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1 July 2024 Features Insurance

‘Please don’t leave’: how to hold on to your talent

Support employees to become as good as they can possibly be, said Kevin Hopton, head of UK talent management and performance at Sedgwick, during an Intelligent Insurer virtual panel.

Also invited were Louisa Blain, partner, head of insurance for Human Capital at Aon; Natacha Craven, chief people and communications officer at Miller Insurance; Sue Davies, chief human resources officer at Markel (which sponsored the discussion); and Jane Warren, UK branch manager and executive sponsor for diversity, equality and inclusion at Liberty, for a panel discussion on the current state of talent acquisition and retention in re/insurance.

This second report delves into successful initiatives to retain and develop talent within the re/insurance sector.

Build robust development programmes

The re/insurance sector faces continuous challenges in attracting and retaining top talent so it’s essential to implement effective retention strategies. 

“Talent attraction and retention was ranked as the number two risk, just after cyber.” Louisa Blain, Aon

Hopton kicked off the discussion by talking about the importance of structured career development programmes. “We came up with a concept called Pathfinder, which has won a few awards: the idea is to support employees to become as good as they can possibly be, offering continuous and comprehensive training and development,” he recalled. 

Hopton underlined the significance of leadership in these programmes, noting that a strong management system would ensure that these initiatives were not only implemented but also maintained and effective.

Warren echoed this sentiment, highlighting the success of the London Market Group’s initiatives.

“The London Market Group has been a game-changer in the last 18 months, offering opportunities for young people to explore careers in insurance,” she explained, adding that this initiative, along with others such as the Futures Academy and London Insurance Life, could provide blueprints for building a modern and inclusive insurance market.

“Practitioners deliver regular mentoring sessions, providing continuous support and development opportunities.” Kevin Hopton, Sedgwick

Work with others

Davies pointed out the central role of partnerships in talent retention, mentioning Markel’s partnerships with the Dive In Festival and the National African American Insurance Association as examples of how collaborations can foster a more inclusive and attractive industry environment.

“Effective partnerships can have a multiplier effect, rather than everyone working in silos.” Sue Davies, Markel

“Effective partnerships can have a multiplier effect, rather than everyone working in silos,” Davies explained.

These collaborations help to attract talent and retain it through a more inclusive and engaging workplace.

Blain added that industry surveys have highlighted the importance of talent retention:

She quoted Aon’s 2023 global risk management survey. “For the first time, talent attraction and retention was ranked as the number two risk, just after cyber,” she said.

Recognising talent management as a business-critical issue rather than just a human resources challenge highlights the urgency of developing effective retention strategies, agreed the panellists. 

 Create better environments

The panellists unanimously agreed on the importance of inclusivity in retaining talent.

Hopton shared a success story of a part-time bus driver from Glasgow who transitioned into a successful role as an adjuster.

“He loves the industry and the career change it has given him,” he remarked.

Davies stressed the role of managers in fostering an inclusive environment, saying: “Managers are key to both hiring and retention: encouraging them to be innovative and creative in their hiring practices is crucial.”

Providing global experiences through formal secondments and short-term assignments and projects could be a differentiator for new entrants and existing employees alike, Davies added.

Find people to become mentors

Mentorship programmes led by experienced practitioners play a vital role in talent retention, and Hopton described how Sedgwick’s mentorship programmes, which involve 60+ mentors, had been a success.

“Practitioners deliver regular mentoring sessions, providing continuous support and development opportunities,” he explained.

This practitioner-led approach ensures that the mentoring is practical, relevant, and deeply rooted in the industry’s day-to-day realities.

Warren also highlighted the benefits of practitioner-led initiatives, mentioning the Lloyd’s Lab and other London Market initiatives that provide access to cutting-edge developments and practical applications.

“These initiatives have been very successful in helping us use new technologies and methods in the business,” she noted.

The panel agreed that retaining talent in the re/insurance industry required a multi-faceted approach that included robust career development programmes, effective industry partnerships, inclusive work environments, and practitioner-led mentorship initiatives.

But, as Hopton concluded: “We need to transfer words into actions.”

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