Risk experts share how they attract and retain the best talent 

An organisation that cannot attract, retain and motivate key talent is doomed to fail.

Without the right people in place, innovation falters, operations are disrupted, customers are let down and reputation plummets.

So, what strategies are leading risk managers and their organisations adopting to manage people-related threats? In October, Insurance Times’ sister publication StrategicRISK held a webinar to find out.

Experts agreed that talent risks were growing, with this in part being driven by the Covid-19 pandemic and the wave of resignations that came as a result.

“Businesses these days are facing enormous challenges,” Mike Naulls, UK corporate growth leader at Mercer Marsh Benefits, said.

“They’ve got to balance inflationary pressures, labour market and supply chain disruption and, of course, organisations still need to be productive and successful. People are key.”

Talent pool

However, one issue is that organisations from multiple sectors are all competing for the same talent, particularly when it comes down to technological know-how.

In its Global Risk Management Survey, which was published earlier this month (8 December 2023), Aon revealed that risk managers and c-suites named failing to innovate and meeting customer needs as one of their key concerns.

And the broking giant also noted that such fears over innovation and digitisation was linked to executives’ concerns about failing to attract top talent.

Naulls explained that there was “high demand for expertise in certain fields”.

“I was speaking to a national water board about their challenges around recruitment and they’re having to compete with tech firms and financial services for data scientists,” he added.

A key step to attracting the skills required is for firms to broaden the pool of candidates they select from.

For claims management provider Crawford, this meant a wholesale change in the way the company thinks about recruitment following the pandemic.

Afiong Ekong, director of human resources at Crawford, said: “Pre-pandemic, the approach to recruitment was rigid. It was Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and we used to advertise in specific geographic areas with quite rigid terms and conditions.

“This generally produced a small talent pool within our industry and we often exhausted it.

“We were able to change to hybrid, making smarter and more flexible working decisions and improved employee engagement.

“This not only significantly widened our talent pool, but it allowed us to recruit nationwide for most of our vacancies.”

She added that the organisation had shifted away from hiring people based on their experience and was instead looking for transferable skills like integrity, accountability and the desire to learn.

Internal mobility

While attracting new talent is crucial for businesses, panellists agreed that retaining existing skills was just as important.

Firms need to think carefully about succession planning, not just in terms of retaining knowledge, but also sharing and transferring it.

To help with this, Crawford’s people development director Luke Brannigan said his firm was “doing a huge amount of work around internal mobility”.

This refers to the movement of employees across an organisation to help them embark on new career and development opportunities.

Crawford’s internal mobility is at its highest ever rate (42%) because developing and progressing internal talent is a key priority.

Brannigan said: “We’re doing huge amount of work around internal mobility and we’re looking to shape our internal recruitment strategy.

“We’d much rather bring someone through the organisation internally because you’ve got all those added benefits around understanding the culture, processes and way of doing things.

“We’re also looking at how we transfer expertise down through the organisation. We’re a fantastically diverse company so we want to share that knowledge.”

He also said that Crawford had been doing a “huge amount of work” over the last year around building out its training proposition.

“We’re putting that in front of colleagues and they’re helping us understand where the gaps are in terms of their own technical knowledge,” Brannigan said.

“Because we’re getting closer to helping employees achieve their career goals, we’re seeing people who’ve left the business come back as we’ve got more to offer.”