Filed Under:Claims, Education & Training

What it takes to attract and keep insurance & financial services employees

Beyond wages and benefits, workers want flexibility and career development

Ideas for what the financial services industry can do to attract, engage and retain employees in the current competitive environment. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Ideas for what the financial services industry can do to attract, engage and retain employees in the current competitive environment. (Photo: Shutterstock)

More than two-thirds of financial services employees in a new survey said they were interested in remaining in the industry, though this was less true of the youngest ones.

Thirty-nine percent of millennial and Gen Z employees were more interested in working in the technology sector, compared with 22 percent of baby boomers.

The survey, commissioned by Kronos Inc., a maker of workforce management software, and conducted by Future Workplace, a research firm, focused on what the financial services industry could do to attract, engage and retain employees in the current competitive environment.

Morar Consulting fielded the national poll between March 27 and April 4 to 806 finance professionals from C-level executives to employees across different age brackets and industry sectors.

Desire more transparency

The findings showed that 62 percent of respondents working in asset management, insurance and banking felt that the 2008 financial crisis still influenced how they viewed the industry, with 49 percent desiring more transparency from senior management.

Some three-quarters of employees also believed that the financial services industry could continue to recover strongly, and a fourth say it could do so by giving more charitable donations and offering employees time to volunteer.

“The financial services industry may have been in a state of flux over the last decade but there is no doubt the industry continues to grow,” Malysa O’Connor, senior director for the financial services practice group at Kronos, said in a statement.  

“Today it is important for financial services leaders to take a proactive approach to engaging and retaining employees as the workforce is the key differentiator in this industry.”

What matters

What makes an attractive employer? Sixty-nine percent of employees in the survey said competitive wages, 68 percent a good benefits package, 52 percent flexible work arrangements and 51 percent opportunities for career advancement.

Related: 12 ways to engage millennials in insurance and finance careers

However, 76 percent of respondents said they were driven by more than just money when they looked for a new job. Seventy-three percent said they needed to see what a company stood for before joining.

In addition, 52 percent said their company had to have a strong philanthropic mission.

Work-life balance & flexibility missing?

As to what they had given up to work in financial services, 36 percent said work-life balance and 23 percent flexibility.

Millennials and Gen Zers were especially sensitive about these losses. Seventy percent felt they had given up flexibility versus only 12 percent of boomers, and 83 percent felt the same about work-life balance versus 29 percent of boomers.

Related: Keys to finding & keeping the right employees

Moreover, 80 percent of employees said they wished their employer offered flexible or compressed schedules, and 37 percent wished they could telecommute.

Indeed, 69 percent said they needed flexibility and telecommuting options to stay in the financial services field — pay alone was not enough to keep them there.

Asked how their managers could best support them, 42 percent of employees said that giving them more flexibility would be the most effective means of support. These were other ways:

-- Investing in learning and development, 41 percent.

-- Helping employees achieve their personal goals, 39 percent.

-- Being challenged, 30 percent.

-- Giving more frequent feedback,30 percent.

-- Mentoring, 29 percent.

In every category, millennials and members of Gen Z found these strategies more effective than their Gen X and boomer counterparts.

“This survey provides valuable insight about how to overcome the residual perception effect of the 2008 bailout among job seekers and employees,” Dan Schawbel, Future Workplace’s research director, said in the statement.

“Employees today care about competitive pay and benefits, but they also care deeply about flexibility, meaningful work and choosing an employer that is a good corporate citizen.”

What employers can do

Forty-five percent of financial services employees said their company could better engage them in their work by showing that their efforts made a difference.

Two other tactics, each supported by 39 percent of respondents, were lessening of office politics and removing bureaucracy.

In addition, 36 percent said that support for their personal and professional goals would help, and 19 percent said removing silos would heighten engagement.

Related: Education and the looming talent gap

Asked what their employer could do to attract and retain talent, 54 percent of employees said companies should reward people more than once a year with a bonus.

Forty-seven percent said the company should recognize people more often, 38 percent said provide ongoing coaching and development and 29 percent said provide more training for managers.

Michael S. Fischer is a regular contributor to ThinkAdvisor, focusing on tax and estate planning, philanthropy and other wealth management issues. Contact him at

Originally published on ThinkAdvisor. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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