Insurance brokering can be a lonely occupation. Many brokers run small, one-man operations. But when the time comes to bring new staff on board, it’s important to make certain you find recruits who fit your business.
Company culture is a bit of a nebulous concept, but Hays Insurance director Jane McNeill says cultural fit both from an employer and employee perspective is one of the most important criteria when it comes to hiring or joining a company.
“By considering not only a candidate’s technical skills but their cultural and team fit, an organization is far more likely to get recruitment right the first time. There are countless cases where a potential candidate may look impressive on their resume and excel in the required technical skills, but ultimately fails to fit in with the team or align with the organization’s way of doing business, its values and its belief system,” McNeill says.
“In these cases, their actual on-the-job behaviour is inconsistent with the values and expectations of the team they are working with and the organization as a whole. They are then not able to make the best possible contribution and this can be costly to the organization.”
Canvassing for candidates
Finding any candidates – let alone the right ones – can be a task in itself. Sorting through CVs can seem like an onerous task. After all, anyone can make themselves sound good on paper. This is where a recruitment agency can help separate the wheat from the chaff. Carla Pibworth of Pathways, a recruitment agency specializing in brokerage industries, says brokerages have unique needs when it comes to new hires that traditional recruitment agencies may not understand.
“I’ve produced a fact find document that asks what they’re looking for in terms of clientele, the business they’re expected to write, the stress levels involved. The placement of those brokers is really important. I fact find right down to the nitty gritty of what people are looking for rather than, ‘I’d like a broker please,’” Pibworth, a former broker herself, focuses on thoroughly screening applicants to ensure she only delivers qualified candidates to brokerages. She says she helps potential brokers tick all the administrative boxes – including association membership, training and licensing – before trying to place them with a brokerage.
“The time used for going away and doing their training, and then taking a few days to do their courses and assessments is all time taken away from writing business. So if I can deliver candidates to the interview process who already have those essential qualities, then they can start being trained in terms of client time, product knowledge and accreditation, and they can be sitting in on interviews as opposed to more training,” she says.
Finding the right fit
Personality testing can be a vital part of ensuring the staff you hire both fit the culture of your company, and stick around for the long haul. Recruiting employees who are the right fit for your company is easier said than done – so it is not surprising that the use of psychometric testing to screen job applications is on the increase, even for non-client facing roles.
Understanding how to optimize personality – or psychometric – tests can help you find employees with specific traits that are best suited to the position you’re trying to fill, Paul Forti, from U.S.- based PCM Management Consultants, said in a recent interview. He listed the following points as essential to keep in mind to ensure the effective use of psychometric tests:
Make sure they’re legal:
Not all tests are equal in the eyes of the law. If a test is not properly created or administered, it could be considered discriminatory. Hiring an experienced personality testing firm or consultant can also mitigate your risk, but that can end up costing a lot of money – depending on the scope of the testing, number of employees, and type of test administered.
Create a detailed job description:
It’s critical to understand the job for which you’re hiring before you apply the test. If you need a salesperson who is outgoing and good with people, you’re going to be looking for a different personality type than someone who works with numbers in the office all day.
Choose the test that measures what you need:
There are many different personality tests available to employers, measuring everything from morality and integrity to whether a person is an introvert or extrovert. Be sure that you’re measuring the criteria you need for the position you wish to fill – or you’re wasting your time.
Be aware of the test’s limits:
While reputable tests can tell you what personality traits a person has, the tests can’t tell you whether the person will succeed in the job. Work environment, management style, corporate culture, practical experience and training all have significant impact on the performance of an employee. A test can tell you some things about an individual, but it should not be used in place of extensive interviewing and reference checking.
McNeill says while many employers are turning to psychometric testing to explore a candidate’s ethical behaviour, preferences and motivation, it is important to remember they are not a cure-all solution. Rather, a person’s track record remains one of the best predictors of their future performance and is something that can be explored in face-to-face behavioural-based interviewing.
“Behavioural interviews allow you to see how a candidate approaches various work situations and whether their behaviour matches the way your organization conducts business. You can also then see if the candidate’s attitudes and behaviours are shared by your business,” McNeill says.
“We recommend behavioural-based interviewing in order to determine how a candidate acted in a previous role, which gives an indication of their future performance. This provides deep insights when attempting to uncover their integrity and standards of business conduct.”
“These interviews can also help determine the ethics of a candidate and identify not only the technical skills you want but also their integrity and standards of business conduct. Pay attention to any red flags during an interview, such as if a candidate is evasive, tries to control the interview or is argumentative. This provides an insight into their professional conduct.
Keeping quality people
Finding good staff is of little use if you can’t keep them. Staff retention can be tricky in mortgage broking, with brokers looking to strike out on their own as they gain more skills and build up their own client contacts. But Richard Manthell of recruitment company Robert Walters says providing a path for career progression can keep new recruits around for the long haul.
“Organizations need to recognize career progression as a major motivator and make the most of every opportunity to promote their brand as an employer of choice throughout the recruitment process. Not doing so is a wasted marketing opportunity.”
Research from the company suggests that the best professionals want to join organizations where good career progression is offered, Manthell says. “So, from the moment a potential employee reads a job advertisement through to when they sign their employment contract, they should feel that their future career progression is a priority for your organization.”
If this is done successfully, not only will it be easier to source quality professionals but also easier to retain them, Manthell adds.
A recent Robert Walter report offered the following key lessons for companies looking to retain quality staff:
Recognise career progression as a motivator:
Having something to aspire to and achieve is a major personal motivator for many. Presenting pathways to progression is just as important as any other aspect of a role.
Make first impressions count:
The job-seeking process is often the first contact with a brand, and the first impression is formed by the job advertisement. Ensure your job advertisement presents a persuasive, accurate reﬂection of a role and what the organization can offer. Not taking the time to include some basic information on what progression opportunities are available is a wasted branding opportunity.
Career progression is not always a promotion:
Education, training and professional development is the most sought-after career progression offering – so ensure they are articulated and on offer from the start.
Overpromising and not delivering leads to staff disengagement, and also damages your employer brand. Being honest about what you can offer and what candidates can expect, as well as following through on progression opportunities will ensure you recruit and retain the best candidate for longer. Make sure expectations are aligned from the beginning of the recruitment process.
Set consistent organizational standards and development programs:
Career progression programs should include one or more of the following: development planning, talent identification, performance feedback, internal mobility, and training and development.
Provide tools to manage career progression:
Give your employees the opportunity, and encouragement, to take control of their own careers. Give them the necessary tools and feedback to progress and support their goals. Performance reviews and development planning are vital to this process, but ensure goals are measurable and that the individual is accountable.