Addressing Workers’ Comp Talent Management Concerns

By Denise Johnson | August 15, 2017

Filling workers’ compensation claims positions will require insurers to change their idea of what an ideal employee is. That’s according to Debbi Bromley, senior vice president of Human Resources at Genex.

She discussed workers’ comp hiring concerns during a recent webinar held by the national managed care provider.

Just as in other lines, a mass exodus of experienced adjusters is set to disrupt the workers’ comp claim department. Insurers will have to consider several factors when looking for new employees in a tight market, she said.

First, insurers should be ready to tell their story to attract new talent.

“I think one of the jobs we have is to tell the story of our organization and why — if you want to make a difference, if you want to enjoy the people you work with, if you want to be stimulated every day with new ideas, if you truly want to make a change in somebody’s life for the better — this is the place you may want to talk to,” said Bromley.

It’s a far cry from years past when insurers placed a want ad in the newspaper or posted a job bulletin online with bullet points of requirements.

Younger workers, especially millennials, want to feel like they are making a difference.

“I think we have to tout those things, because when you think of the work that we do every day, it’s pretty profound. We are helping people live better lives,” said Bromley. “We’re bringing people back to a place where they never thought they were going to be after a workplace injury, or we’re helping companies save money, or we’re helping people find direction for care.”

Bromley says millennials are curious, smart and engaged.

“I think we need people that care about outcomes, that claimant, or just really want to work with a good team of people and get work done,” said Bromley. “I think millennials are a good fit for our industry.”

“We’re looking for people who want to make a difference, people who are curious, who understand that problem solving isn’t ‘just what I know’ but it’s also ‘what can I learn?'”, she said.

Insurers will have to come to terms with generational challenges, she said.

“When I started in the work world, if you had a resume in front of you and it had somebody who was with a company seven years, your first question was, ‘Why are you leaving so soon?’ Now, you look at a resume, and it says seven years, and your first question is, ‘Why did you stay so long?’ So, that’s how far we’ve come in just my lifetime and I think that, because this is a mature industry, I think there might be still some baby-boomer mentality around the fact that younger generations don’t have the allegiance to a job or to a workplace that we did 30 years ago,” Bromley explained.

She said expectations must change because employees may come and go more frequently.

“You then have to strategize and plan succession planning differently for your organization, for your department or your team,” said Bromley.

The way insurers engage and recruit workers’ comp professionals will change too, she said.

“Maybe you have to recruit differently, or you have to think about how you can energize people differently to keep them around a little bit longer,” she said.

She said the idea of linear growth might not be as appealing to the next generation workers’ comp professional. Rather, future employees may be more interested in a lateral move or job swapping. Education is important too, she said.

“Can you get people to learn new things and stay a little bit longer by teaching them different aspects of the world that you’re in,” said Bromley.

She called it a balance of knowledge and inquiry.

“I think if we find people who come with a skill set, but are also willing to be curious, I think we’ll always have the right mix of people. I don’t think that’s generational,” said Bromley. “I think it’s just finding those people in every generation that want to approach work with that attitude.”

Recruiting is more relaxed now, she said.

“When I started working so many years ago, it was about going in, putting your head down, getting something done and going home, said Bromley. “You couldn’t bring it home with you. You didn’t have that span of time, you didn’t have a lot of flexibility, so your hours at work were your hours at work.”

She expects a lot of job opportunities within the next 5-10 years.

“We are a mature industry, and I think there will be opportunities, especially in the next 5 10 years. You look at the baby boomer generation, which is humongous still, and you’ve just got the middle baby boomers coming up to their early- to mid 60s.”

According to The Jacobson Group, the insurance labor market shift is accelerating as experienced employees retire and younger job prospects “remain largely unaware of the opportunities insurance careers provide.”

As a result, insurers will need to attract, retain and develop strong Millennial and Generation Z talent, said Margaret Resce Milkint, managing partner of The Jacobson Group.

“As the insurance workforce evolves, insurers must rethink their current recruitment and engagement strategies to better meet the needs of the changing labor market,” said Milkint. “The talent mandate is real and immediate. The industry must reevaluate how they attract and develop talent at all levels in order to stay competitive.”

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