Hiring, retaining employees in this economy

March 31, 2022

In researching the challenges those in the insurance industry face when hiring new employees, the response is like other industries: We can’t find them; They won’t work for us; We have no problem finding people, but don’t have a good track record of making quality hires; and We hire them, and we train them, but we can’t see to keep them.

So, what can you do at your agency that can help you reach (and keep) the right people for your agency? Here’s a quick-and-easy guide that might help you and your agency:

Do you have a referral program that works?

Statistically, the best source of quality hires.

  • Everyone is a recruiter! Make it easy to post openings on social media and give incentives for each post.
  • Are employees trained on how to be great recruiters?
  • Do you make it easy? (One page sheet, mobile ads, etc.)

Your hiring page

Is this something candidates can find easily? Don’t make them look for it. If hiring is your No. 1 priority, consider including a splash page on your website. Also, every hiring page should include videos:

  • The CEO/Owner video discussing firm’s vision, mission, goals, culture, etc.
  • A Day in the Life video. Make it cool and high quality.
  • Employee testimonial videos. These are easy to produce on smartphones.
  • Make a job-specific video.
  • Hiring FAQ. Don’t make applicants guess at your hiring process. Let them know what they can expect each step of the way. Then live up to your timeline.

Turnover is created because we hire misfits

Many people hire a candidate out of desperation—to finish the hiring process so they can go back to doing their job.

However, many new hires don’t have the necessary skills. Don’t assume anyone’s abilities just because of their experience. Skill testing is a must for every position. You can test on sales skills, administration skills, IT, insurance knowledge, etc. You can do this using the following:

  • Personality assessment tools help everybody understand natural strengths and weaknesses. The best tools provide interview questions based on the profile results.
  • Case scenarios. Have candidates walk through their greatest challenges.
  • Behavioral interviewing. Ask them what felt unfair in their last job. Keep asking the question “why?,” until you understand how they deal with situations that they feel are unfair. Also ask them about when they were most excited about their previous job and explore why.


Once you’ve hired someone, don’t ignore him or her. Rather, establish a comprehensive onboarding experience.

  • Take a checklist approach. Onboarding is a process, not an event.
  • Conduct an entrance interview on the person’s first day. Find out why he or she decided to come to work for you. Then use that data to go back to the candidate market.
  • New employees are like mini-consultants. On the first day share a 60-Day Survey asking what they can see about the company you can’t see for yourself and have them share their experiences. Go over that survey with them on the 60th day.
  • Conduct a 90-Day Quality of Hire Assessment. Did you make a quality hire? If not, is the potential there? If not, time to look for a replacement.
  • Consider, the Zappos Pay-to-Quit Experiment. It’s a bold move in which—after an initial training period—you offer candidates money to quit. If they aren’t fully committed, do you still want them?

The ‘Big Quit’ or ‘Great Resignation’

We are experiencing unprecedented rates of turnover. In my experience, the full cost of turnover it is roughly 1:1 at the mid-point salary (i.e., if the employee earns $60,000, the turnover costs are roughly $60,000). If the employee earns over the midpoint, the ratio increases, below it decreases. Remember, turnover is contagious. Here are just some of the costs involved:

  • Costs per employee/manager/HR
  • Separation costs
  • Vacancy costs (overtime, temps, etc.)
  • Increased stress on remaining staff
  • Cost of hiring a new employee
  • Onboarding costs
  • Training costs
  • Soft costs (including client/customer dissatisfaction)

And, don’t forget revenue equivalency. Every HR problem becomes a sales problem. How much revenue will you have to bring in to make up for that turnover cost? The ratio is conservatively 4:1—that $60,000 in turnover cost represents $240,000 in marginal replacement revenue. How many new clients does that represent?

Who is resigning?

In the first 90 days, Gen Z employees tend to quit. They are new to the workforce and they are disoriented quickly. Many aren’t exactly sure what they want to do.

  • Employees between 30 and 45 years old have had the greatest increase in resignation rates. Especially in dual-income households with kids.
  • In recent years, some 1.8 million women have left the workforce. How do you support working moms?
  • Early retirees. Why not keep them on part-time, working in their highest capacity?

Why are they leaving?

  • Poor onboarding
  • Compensation
  • Poor fit culturally
  • Better opportunities
  • Retirement
  • Changing career paths
  • The boss

Money, money, money

Do you have a compensation philosophy? Do you pay at, below, or above mid-grade? How do you use incentives to create more skin in the game? Also, how are you using available funds to engage employees effectively?

Hybrid work

Hybrid work is here to stay. The good news is it opens you up to job candidates from anywhere! Some thoughts on managing the remote workers to keep them engaged:

  • Flexibility is the buzzword. The shift must focus on results, not activities.
  • Wage and hour laws—make sure they have a good app for clocking in/out, including meal periods.
  • Safety—the home office is an extension of your workplace. Is it safe? A worker’s compensation case was filed because a worker tripped on her carpet on the way from her desk to the bathroom.
  • Security—remote workers are a cyber liability threat. Make sure they are following all the protocols. If they work on sensitive matters, is there physical security of the home, equipment, etc.?
  • Staying in touch—you must reach out to your employees at least once per week for one-on-one meetings. Send handwritten notes to them, too.
  • Proper equipment—make sure they have a good chair, desk, Zoom equipment, etc.

Growth opportunities

Just what are the growth opportunities? Do you provide career ladders?

  • Career planning—what’s next? Is there a plan for it that involves any gap training?
  • Don’t let titles get in the way of career advancement.
  • Have they been assigned a mentor? Coach?

Employee branding

Everything you’ve learned about branding applies to your business’s branding.

  • Website—look at how Zappos (for example) has branded the work experience.
  • Clothing—have employee contests to create logos, slogans, etc. Make sure it is cool enough that they are willing to wear it outside of work.
  • Building—your workplace tells a story. What is it? Use posters, quotes, whiteboards, and other tools to help visualize your band.
  • Home office—send some posters and other sway to help them stay visually connected to your office.

What employers are doing

According to my research and experience, employers are:

  • Providing pay hikes equal to new market rates.
  • Surveying employees to find out what they want/need.
  • Delegating as a way manage workloads. It also provides for growth opportunities for others.
  • Doubling down on the business’s culture and inclusion. This must start at the top.
  • Selling employees on career opportunities. Can they see the long-term opportunity of working with you?
  • Recruiting wider, especially for remote or younger employees.
  • Creating a fun/engagement committee.

Software apps and features

As you can imagine there are a ton of engagement-focused apps on the marketplace (e.g., Culture Amp, Olumo, Kudos, Office Vibe, Motivosity, Peakon, Qualtrics, Blink, and Glint). Some features include:

  • Survey tools
  • Pulse surveys
  • Anonymity
  • AI and data
  • “Heat maps”
  • Feedback loops
  • Goal management
  • Performance/project management
  • Scorecards
  • Competitor benchmarks
  • Recognition tools

To learn more about these apps go to https://www.capterra.com/employee-engagement-software/.


It’s cheaper to keep them! Your assignment is to:

  • Pump up your hiring pages.
  • Pump up your referral program.
  • Complete a turnover cost calculator for your most common turnover positions.
  • Complete a retention program possibilities spreadsheet inputting your programs.
  • Survey your employees.
  • Create a fun committee!
Don Phin
Don Phin | + posts

Don Phin is an employment lawyer, trainer, speaker and coach. He is the editor of Employment Practices Liability Consultant (EPLiC) published by IRMI. For more information, including retention tools that can help you implement many of the actions outlined in this article, email don@donphin.com. You also can find additional free tools at www.donphin.com/free-tools/.

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