This post originally ran on American Strategic.
Now more than ever young employees value a vibrant company culture — so much that it is greatly affecting company turnover rates and employee retention. One of the biggest industries that fail to create a culture that retains great employees is insurance, but why? And what can agencies do about it?
Over the coming months and years, more millennials will begin to enter the workforce at a time when many experienced insurance agents will be retiring. In the past, insurance has focused largely on sales growth, which has led many younger generations to view the industry as boring and traditional. Now, cultivating a fun and engaging company culture can benefit insurance agents of all ages and backgrounds. Here are a few key tips your agency should consider in order to build a brand that is both meaningful and full of growth potential.
1. Start at the beginning: the people you hire.
As appealing as it can be to offer your open job positions to those who have the most experience over those who have the right attitude, this could be the source of your problems. Don’t mistake a positive mindset or an upbeat personality for an inexperienced or unproductive worker.
Sometimes the biggest factors in creating a more lively company culture start with your hiring process. Look for individuals who have good moral in the beginning, rather than regretting your decision down the road when you have to let go of someone who isn’t a good culture fit.
2. Define your culture and place it at the core of your agency’s values.
If your agency has been too heavily focused on boosting sales to write up a list of values, you may want to take a step back to do so before continuing down a path without clear goals. Although every agency hopes to increase profits as much as possible, it is first important to make sure you’ll put money toward what will keep your company growing internally.
When companies value money over people, employees notice. Whether you have a meeting between your management and leader teams or you invite everyone at your agency to participate, have a discussion about what your culture should look and feel like. Put your culture into words and write out values that center around this culture.
3. Live and breathe your culture, day in and day out.
It can be easy to form a definition of your agency’s values on paper and soon forget about them if not put into practice. Have the culture you’ve imagined play a role in your daily or weekly meetings, adjust your office’s decor and set up to emulate your culture, survey your employees every quarter or ask your agents informally about their workplace experiences whenever possible. The key is to make sure you are practicing what you preach.
4. Reward and empower your team regularly.
One of the most important and simple ways to make your employees feel more satisfied with the work they do is to make them feel appreciated. Whether you have specific rewards for your office’s achievements or you verbally tell your team positive and supportive messages each day, your employees will be more likely to stay loyal to your agency and more motivated to work hard every time they come into the office if you show admiration for them.
5. Bring gifts or surprises, just because.
It is fairly common for many companies to give employees gifts around the holidays each year, but what stands out the most to people are the little surprises they didn’t expect. Try getting creative by scheduling a secret activity one Friday at the end of the day, bringing in a free meal or handing out other small gifts as a token of your gratitude for their hard work.
6. Provide opportunities for growth and furthering education.
Are there classes your agents could take that would benefit your agency’s marketing tactics? Are there books you found inspiring that your employees may enjoy having a copy of? Do you offer opportunities for your agents to grow with your company, such as management roles or leadership positions? These are all examples of ways your agency can create a culture that shows support for growing with your company and for furthering their education.
7. Gather and listen to feedback.
Possibly the most important part of this process to building an engaging company culture is to reach out to your team, gather feedback and listen to what they have to say. There’s no use in bothering to cultivate company culture if you aren’t going to make sure your agency is staying on track and is willing to evaluate itself regularly.
Be sure to provide opportunities for employees to give feedback in person and anonymously, but don’t forget you should address any concerns that spring up rather than brushing them aside. Just like your business tests strategies for improving sales before evaluating the results, you should test ways to cultivate culture and see how they worked out before determining your next steps for becoming the agency all agents want to work for.