The Urgency of Finding—and Keeping—Talent


Labor PainsOne of the most common areas of discussion now with CIOs and CTOs in Aite-Novarica Group’s Insurance Technology Research Council is related to finding, and keeping, the talent needed to run effective operations. Technology has always been an important underpinning of the insurance industry, but the age of this tech has taken on increased urgency in the pandemic/post-pandemic era.

Digitization of capabilities is increasingly critical for carriers looking to improve their competitive positions. Demographic shifts are now profoundly impacting both customers and distribution partners. Cost pressures remain elevated, and new competitive threats are emerging.

Being effective and agile in delivery has never been more urgent, yet the Great Resignation and its aftermath have left many companies reeling. This proved to be a major discussion point at our InsureTech Connect (ITC) event in Las Vegas, and it is already informing the agenda for May’s full Research Council meeting near Hartford.

While there’s no silver bullet for addressing talent issues, there are great examples of building human capital game plans. At the session in Nevada, I talked about the need for insurers to be better at telling their own stories. This is an industry rich in both data and complexity. It is an industry with a remarkable social mission, helping people survive traumatic moments and potentially deal with significant pain and loss. It has “pay-it-forward” credibility that few other industries can match. In a world where many of the best and brightest want to do something meaningful with their talent, this is a great place to be. Telling the story about the promise of what’s possible should be front and center in recruiting efforts.

Oddly enough, my comments at ITC proved to be somewhat prophetic. A recent New York Times story highlighted people who are looking to move on from certain workplaces (e.g., social media companies) and seeking more meaningful ways to contribute. Examples cited included moving from Amazon to United Healthcare, for many of the reasons we discussed at ITC. While the recent employment retrenchment at places like Amazon, Meta, Salesforce, and Twitter is modest in comparison to these organizations’ recent hiring, it is nevertheless creating a fascinating opportunity for insurance IT organizations. Striking while the iron is hot may be key to getting set for the new year!

But wait, there’s more! One of the other things I addressed at ITC was the challenge of talent acquisition to deal with legacy technologies that will simply not fade away. It turns out that things like Assembler, COBOL, VSAM, and DB2 still carry significant and secure workloads in many organizations. Ignoring this creates a new set of challenges and risks, as the FAA recently learned.

One of our Council member CIOs recently discovered, to his delight, that he was able to hire three recently retired developers who are experts in these technologies. The chance to “retire,” then reenter the labor force for 20 hours a week while working remotely was exactly what they had in mind. Perhaps this is not a forever solution, but it is good enough to buy some time and get through the next few years. With younger baby boomers and older Gen Xers poised to retire in the current planning horizon, this is exactly the kind of arrow leaders may need in their quiver to survive and thrive.

If you’d like to discuss any of this in more detail, please let me know. I can be reached at [email protected].