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Talent Gap: A 3-part focus for brokers and their agencies Part 3: 5 ways to take your agency onboarding process to the next level

7 minute read

Written by John Kuehn

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Join Zywave VP John Kuehn as he explores the talent gap brokers and the insurance industry as a whole must face in this three-part blog series.

We’ve been talking about the talent gap in this industry we both love and play in, and how crucial it is to attract and retain talent. In the last two posts, we discussed recruiting and retaining, and how to survive and thrive, even if your client’s CEO decides to retire. Today, we’re going to talk about one more crucial element for driving agency success—onboarding.

Why is onboarding so important? For one thing, onboarding is a great tool for establishing your agency’s culture. It’s your chance to communicate right away who your agency is and what your agency does. It develops your brand and builds a positive reputation for your company—especially among talented job seekers.

Implementing a good onboarding process can make a huge difference. I just read a Boston Consulting Group study that said that firms that onboard well can expect to nearly double their corporate revenue growth and profit margins, compared to firms with only average onboarding practices.

Talented recruits look for employers who provide them a stage to perform on—a platform to help them be successful and progress personally and professionally. That’s why an important part of attracting top talent is making sure that onboarding sets up new producers to be successful. Some agencies have taken this to heart, but others leave it to chance. That might be why 2 of every 3 new producers don’t cut it.

Do you want to set up your new producers for success? Then let’s look at five ways your agency’s onboarding process could do just that.

Formalize the Process

This doesn’t mean that it has to be boring. It simply means that training can’t be ad-libbed by the manager at the last minute when the new hire arrives. A formalized onboarding process can go on for days, weeks, months and sometimes years. Here at Zywave, we call it “Bootcamp”—all employees attend sessions for up to eight weeks at a time. It’s our opportunity to show new hires everything about the organization, including company structure, goals and roles, and industry expertise and standards.

Include Everyone

And I mean everyone.

When deciding who to include in the onboarding process, don’t just think about the people who are involved in the new hire’s day-to-day operations. At Zywave, everyone from executives to administrative professionals is involved in onboarding. Whether it’s as a welcome, becoming a mentor or teaching a Bootcamp class, our employees are involved in making new hires feel taken care of right away. Have these people introduce themselves along with their roles, and encourage them to extend an open line of communication.

 Recruit a Mentor

Assigning a mentor to a new hire can be invaluable to the onboarding process.

A mentor can help the new hire in a variety of ways, including the following:

  • Giving the new hire a better understanding of the workplace from a different point of view
  • Acting as a safe source for questions that the new hire might not otherwise feel comfortable asking, thus decreasing errors and increasing productivity
  • Reassuring the new hire that he or she is not alone and that he or she has someone other than HR or his or her manager to contact with everyday questions, since the mentor has been in the new hire’s shoes before
  • Helping the new hire learn the organization’s culture more quickly so he or she can be as productive as possible

The mentor and employer can gain from the mentoring experience as well. The chance to advise others can increase a mentor’s confidence and overall job satisfaction. Organizations that provide mentoring support show that they care about their employees and that they are invested in them for the long term.

Use Technology

We’re all about technology and making the lives of our partners easier, which is why we want to do the same for our employees.

Traditional methods of giving a handbook to an employee and asking them to read it, or sending them on a hunt to find something that can be otherwise easily accessed through the company intranet, is not onboarding. Not to mention, it’s just plain boring.

Companies should have a system that is organized, intuitive and highly customizable. It’s why our partners offer our employee portal, HRconnection, to their clients, and why our employees use it, too. If the information that new hires may need is well-organized, the employees should simply need to be trained on how to navigate the system. Teaching an employee how to find what he or she needs is more productive than teaching the employee excess information and simply hoping that he or she remembers it. It also allows the new hires to learn at their own pace. The right technology is imperative.

 Think Outside the Box

Onboarding is about integrating the new hire into your company culture and helping him or her transition into a new role. Do what you think is best for your company as a whole. A formalized process that offers a variety of useful information is integral, but trying different things doesn’t hurt. This is a process that you can extend for as long as you deem necessary. Some onboarding programs continue for years, while others continue in a limited manner, offering training in various areas in an effort to increase talent retention.

When you share your company’s goals and values with your employees while simultaneously showing them how to do their jobs, everyone benefits. Take a close look at how you onboard your employees and how the above can help you improve attracting, developing and retaining the best in the business.



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