life/health (up 1%), and property and casualty (up 0.6%).  Meanwhile, jobs decreased in title (down 3.2%) and claims (down 1.4%). On a year-to-year basis, April* saw weekly wage increases across all areas: title (up 13.3%), agents/brokers (up 10.8%), TPAs (up 9.8%), reinsurance (up 9.8%), life/health (up 4.6%), claims (up 3.7%), and property and casualty (up 2.8%). BLS Reported Adjustments: Adjusted employment numbers for April show the industry saw an increase of 6,200 jobs, compared to the previously reported increase of 8,100 jobs. The BLS continues to revise numbers to be most accurate, which may contribute to inconsistencies, depending on when reports were pulled. *The BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report and reports on wages and employment for the industry category are only available for two months prior. The source for the data represented in PULSE is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Insurance data is derived from the insurance carriers and related activities sector.

Managing Employee Burnout: Tips for Summer and Beyond

As managers, acknowledging the need for a healthy work-life balance is essential – especially as we enter the summer months. Many professionals are balancing vacations, family events, kids at home, and much more along with their standard work responsibilities. While it’s essential to be sensitive to potential employee burnout year-round, the summer tends to create an environment where PTO is more common, workweeks may be shorter, and priorities compete – often causing more stress than relaxation. More than half of professionals are experiencing at least moderate levels of burnout, according to a recent Aflac study. Unmanageable workloads, unclear communication, lack of support and unrealistic expectations are just a few factors that can lead to feelings of burnout. This can have significant consequences on your team’s productivity and ability to meet your business goals. Employees who are burned out are 63% more likely to take sick time and 2.6 times more likely to actively explore other employment opportunities. Approaching employees’ work-life balance through a human lens can help provide the space for employees to recharge, while increasing productivity and overall job satisfaction.   Below are a few ways to reduce burnout among your team members not just in the summer, but all year long: Plan ahead. In insurance, there are known busy seasons – such as open enrollment or CAT season. Plan hiring accordingly so that when spikes come, you are prepared to manage the additional workload without overwhelming your employees. Often, full-time individuals already have a full plate, meaning when things get busy, the extra work just piles on top. By planning ahead, you can enlist the help of qualified interim staff to help ease an influx of work and enable your full-time employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Set reasonable expectations. Along with planning for anticipated spikes in workloads, be reasonable in how you handle the unexpected. If someone leaves the organization, how will you manage that gap? Too often, managers default to expecting the rest of the team to absorb the loss. Be strategic and intentional in thinking through what tasks can be postponed, what could be given to temporary employees, and what could be a development opportunity for another individual. If you do transition responsibilities, talk to your employees about how you can shift their existing workload to avoid overburdening them. Find opportunities to connect. Especially in remote environments, it can be difficult to build a sense of connection and camaraderie among team members. Those in individual contributor roles are also more prone to feeling isolated and disconnected, given their positions don’t regularly interact with others. Create an environment where communication and collaboration are the norm and provide the space to establish relationships that lead to healthy conversations around shared work experiences. This could mean scheduling informal breakout discussions to connect those who may not otherwise cross paths or hosting periodic in-office meetings. Provide flexibility. New terms are emerging in the corporate world such as “quiet vacationing,” where individuals don’t feel comfortable formally asking for time off – be it for vacations, appointments or family obligations. In fact, 40% of millennials share they’ve taken time off without notifying their manager, according to a recent Harris poll. Recognize that employees are people with personal responsibilities and lives outside of work. Be flexible when you can to help build trust and transparency, while reducing unnecessary stress. Encourage breaks. Even if your company has a generous PTO policy, your organizations’ culture and attitude toward breaks will influence whether employees are truly able to disconnect. Three out of four workers wish their workplace culture more strongly emphasized the value of breaks and time off. Create a culture where taking time off is encouraged and disconnecting while on PTO is the norm. Even if you as a manager are not actively taking time off, make sure your employees know you support these breaks and the opportunity for them to recharge. Respect communication boundaries. If you appear to be “always on” and are sending emails, texts or chat messages after hours, think about any unintentional pressures or consequences you may be putting on your team. Even if you’re not expecting an answer until the next day, you risk interrupting their evenings and causing them to shift their mindsets from home to work when a notification appears. As much as you can, postpone pressing send until working hours. Make one-on-ones about more than performance. Use your one-on-one time with employees to get to know them outside of projects and deadlines. Building personal connections can help increase engagement and also enable you to better recognize the warning signs of early burnout. Ask how they’re doing and feeling, and focus on building a relationship that is less transactional than solely reviewing project progress.   Have ongoing conversations around benefits. Many companies proudly tout their benefits and perks during the hiring and onboarding process, but then the conversation stops. Highlight your organization’s benefits more frequently and encourage individuals to take advantage of what your company offers. Additionally, ensure your HR team is taking a holistic view in understanding what is important to current employees and structuring benefit offerings accordingly. Employee burnout may be common, but in many cases it’s avoidable. Be genuine in connecting with your team members, provide them with flexibility, encourage time off, and set clear and realistic expectations around workloads. By supporting individuals to the best of your ability, you’ll be positioned to identify, navigate and ultimately mitigate employee burnout.

Remote, Hybrid or In-Person: What’s Best for Your Organization?

In today's world, there's no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to where and how work gets done. Remote and hybrid work continue to be prevalent within the industry, and some professionals haven’t stepped into their corporate office space in more than four years. Our Q1 2024 Insurance Labor Market Study found just 6% of insurers have implemented full-time in-person work for the majority of their staff; yet, an additional 76% are expecting most employees in the office at least once a week. Below we’ve outlined the benefits and challenges of each work setup, as a resource for your use as you make adjustments to best support your unique business goals.  Remote/Hybrid/In-Person: At-a-Glance Benefits and Challenges A More In-Depth Look While the above chart presents a high-level view of potential benefits and challenges, it’s important to focus on how they will impact your specific organization or team.  In-Person The traditional, in-person office environment has a number of benefits rooted in more personal relationships, connections and collaboration. As an employer, it’s easier to have daily visibility, understand work styles, and gain transparency into how and when work is being done. Being able to walk over to a colleague’s desk to ask a question or collaborate on a project can help enhance efficiency and facilitate real-time decision-making. There’s often more interaction across departments, as well as opportunities to have impromptu conversations and brainstorming sessions. Shadowing and feedback may happen more organically, as employees can learn from sitting in on conversations and meetings that may not otherwise be possible.  However, these in-office conversations and interruptions may decrease individuals’ daily productivity and output. Additionally, the majority of today’s workforce remains hesitant to take a fully in-person position and may leave their current roles if asked to come into the office even a few days a week. Local candidate pools continue to shrink as companies compete with remote organizations, and access to specialized skill sets is limited. Hybrid Hybrid work may seem like a happy medium between being fully in the office and fully remote; however, it’s important to think through how it will translate for your organization. Employees who are local may enjoy the opportunity to structure their work weeks in a way that promotes work-life balance, while also reaping the benefits of periodically going into an office. For instance, teams may work autonomously most of the week and schedule meetings and time for collaboration during one or two days in the office.  Yet, even in hybrid environments, there are challenges that need to be addressed. If some employees are working in the office and others are remote, it can be difficult to ensure equal opportunities and inclusivity. Time zones and work hours can also become misaligned, making it challenging to schedule meetings and regularly collaborate. Additionally, asking individuals to come into the office even once a week can limit candidate pools as severely as fully in-person work.  Remote We saw many companies pivot to fully remote work during the pandemic and several are still maintaining this environment. There’s no doubt this option removes geographic boundaries and provides organizations with access to talent across all locations and skill sets. Some companies have given up their physical office spaces completely, saving on rent and other overhead expenses. However, we’ve also seen employers struggle with innovation and collaboration in these environments. It’s essential to be intentional about culture and connecting individuals across locations. Work-life boundaries are also at risk of being blurred, leading to potential burnout, decreased productivity and lack of engagement. What’s right for you? As you determine what is best for your team and/or organization, asking the following questions can help ensure you’re set up for success, regardless of your chosen work environment.  Does your chosen work model align with your company's culture and values? Does a specific role need to be performed in the office every day to be effective?  Will certain environments negatively or positively impact employee morale and retention efforts?  Are you able to effectively establish and grow a sense of connection and belonging among employees? How will you foster effective communication, collaboration and innovation? In what ways will you ensure accountability and productivity? Do you have the tools and technology in place for seamless communication and collaboration? How will you support business goals while promoting work-life balance? Will there be limitations on your talent pool, and if so, how will you adapt? Each work model presents its own set of advantages and challenges. However, by taking a thoughtful and strategic approach, you’ll be best prepared to create a space where your teams feel valued and are able to collaborate, communicate and thrive.

May 2024: Labor Market Pulse

The unemployment rate for insurance carriers and related activities rose by .7 percentage points in April, yet hovers around 2%, consistent with the past several months. Industry employment also increased – adding more than 8,000 jobs after hitting the 3 million mark in March. The latest JOLTS report revised February job openings within the larger finance and insurance category, with new numbers showing 515,000 open jobs – a current record high. March* job openings also remained high, despite dropping to 365,000. We’re continuing to see an uptick in hybrid work situations, with companies asking employees to be in the office a few days a week. As insurers settle into these environments, having the right leaders in place is essential. View our recent Compass feature article on the characteristics and traits for today’s great leaders. AT-A-GLANCE NUMBERS INDUSTRY HIGHLIGHTS On a year-to-year basis, March* insurance industry employment saw job increases in claims (up 4.1%), reinsurance (up 3%), agents/brokers (up 2.9%), TPAs (up 1.6%), and life/health (up 1.1%).  Meanwhile, jobs decreased in title (down 3.2%) and property and casualty (down 0.1%). On a year-to-year basis, March* saw weekly wage increases across all areas: title (up 14.9%), agents/brokers (up 9.8%), TPAs (up 9.7%), reinsurance (up 8%), life/health (up 5.6%), property and casualty (up 2.4%), and claims (up 0.9%).           BLS Reported Adjustments: Adjusted employment numbers for March show the industry saw an increase of 1,800 jobs, compared to the previously reported decrease of 300 jobs. The BLS continues to revise numbers to be most accurate, which may contribute to inconsistencies, depending on when reports were pulled. *The BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report and reports on wages and employment for the industry category are only available for two months prior. The source for the data represented in PULSE is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Insurance data is derived from the insurance carriers and related activities sector.

Five Tips for Success in Today’s Multigenerational Workplace

With older workers delaying retirement and younger talent quickly becoming a substantial portion of the labor pool, how can you engage multi-generational teams and set them up for successful working relationships? In our recent issue of Compass, Judy Busby, senior vice president of executive search and corporate strategy, and Rachel McColister, client advisor, offer insights into building a culture that focuses on connecting members of each generation and leveraging their unique attributes. Below are five key takeaways from their feature article, "Embracing Multigenerational Dynamics in Today’s Workplace." 1. View generational commonalities as guidelines, not absolutes.  While generational variances often serve as a starting point for understanding colleagues' behaviors and preferences, it's important to acknowledge that individuals are shaped by a multitude of factors beyond their generational affiliations. Life stages, values, work styles, personality types and much more influence individuals’ preferences and behaviors at work. 2. Promote cross-generational engagement.  Encouraging interactions among team members of all generations can help dissolve any existing biases and stereotypes, while enhancing collaboration. Whether through buddy pairings, informal get-to-know-you meetings or cross-generational project groups, intentionally promoting these interactions allows individuals to better understand each other’s unique strengths and enhances overall team synergy. 3. Support mentorship opportunities. Formal mentorship programs are another effective way to facilitate connections and knowledge-sharing among employees of different age groups and life stages. By providing the space and support for mentoring relationships – especially ones that are multi-tiered and multigenerational – organizations can further break down barriers, avoid misunderstandings, and foster a sense of community and camaraderie. 4. Alleviate tensions through a culture of curiosity and open-minded communication. Tensions often arise in workplaces spanning multiple generations, fueled by assumptions, lack of perspective and generational stereotypes. Encourage team members to strive to better understand different viewpoints and find common ground by asking questions such as “can you help me understand why?” and “can you tell me more?” 5. Determine what energizes each individual. Especially for younger generations, desired career growth and movement may not always follow a traditional linear path. It's crucial to delve into what drives each employee and empower them to thrive in their own way. Understand their values, motivators and career aspirations to tailor opportunities accordingly. By celebrating the collective strengths of all employees, no matter their life stage, teams will be equipped to better navigate multigenerational divides and foster strong working relationships rooted in mutual respect and understanding. View the full article for additional ways to reduce generational friction and enable your teams to best work together in today’s environment.  For more talent insights, delivered to your inbox each quarter, subscribe to our Compass newsletter.

April 2024: Labor Market Pulse

Unemployment continues to drop within the insurance industry, hitting 1.7% in March. At the same time, job openings are rising within the larger finance and insurance sector, with an average of 428,000 openings in January and February*. This is tracking above 2022’s record annual high of 393,000. Voluntary quits are also slightly increasing, hitting their highest level since January 2023, while hiring levels remain relatively consistent. Within the overall U.S. economy, job growth accelerated in the first quarter of 2024. The U.S. unemployment rate also slightly decreased from 3.9% in February to 3.8% in March. If you’re one of the many companies aiming to fill open roles, our most recent edition of Recruiter Report shares questions to help best assess candidates and make the most of interviews. AT-A-GLANCE NUMBERS INDUSTRY HIGHLIGHTS On a year-to-year basis, February* insurance industry employment saw job increases in claims (up 5.5%), agents/brokers (up 3.2%), reinsurance (up 2.6%), life/health (up 1.2%), and TPAs (up 1.1%).  Meanwhile, jobs decreased in title (down 4.5%) and property and casualty (down 0.4%). On a year-to-year basis, February* saw weekly wage increases across all areas: title (up 12.9%), agents/brokers (up 9.8%), TPAs (up 9.2%), reinsurance (up 7.4%), life/health (up 4.3%), property and casualty (up 3.7%), and claims (up 1.9%).   BLS Reported Adjustments: Adjusted employment numbers for February show the industry saw an increase of 900 jobs, compared to the previously reported increase of 2,000 jobs. The BLS continues to revise numbers to be most accurate, which may contribute to inconsistencies, depending on when reports were pulled. *The BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report and reports on wages and employment for the industry category are only available for two months prior. The source for the data represented in PULSE is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Insurance data is derived from the insurance carriers and related activities sector.

Combatting the Finance and Accounting Talent Shortage

Amid a shallowing pool of emerging talent and a workforce nearing retirement age, finding qualified individuals to fill open accounting and finance roles has been an intensifying challenge for insurers. Roughly 340,000 accountants and auditors in the United States have left their jobs in the past five years, which equates to a decline of 17%. Perhaps not surprisingly, our Q1 2024 Insurance Labor Market Study saw recruiting difficulty for accounting positions reach its highest level in the study’s 15-year history. Current State of Accounting Talent The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 4% growth within the accounting and auditing sector by 2032, representing the addition of 67,400 new jobs – slightly higher than the average predicted growth rate of 3% for all occupations. However, 76% of U.S. CFOs say they are facing a significant talent shortage within their finance and accounting teams. This is further compounded by an aging workforce; according to the BLS, 28% of accountants and auditors are over the age of 55, with a median age of 44.9. It’s estimated that almost 75% of Certified Public Accountants met the retirement age in 2020.  Additionally, the talent pipeline continues to decrease, with fewer students pursuing accounting degrees, amid increasing costs and education commitments. Following the pandemic, overall undergraduate enrollment had a two-year decline of 9.4%, the largest drop in 50 years. Within the accounting major, the number of students completing bachelor’s degrees fell 7.8% during the 2021-2022 school year. First-time candidates sitting for the CPA exam has also decreased, dropping by 33% from 2016-2021.  Along with the decline in overall college enrollment and accounting majors, a variety of other factors are potentially deterring students from the field. These include the perception of accounting as “boring,” lower compensation compared to other fields, anticipated long hours and a lack of diversity. Furthermore, those aiming to earn their CPA designation face an additional 150-hour barrier to entry. The youngest members of the workforce are also changing jobs more frequently than their predecessors, exploring different careers and companies. In fact, 83% of Generation Z workers identify as job hoppers, with just 13% saying they intend to stay with their employer for more than four years. However, the youngest cohort in the workforce is not alone. More than half of finance professionals are considering making a move in 2024. What Insurers Can Do In response to a diminishing accounting and finance talent pool, it is important to prioritize attracting new talent to the field, while also providing ongoing professional development and reskilling opportunities to your current staff. As you revisit your recruitment and development strategies, be mindful of individuals’ shifting expectations and how you can best promote how a career in accounting can meet their long-term professional goals.  Insurers with generous work-at-home policies and a demonstrated commitment to work-life balance will appeal to a broader talent pool across all professional levels. As you engage emerging talent, showcase your company’s unique corporate values and benefits, including your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion; sustainability efforts; and social responsibility initiatives. Focus on how your accounting department is influencing business decisions, being innovative in its use of technology, and contributing to the organization’s success. Leverage platforms such as the Insurance Careers Movement to connect with young professionals and highlight your company’s employer brand, as well as the exciting opportunities available within the industry. To ensure a loyal and engaged workforce, it’s important to support your team’s career ambitions and provide a clear vision of their future within your organization. Sixty-three percent of finance and accounting professionals exploring other opportunities cite promotion and career advancement as their main motivators. Take the time to understand the goals of each team member and develop individualized professional development plans that align with their aspirations. Clearly communicating the available career paths and emphasizing how new responsibilities are enhancing their skill sets ensure your employees feel heard and supported. Moreover, investing in upskilling and reskilling initiatives fosters a culture of continuous learning and enables staff to stay relevant in a rapidly changing industry. Promoting internal career mobility not only cultivates employee loyalty but also empowers you to leverage existing talent to effectively address skills gaps. Filling the Immediate Talent Gaps With accounting and finance positions becoming increasingly challenging to fill, many insurers are turning to contract interim experts to address their more immediate needs. In critical accounting roles, a deep understanding of the intricacies of the insurance business can be invaluable. Additionally, leveraging the expertise of a staffing firm, particularly one with a focus on the insurance industry, provides access to a bench of highly-skilled, insurance-knowledgeable professionals. This ranges from fractional executives capable of bridging the gap until a direct hire is made to accounting and finance experts suited for special projects and short-term assignments. Moreover, many organizations are exploring the strategy of “lifting and shifting” talent and enlisting external support to supplement internal resources. This allows the latter to focus on other essential initiatives. Amid the finance and accounting talent shortage, adopting a fresh multi-prong approach is essential for maintaining operational continuity and cultivating a workforce equipped to meet evolving demands. Attracting young professionals and investing in continuous employee development cultivates a relevant and engaged team, while leveraging interim experts can provide immediate relief to pressing staffing needs.

Recruiter Report: Asking the Right Interview Questions

The current hiring environment requires swift action to secure top talent. Companies are streamlining their recruiting processes and expediting offers to ensure they don’t miss out on the right candidates. This accelerated timeline places added pressure on hiring managers and recruiters to conduct thorough interviews that accurately gauge a candidate’s fit in just a few interactions. In this edition of Recruiter Report, we’re answering the question, What are the most valuable questions to ask during an interview While all managers and recruiters likely have their own set of preferred questions, I’m sharing my list of universally valuable questions drawn from my extensive career as a recruiter. General Interview Questions: How would your current/past manager describe you and your work ethic? (For leadership positions, also ask “how would your current team describe you and your management style?) This question serves as a window into the candidate’s interpersonal skills and work dynamics. It helps discern whether they thrive in collaborative settings or prefer independent work. Are they a collaborator who builds strong working relationships or do they excel in an individual contributor role? For managerial roles, asking how their team perceives them sheds light on their leadership style, ability to delegate effectively and the type of work environment they foster. This question will ultimately help you ensure the candidate’s work approach will complement your existing team and align with the role’s requirements. Here is a list of 10 tasks that need to be completed: [list]. Unfortunately, you know you can only get to three of them today. What do you do? This question helps you understand both the candidate’s decision-making process and work prioritization skills. It also assesses their ability to handle stress and make informed choices under pressure, both critical aspects of problem-solving. Moreover, it will provide you insight into the candidate’s adaptability in overcoming challenges in the workplace. Are you interviewing anywhere else? Unless a candidate is truly passive and has been proactively approached by your organization, this question serves as a valuable gauge of their approach to job searching and their motivation to make a career move. You can uncover their priorities, preferences and commitment to finding the right opportunity. If a candidate is currently unemployed and responds that they are not interviewing elsewhere, this could be a potential red flag, signaling lack of motivation or unrealistic job expectations. If you have an urgent problem to solve and your manager is unavailable, what steps do you take to resolve the issue and accomplish what needs to be done? Responses to this question reveal a candidate’s ability to navigate challenges autonomously and their resourcefulness in seeking solutions and assistance when faced with obstacles. Particularly relevant in remote or hybrid work settings, it assesses their readiness to tackle time-sensitive tasks independently. By gauging the candidate’s approach to problem-solving in the absence of direct supervision, you can assess their level of initiative, ownership and adaptability.  If you were a color, what color would you be and why? This is just one of many unconventional questions designed to assess a candidate’s ability to think on their feet and respond creatively and confidently. It also provides a glimpse into how seriously they take themselves and their reaction to unexpected situations. You may have your own favorite untraditional question. Their response to this specific one provides insight into their character traits, values and potential fit within your organizational culture. What qualities do you bring to this role? This question encourages candidates to articulate the unique skills, experiences and attributes they believe are valuable to both the role in question and your organization. Their ability to effectively communicate these attributes and highlight relevant qualifications demonstrates their level of preparedness for the interview. Furthermore, you can gain insight into their approach to self-reflection and personal development. Management-specific Interview Questions: What type of team environment do you prefer to lead? When interviewing future managers, assessing their compatibility with the existing team culture is crucial for maintaining team morale and productivity. Their responses can also reveal their ability to integrate smoothly into your established workflows and team dynamics. This insight allows you to gauge if there will be a seamless transition free of disruptions or conflicts. Can you discuss the size of the teams you’ve previously led and the leadership styles you've employed? This question provides you with a comprehensive understanding of a candidate’s ability to manage teams of varying sizes and dynamics, inclusive of diverse personalities and work styles. You can discover how they approach challenging situations and address performance issues within their teams. By learning about how they support struggling team members, whether through coaching or implementing performance plans, you gain a clearer picture of their leadership style and their capacity to foster growth and development within their team.  Interview Reminders: In any interview, the goal is to walk away with a clearer understanding of the candidate's fit for the role and organization. To achieve this, going beyond surface-level questions and engaging in meaningful dialogue is key. Here are some tips to help you navigate interviews effectively: Approach the interview with a clear understanding of the information you seek. If you need a candidate to be more specific about their response or if you were looking for a different angle on a question, ask. Make the interview conversational and don’t hesitate to ask follow-up questions to delve deeper. Most candidates are able to clearly articulate high-level answers. Exploring their responses further by requesting examples or specifics will provide greater insight. Balance traditional and unconventional questions to gain a well-rounded view of the candidate. While standard questions assess qualifications, unique ones can uncover creativity and cultural alignment, offering a holistic view of the candidate’s suitability for your open role and organization. Expand beyond work-related inquiries. Ask about the candidate’s hobbies and interests outside of work to establish a more personal connection. This not only enhances engagement, but also provides a glimpse into their personality beyond professional accomplishments. In today’s competitive landscape, posing thoughtful and purpose-driven interview questions from the onset is critical to securing the right talent for your organization. By approaching interviews with clarity, curiosity, and a blend of traditional and unconventional questions, you can quickly uncover whether the candidate possesses the qualities and attributes that truly matter for your role and organization. Curious to see other hiring managers' perspectives on must-ask interview questions? Click below to view our LinkedIn poll. For more recruiting best practices, view our past editions of Recruiter Report.