Ensuring that your company is set to meet the workforce needs of today is one thing. It’s also crucially important for organizations to be ready to meet the workforce demands of tomorrow too.

Three clear ways that companies can future-proof its workforce is to develop a strong program of internships, improve employee development, and focus on creating a strong employer brand.

Shifting demographics dictate the need for change

It is the changing demographics of the insurance industry workforce that should be prompting organizations to act now to ensure that they meet future workforce demands. Of course, the insurance and risk management sector is not alone on this – but it is a sector that, as has been widely reported, faces a considerable challenge as so many employees reach retirement age over the next couple of years.

Vacancies up: Candidate pool shrinks

In the coming years, the insurance sector will see the number of vacancies rise as the demographic shift occurs. It is going to become incredibly expensive to source suitably qualified professionals in such a challenging market as the talent pool tightens.

Therefore it is vital that employers ramp up the hiring of interns and entry-level employees, whilst simultaneously reviewing their employee development and retention strategies.

The choices are to hire from competitors, acquire teams or entire organizations and/or to develop talent in-house, primarily by expanding the number of entry-level hires and internship programs.

This is a serious issue. However, the way that companies are preparing for the challenges ahead is mixed, to say the least. Many companies are acting fast and have moved aggressively to address future staffing needs – but others appear to have done very little.

The ever-important employer brand

The employer brand is becoming more important in all sectors. A company that people would like to work for and the company that is likely to gain a competitive advantage are likely to be one and the same thing. This seems glaringly obvious to observers, including potential employees.

Some companies are leading from the front when it comes to developing their employer brand and internship/hiring strategies in tandem. One such organization is AIG. Its 10-week program for summer interns is highly regarded and AIG has waxed lyrical about the importance of such programs, even offering sound advice to other companies: These Seven Tips Can Help Strengthen Your Company’s Internship Program.

The company is also doing much to cultivate an impressive employer brand. AIG has enlisted its greatest assets and ambassadors to help in this quest. The AIG website has a section entitled Life at AIG and this features a section which gives visitors the opportunity to “Hear from AIG Employees.” A series of informative videos, starring AIG staff have titles such as What Does Innovation Mean To Us? How Can I Develop My Career at AIG? – There’s also one that addresses the impending recruitment shortage in the insurance industry: Why Is Working In Insurance Exciting?

Companies would be wise to look at the approach that companies such as AIG are taking if they want to meet workforce demands in the future.  HR leaders would be well advised to evaluate their own recruitment and retention strategies.  Look closely at what is being done to develop, encourage and promote your key employees and those viewed as “high value.” 

These high-value employees are already in great demand and likely fielding recruiting calls from your competitors on a regular basis.  Will they answer the call?  Do you know how happy, satisfied or comfortable your key employees are?  Is your compensation as competitive as it needs to be or are you just planning to make a counteroffer when the time comes?  Do you have a plan for how you intend to help your employees continue to learn and grow? 

The time is now to be thinking about these things.  You have a short window before the baby boomer retirement numbers kick into the tune of 100’s of thousands in the next few years.  This is me saying yes, “The sky is falling!”  Ignore this message and risk the viability of your own job if you are the HR leader of your organization. 

If you work for a company that is not taking major steps to ramp up their recruiting and retention strategies, you can look forward to longer hours and more stress so take your vacations while you still can.