Louise Fraser, recruitment consultant – life insurance at StirlingAndersen, explains how the changing nature of Australia’s life insurance market is affecting the sector in terms of recruiting and attracting staff. She notes that it is becoming increasingly common in the Australian life insurance market, and arguably globally, that employees will not simply desire flexibility, they will expect it

When asked to write about the current trends in recruiting and attracting staff in the Australian life insurance market, the first and most relevant topic that came to mind is the changing nature of the relationship between employer and employee.

In a market that is currently suffering from a shortage of suitable candidates, employees are in a more powerful position than ever when deciding where and how they chose to work. In response to this life insurance companies have started exploring every avenue available to ensure they have access to the best talent to perform at an optimal level in a highly competitive market.

Why is the Life Insurance market changing?….

? The number of people insured is continually growing, including large numbers of Australians being covered for life Insurance automatically (and cheaply), through their Superannuation arrangements.

? Australians are becoming more aware that they can make claims, particularly represented by ‘no win- no fee’ lawyers, resulting in larger claim volumes

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? Australia has an ageing population: Insurers have accelerated their efforts and grown businesses to manage the impact of this change.

So, in a candidate short market, where experienced or "value adding" employees are in high demand to keep up with the growing industry, many life insurers have realised the need to move away from the conventional recruiting models in order to source from talents pools with increasingly diverse preferences and experiences.

With the costs of claims rising, and the increasing number of people making claims, we are now seeing a number of life insurance companies tapping into the Allied Health professional market to recruit new talent and bring in new skills to their claims teams.

This growing trend in hiring from Allied Health Professions has now given life insurers a pool of talent that can utilise medical and clinical experience to better manage the portfolio of risk.

Role of allied health professionals

Allied Health Professionals play a vital role in tailoring rehabilitation and return to work programmes in their day-to-day jobs. In bringing this additional knowledge into claims and through trialling of alternative claims management systems, some Australian Life Insurance Companies are beginning to achieve claims profitability targets at a time when they need it most.

Flexibility in the workplace

It is also increasingly common in the life insurance market in Australia, and arguably globally, that employees will not simply ‘desire’ flexibility… they will expect it! In my time recruiting for life insurance clients over the last 2 years I have noticed job hunting attitudes change significantly.

In a competitive market the experienced candidates that we meet will often make a decision on a company based on what they can offer in terms of such benefits. The life insurance industry in Australia is notably ahead of the game making preparations and allowing for such attitudes.

When reviewing the websites of each of my life insurance clients I found detailed lists of employee benefits, each company promising that when working for them ‘you will have the freedom to work, how, when and where you want’.

The industry widely appreciates this need to be perceived as the most flexible, and industry awards such as ‘Employer of the Year’, ‘Employer of Choice’ and ‘Life Company of the year award’ are highly sought and valued.

Work- life balance

If you look at most recent studies: employees around the globe have said that a work life balance is important to them. It is also clear that generation Y employees now expect flexibility as a given, rather than an additional benefit in their contract.

Stirling Andersen is a specialist insurance recruitment firm with a global presence, with offices in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, China and the UK.