Canadian Underwriter

Key components of a successful talent-acquisition strategy

September 15, 2022   by Jason Contant

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Canadian P&C companies should use data analytics for their talent acquisition (TA) strategies just as they do in other parts of the business, a speaker told Wednesday’s Reuters Events’ Future of Insurance Canada 2022 conference.

“The traditional recruitment model is… a ‘post-and-pray’ model,” said Jessica Lee, senior talent partnerships and programs specialist with Westland Insurance. “You have your job, you post it and you pray the right person will come into your organization. And it works, obviously, but again, with this whole war on talent, if this is all you’re doing, you’re going to be behind.”

A TA strategy should consist of three main components:

  • Pipelining & sourcing – taking a reactive rather than proactive approach, creating candidate pools and targeted events, and using data analytics
  • Attract & retain – offering a talent value proposition, total rewards (including a wellness strategy) and flexibility in the workplace
  • Learning & development – talent programs, progression and succession planning, management, and development programs.

The insurance industry as a whole tends to be reactive, but organizations should use data analytics proactively to get ahead with their TA strategies, Lee said during her presentation, Overcome the Great Resignation & Power Your Organization with Talent.

For example, an average TA specialist speaks to 25 to 30 candidates a week, or more than one thousand people a year. If the TA team consists of five people, that makes more than 5,000 candidates a year.

“If your team is bigger, we’re talking tens of thousands of people your TA team is currently talking to every year,” Lee said. “And what I find is a lot of companies tend to take that data and it falls into this black hole… never to be seen or heard from again unless the candidate comes back and re-applies.

Westland's Jessica Lee speaking at the Future of Insurance Canada 2022 conference

Jessica Lee, senior talent partnerships and programs specialist with Westland Insurance, speaking at the Future of Insurance Canada 2022 conference, hosted by Reuters Events.

“The same way that you’re doing across all your other departments or you’re using software, using technology to really harness that data and analyze it… do the same for TA. You probably already have the candidates you’re looking for… somewhere, you just haven’t quantified it, you haven’t qualified it, you haven’t empowered your TA team to go and look into that data.”

Having a dedicated talent acquisition team within your organization is “the bare minimum,” Lee said. A key tactic is aligning the TA strategy with business goals and inviting the TA team to the table early. “Recruitment is a band-aid solution. At the end of the day, there’s a lot more core, deep-rooted issues within the organization that you actually have to address before you come to recruitment with these issues.”

The second component of the TA strategy includes attraction and retention, mainly total rewards and talent value proposition. “Employer value proposition really is, why should someone come work for you and why is your company better than your competitors?” Lee explained. “If you’re talking about it from a company standpoint, your talent value proposition is now ‘why should people take that actual job?’”

Total rewards have also evolved from “‘how can your company compensate for my time?’ to ‘how can your company fit my lifestyle?’” Lee said. Instead of just components like salary, paid time off and standard benefits, candidates are now looking for things like mental health benefits, continuing education and  diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) benefits as part of a more holistic perspective.

Lee said she had a candidate who specifically asked what benefits were available to support gender transitioning professionals. “Unfortunately, my answer was none,” Lee said. “Obviously, we didn’t [recruit] her because her current employer did support her in their benefits package.”

Lastly, look at learning & development opportunities.

“You’ve hired the right person, you found them, you hired them, you retain them, give them the best package you could. And then what?” Lee asked. “With a lot of companies I do find that’s the end of the story for a candidate and they’re having to find their own way to develop their own career.”

Look at what you’re doing to upskill talent up with, say, current technology trends. But make sure it’s reasonable. “[One] hiring manager asked me for someone with, I think, it was like 10 or 15 years experience in a specific software,” Lee recalled. “That software didn’t exist until about six years ago.

“So, it just baffles me when we ask for all these qualifications,” she said. “Some of this experience we’re looking for hasn’t even existed for the past decade.”


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