The insurance sector is currently facing unprecedented challenges, one of which is filling actuarial vacancies. A leading recruiter advises on best practice
The reassuring news for businesses looking to attract talent and for those seeking new opportunities during these unfamiliar times, is that most companies have shown a resilient approach and are rising to the unique hiring challenges by continuing to interview via video conference and onboard remotely.
A minority of companies in the permanent market are implementing a two to three-month hiring pause. Where this is the case, they are doing so in order to give themselves time to adapt to these extraordinary circumstances. Similarly, companies looking for contractors tell us that any delays are temporary, as they work through logistics and teething problems.
Early feedback across the market indicates that many insurers are reacting to the ‘new norm’ by taking time to reassess hiring needs, implement new interview solutions and create remote onboarding processes before pushing ahead with business-critical hires.
While video interviewing and remote onboarding quickly becomes the norm for companies, there are still understandable fears among candidates that offers may be withdrawn and opportunities could vanish. In our experience, firms that are still recruiting are doing so because they have completed unprecedented analysis of their hiring needs and the remaining roles have been marked as ‘business-critical’.
Candidates should concentrate on their own development as people are still moving, there is confidence in the market and, if anything, the caution exercised by some prospective candidates has created less competition for a number of excellent opportunities. Our advice is to remain positive, as many companies are still hiring – but patience is essential, as interview progression may take a little longer than usual.
As companies begin to explore the unfamiliar territory of remote onboarding, there are two key factors to focus on: the all-encompassing engagement, and the emotive elements of onboarding. Of course, ensuring a clear and structured plan for the practicalities, such as having a robust IT infrastructure in place, are paramount. However, due to its nature, remote onboarding makes building that immediate rapport and trust with your new starter noticeably harder. Both of these are important cultural aspects and must not be overlooked.
Firms should be proactive and open to having transparent and consistent communication earlier and more frequently than usual. Now more than ever, people will need reassurance – especially to limit the increased risk of counteroffers during notice periods. Many companies are including new starters in virtual team quizzes and Friday drinks before their start date to help embed them into the team culture, increase buy-in and offer essential reassurance around job security. Meet-the-team virtual meetings have also been added at the end of some interview processes, enabling the candidate to meet their future colleagues and develop a sense of the culture that they may have missed during a fully remote interview process.
Once a new candidate has joined, it is important for the employer to replicate day-to-day interaction by introducing innovative virtual solutions for anything that is usually face-to-face – such as a video team lunch on their first day. Some companies are also scheduling daily morning and afternoon team meetings and coffee breaks, in order to maintain the agile working environment and give employees a sense of accountability. Many people within the team may be cautious of technological adoption – particularly junior members, due to the immediate exposure it gives them to their new colleagues – so managers should lead from the front by ensuring they are using virtual communication wherever possible. The team will soon follow suit.
It is no secret that many people will be worried about job security; it is important to focus on supporting your new starter and creating proactive engagement within the team. Both elements are imperative to achieve a successful induction. Some firms have introduced virtual yoga sessions, team cookery classes and personal training sessions to help improve wellbeing and team morale during this time. It is also vital to keep employees up to date on the health and position of the company, so they have confidence that the business is adapting well to market changes.
Ross Anderson is a principal at Oliver James
Rob Gormley is a manager at Oliver James
Laura Sharkey is a principal at Oliver James