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August 2017

In This Issue Employment Trends in the Insurance Industry Attract, Retain and Motivate HR for Your Agency

Texas Insurance News Round-Up


In This Issue Employment Trends in the Insurance Industry

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My Generation

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Attract Top Talent

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Millennials + Insurance Careers = Optimism

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The Right Stuff: Sales Talent

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The Dream Team

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HR for Insurance Agents

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Texas News Round-Up

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2017 Continuing Education Classes 6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Dave & Buster’s Buffet Dinner Included San Antonio Wednesday, August 23, 2017 Houston Wednesday, September 6, 2917 Dallas Wednesday, October 25, 2017 See our full calendar for detailed information.

Texas PIA P.O. Box 700877 Dallas, TX 75370 (972) 862-3333

Shirley Almany Our industry is now facing an impending workforce crisis which is likely to impact each of your agencies to some extent. In this issue, we explore trends and strategies to help you be well prepared. What are you doing to attract and prepare your future leadership? Texas PIA is your partner, with the information, education and resources to assist you and your entire staff stay ahead of the trends, as well as your competition. And members, be sure to take full advantage of the benefits offered by the PIA Trust Insurance Plans as well. In this issue, you will find information on a number of high-quality plans including long term and short term disability and voluntary term life, to name a few, that you and your employees can participate in through the program. Just as your employees are your most valuable asset, at Texas PIA our most valuable asset is our members. Please let us know what we can do for you and your staff. Our commitment is to the independent agency system.


Shirley Page 2

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Employment Trends in the Insurance Industry In this issue we discuss strategies for building the best possible team for your independent agency. This includes the all-important goal of attracting younger employees to careers in insurance, motivating your entire staff to top performance levels and understanding the HR challenges that face us as small business owners. Let’s begin with some of the trends that are likely to impact us in all of these areas: Need to attract millennials: We’ve all heard the dire predictions about our looming workforce gap. According to a report from management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., the average age of a US insurance agent is 59. As such, one-fourth of the industry’s work force is expected to retire by 2018. And assuming a related MarshBerry study is correct, balancing out the numbers means hiring three young producers for every producer currently employed. With 693,000 insurance professionals age 50 or older — a 74% increase over the past 10 years — the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 400,000 job openings in the insurance industry by 2020. Even more alarming is the prospect of trying to fill those slots with younger agents and executives at independent agencies when surveys indicate that millennials decidedly favor industries other than insurance. The bottom line, MarshBerry said, is that independent agencies need to start recruiting younger producers immediately. Technology Within the span of the next decade, innovators and technologists alike are promising revolutionary advances in today’s business technologies that will directly alter the insurance industry: cloud-based infrastructure, next generation artificial intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, robotic process automation, real-time analytics, automated claims processing and much more. Talent will be more important than ever in this new world. In fact, it will be a top priority because the ability to attract, lead and retain the best people will determine who survives. With many strategic choices ahead of them, insurance leaders must ask: “Am I preparing the organization fast enough and in the right way?” Importance of diversity We must adapt to these realities by embracing new, different and, yes, diverse ways of looking at how we work and how we create solutions. The diversity of thought in how we reimagine insurance practices, and the willingness of insurance organizations to adapt to new technologies are combining to fundamentally alter how insurance is done. For insurance organizations, a willingness to adapt to technological advances as well as diverse hiring and business practices simply makes sense. The tech and automation tools are a way to keep pace with others in the industry and ensure the long-term viability and Continued on Page 8 TEXAS CONNECTION - TEXAS PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE AGENTS DIGITAL JOURNAL

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My Generation “They’re different than we were when we started out”. That’s how every generation in the workplace seems to view the next. Certainly there are very real differences, but since we have no choice but to replace the retiring pros with younger employees understanding each generation’s unique point-of-view will help us motivate each to their highest potential.

Baby Boomers Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, and there are lots of them, particularly in the insurance industry. If you’re an agency owner or principal, it’s likely this is you. And for that reason alone you probably find them the easiest employees to manage. But there are other good reasons to want Boomers on your team. Baby Boomers Are: •

Work-Centric: Baby Boomers are extremely hardworking and motivated by position, perks, and prestige. Baby Boomers relish long work weeks and define themselves by their professional accomplishments. Since they sacrificed a great deal to get where they are in their career, this workaholic generation believes that Generation X and Generation Y should pay their dues and conform to a culture of overwork. Baby Boomers may criticize younger generations for a lack of work ethic and commitment to the workplace.

Independent: Baby Boomers are confident, independent and self-reliant. This generation grew up in an era of reform and believes they can change the world. They questioned established authority systems and challenged the status quo.

Goal-Oriented: With increased educational and financial opportunities than previous generations, Baby Boomers are achievement-oriented, dedicated and career-focused. They welcome exciting, challenging projects and strive to make a difference.

Competitive: Since Baby Boomers equate work and position with self-worth, they are quite competitive in the workplace. They are clever, resourceful and strive to win.

Self-Actualized: Because the Baby Boomers grew up in a time of mass middle-class affluence, they had time and energy for self-actualization, and the Traditionalists values of conformity and loyalty started to fall apart. Work for the Baby Boomers shifted from a source of stability to a means of self-actualization and selfexpression.

But now the Baby Boomers are starting to retire, and their replacements need to be recruited and trained. It’s true that many of them are planning to retire later than then their predecessors, but that won’t come close to filling the coming workplace void. Best to get the next round of leaders identified while your experienced pros are around to be mentors. Note: While these qualities can make Boomers seem like the perfect employees, younger generations can find them to be unwilling to change and overly committed to workplace systems, rules and norms. TEXAS CONNECTION - TEXAS PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE AGENTS DIGITAL JOURNAL

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Gen X Generation Xers were born between 1965 and 1980, “the middle child” of generations. They are a significantly smaller group marking the period of birth decline after the baby boom generation. But they are considered extremely important to the workforce, in numbers totally 65.8 million by 2018. What is significant about this group to insurance employers? Gen Xers are: •

Individualistic: Generation X came of age in an era of two-income families, rising divorce rates, and a faltering economy, although they would eventually enter the workforce during the healthier economic years of the Clinton administration. Women were joining the workforce in large numbers at the time of their births, spawning an age of “latch-key” children. As a result, Generation X is independent, resourceful, and self-sufficient. They value freedom and responsibility in the workplace. Many in this generation display a casual disdain for authority and structured work hours. They dislike being micro-managed and embrace a hands-off management philosophy.

Technologically Adept: The first generation to grow up with computers, technology is inextricably woven into their lives. As new technological tools are introduced this generation has learned and adapted. A common characteristic of Gen Xers is their comfort level with PDAs, smartphones, email, laptops, tablets and other technology employed in the workplace.

Flexible: Many Gen Xers lived through tough economic times and saw their workaholic parents lose hard-earned positions. They tend to be less committed to a single employer as a result. They're more willing to change jobs to get ahead than previous generations. They adapt well to change and are tolerant of alternative lifestyles. Generation X is ambitious and eager to learn new skills, but they like to accomplish things on their own terms.

Balanced in Work/Life: Unlike previous generations, Generation X works to live rather than lives to work. Gen Xers appreciate fun in the workplace and espouse a work hard/play hard mentality. This generation's managers often incorporate humor and games into work activities. Millennials Born in the 80s and 90s, Millennials (or Gen Yers) are 75 million strong, our largest generation. Raised by “helicopter parents” who doted on them, millennials tend to display an abundance of self-confidence, and believe they are highly valuable to any organization from day one. This attitude can grate on their much more experienced managers, but they can bring great value when handled appropriately.


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Millennials are: •

Driven by Challenge: Millennials are extremely focused on developing themselves and thrive on learning news job skills and achieving their goals. They are also the “can do” generation, never worrying about failure, for they see themselves as running the world and work environments.

(Overly) Connected to Parents: As they move through their twenties, they still speak to their parents frequently and turn to their parents for personal and career advice. Organizations must remember the parent involvement factor when dealing with this group. These parents are still micro-managing their children’s careers and personal lives. This also leads to a need for constant feedback, and in particular praise, as they were reassured daily of their achievements.

In Need of Flexibility: When it comes to work life balance, Gen Y is not willing to give up their lifestyle for a career. They have traveled extensively and value having flexibility in their daily lives. They choose careers that allow them to live the life they desire, busy with after-work activities, including philanthropic involvement. Multitasking is their way of life.

Team-Oriented: Millennials band together to socialize in groups. Therefore, they feel comfortable working on teams and want to make friends with the people at work. They believe that a team can accomplish more and create a better end result. They also grew up in a multi-cultural world which enables them to work well on a team with diverse co-workers.

Tech Savvy: They are constantly connected as they listen to their iPods or send text messages, all while working on a critical project. Social media is at the heart of their world. This allows them to connect with co-workers and friends around the world at great speed. The electronic capabilities of Gen Y are extraordinary.

Of course we all know from personal experience that no one person necessarily fits neatly into their generational description. Each has their unique skill sets and challenges, and the qualities that we seek in top performers tend to be consistent across all age group. But it’s also clear that we must explore new ways to approach recruitment and retention to appeal to each generation’s unique attitudes and values about work. Baby Boomers may want to work reduced hours rather than retiring. Gen Xers might want a challenging but balanced schedule. Millennials may expect perks in exchange for their loyalty. Flexibility is necessary to adapt compensation and benefits as well as communication and management styles to draw the best in each generation for the long-term success of your agency. See source information for this article on page 24

Employment Trends in the Insurance Industry, continued from Page 5

Diversity, on the other hand, is where insurance organizations will thrive. People prefer to do business with those who understand and appreciate their background and where they’ve come from. Diversity programs, in the traditional sense, allow businesses to provide that level of service. See source information for this article on page 24


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Attract Top Talent Identifying and attracting the right kind of talent is undoubtedly a challenge in the insurance industry. Strategies for effective recruitment is a quickly evolving landscape, from offering the right vacation perks to identifying personality traits. Competitive wages and a good benefits package still top the list of what makes a company attractive to employees, according to Carrier Management’s May 17, 2017 issue, reporting on a new survey of financial services professionals commissioned by workforce management technology provider Kronos Incorporated and conducted by Future Workplace. But respondents also want flexible work arrangements and opportunities for career advancement. The majority also say they need to see what a company stands for before joining and look for a company with a strong philanthropic mission. What are the top independent insurance agencies thoughts on effectively recruiting talented people? “Agency sales culture is transitioning to accommodate multiple generations in different cultures. New sales staff come from all ages and walks of life”, Tom Harrison, SIA of the Great Lakes, Green Bay, Wisconsin. “Hire for sales ability — not knowledge of insurance, which can be learned. If the skill set for sales is there, learning the insurance piece is doable” Sue Hendrix, Insurance Store, Inc., Chesterfield, Missouri. “I believe we can attract new workers to our industry by giving them several monetary incentives to bring in their own business, as well as cross-sell other lines of insurance to our existing clients” Vincent Mannino, All Nevada Insurance, Inc., Las Vegas, Nevada. “I think that we need to do more to expose people to insurance at a much younger age. The industry spends billions of dollars each year on marketing, but nowhere near as much in creating mediums in our educational system” Robert Mazey, New Jersey Agents Alliance LLC, Princeton, New Jersey.


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Behavioral Insight with The Omnia Profile Free member benefit! In just 10 minutes or less, Omnia’s behavioral assessment tool gives you insight to take the guesswork out of personnel decisions. Whether you are hiring a new employee, deciding on future roles for current employees, team building or creating a succession plan for your agency, Omnia can help. As a special PIA member benefit, Omnia Group offers one complimentary assessment for your agency. PIA Members also get one free profile with initial package purchase. Identify good candidates for specific positions, compare internal candidates for transfer or promotion, and understand the people on your team, and what they need to get and stay engaged. New Hires Compare candidates to specific job expectations, your workplace culture, the manager, and up to three peers. Transfer or Promotion Compare internal candidates to new job expectations as well as others performing successfully in the role. Retention & Motivation

Free PIA Member Exclusive Webinars All webinars are eligible for 1 General Human Resources CE credit – a certificate of participation will be emailed to you after the webinar. Webinars are 2:00pm – 3:00pm ET Click on the webinar title to register. September 20th Employee Recruiting Methods to Hire Right the First Time October 18th Power Interviewing November 15th Onboarding Your New Employee for Success

Retention starts with understanding who you’ve got and what they need to get and stay engaged. General Mental Ability In addition to the behavioral assessment tool, Omnia also offers a Cognitive Assessment. Contact Carletta Clyatt: or 800.525.7117 x1226. Be sure to mention that you’re a PIA member or visit the PIA member benefits page. Omnia Behavioral Assessment Can Help You • Learn if a CSR will fit with your team • Compare candidates with top staff • Answer the question, “Can your producers

really sell?” • Uncover management challenges • Maximize your employees potential!


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Millennials + Insurance Careers = Optimism In spite of what you may have heard, millennials are extremely optimistic about careers in insurance. According to Insurance Journal‘s 2016 Young Agents Survey, their optimism is higher today than it has been in recent history. “I believe that the insurance industry is a great way to start a career,” said a young agent responding to the survey. “You’re always learning and a lot of individuals will be retiring. Who will replace those people? Young insurance agents!” According to a 2016 study from insurance technology provider Vertafore, which polled 4,000 insurance professionals between the ages of 19 and 35, more than 80 percent of respondents say they plan to remain in the insurance industry for as long as possible. What makes insurance a great career for this group? What we, the insurance industry, have to offer is a great fit for the things millennials care about the most, including: Career Advancement Provides Opportunities to Learn Millennials can exercise their entrepreneurial attitudes in the insurance industry, especially in jobs that require creative thinking, problem-solving and a desire to help others. Diversity is Welcome At 87 million strong, millennials are the largest generational group in America, and also the most diverse. Insurance roles entail communicating and collaborating with people from all different backgrounds, and this experience will prove invaluable as the insurance industry expands to writing policies in emerging markets. Teamwork is Everywhere Millennials recognize that working together is more efficient than struggling alone. In the insurance industry, successful collaboration identifies business opportunities and solves problems. In an independent agency, employees work with a range of professionals, inside and out of the company. Flexible Work Schedule At the very least, the job is unlikely to entail sitting behind a desk 24/7. Ability to Shape the Future The insurance industry is looking at millennials — as true digital natives — to creatively use technology to solve problems and deliver risk solutions. While those young agents already in the business understand the rewards, the challenge is in communicating these benefits to their peers. So what are some strategies for attracting millennials to your agency? • Always be hiring: a Reagan recruitment study found that almost

60% of agencies are under-hiring (not hiring enough producers to support their growth and perpetuation objectives). And being consistently open to uncovering candidates can lead to a larger pool to choose from. Continued on Page 22 TEXAS CONNECTION - TEXAS PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE AGENTS DIGITAL JOURNAL

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The Right Stuff Regardless of age, the type of number one talent we are usually targeting is sales ability. And we hope that our top sales performers can be developed into leadership roles. So identifying the traits that are indicators of future success is one of the most critical steps in the process. Author John Farrington identifies the biggest trait of a sales winner as having the “Running Towards” personality instead of the “Running Away” personality. The “Running Away” type hits their snooze button three times before rolling out of bed, willing to skip potentially vital activity in order to enjoy a few more minutes of sleep. In contrast, the running toward mindset has already prepared to start their day the night before. They allow ample time for exercise, enjoying breakfast with their family and being ready to go with time to spare. Life for these people appears effortless and relatively stressfree — because they have made it that way. Recruiting sales superstars is tough. How do you identify a running toward personality? Look for these key attributes: Ownership over results:

As the saying goes, you can make money, or you can make excuses. But you can’t make both. The kind of people who can rack up an impressive client list will always focus on what they can do, not what they can’t. High level of ambition: Mediocre doesn’t cut it. Endless willpower: How have they handled rejection, disappointment and frustration, all inevitable in the sales cycle? Ideally, you want salespeople who can get knocked around all day long and then bounce back like it never happened. Focused on goals:

People with a goal-oriented mindset always trump those who limit their focus to mindlessly completing tasks. Why? Because they come up with creative ways to get the job done. High level of empathy: The ideal salesperson should be single-minded about achieving their own personal goals, but also be able to easily connect with and understand the minds of others. You’re looking for someone who is willing and able to take center stage and make a good impression, so they should be at their peak during an interview session. Once you’ve identified this sales star, instead of asking what they can do for you, ask what you can do to support them. Make their success your priority and you’ll all be winners. See source information for this article on page 24 TEXAS CONNECTION - TEXAS PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE AGENTS DIGITAL JOURNAL

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Are You Holding Your Customers Accountable? by Curt Pearsall, CPCU, AIAF, CPIA, President – Pearsall Associates, Inc. and Special Consultant to the Utica National E&O Program Is a lack of customer accountability an issue in your agency? Do you ask yourself “Why is it always our fault when a customer has a loss that is not covered? They knew that they didn’t have that coverage.” This is one of the bigger frustrations among insurance agencies, making it an appropriate errors-and-omissions (E&O) objective to focus on. An agency would be hard-pressed to hold customers accountable without a well-documented file. When an E&O claim happens, the E&O carrier will look to secure the actual file in question, whether it’s paper or electronic, to review what is in it. This file will also be available to the plaintiff’s attorney. Solid documentation will make the E&O carrier’s job much easier. This assumes that the documentation is prompt, accurate, and professional. A file with sketchy documentation could prove to be a challenge in an E&O matter. Document and memorialize in writing Twenty-five years ago, when a client would call with a question or a decision on a coverage, the agency standard was to document that discussion in the agency file. Nothing more, nothing less. Today, that is not enough. While these discussions should be documented in the system, they should also be memorialized back to the client in a written format – by email, letter, etc. Without some form of documentation that confirms or memorializes the discussion to the customer, it will be the agency’s word versus the client’s word if an uninsured loss has occurred. You might be surprised about what a client will say in such instances. The goal is to address any potential misunderstandings between what the customer told you or thought they told you and what you heard. Simply documenting the conversation in the agency management system does not help to identify a misunderstanding. Documentation to the customer should occur in a variety of circumstances. Here are some examples: › The client was given a proposal, but does not say “yes” to all the coverages proposed. There should be clear documentation on which coverages were purchased and which were not. Wording can be as simple as “at this time, the following coverages have not been bound…” followed by the list. › The client asks about how coverage would apply, such as “Mom and Dad are now in a nursing home and the house is vacant. What do I need to know?” The answers to such questions must be accurate and documented. › The client has signed the completed application. The best type of documentation involves something with the insured’s signature on it. Holding a customer accountable is enhanced when an agency can get their signature on a document. In virtually all legal jurisdictions, a customer will be held responsible for the accuracy of the information in an application if they signed it. Be sure to have the client review the application before asking them to sign it. › The agency provides a quality proposal to the client. This should include 1) a variety of limit options, 2) definitions of key insurance terms, 3) specimen policies to allow your client to read the actual forms that will be part of their insurance coverage, and 4) a list of other coverages for the client to consider. Since it is not possible to list all coverages, the disclaimer should state “coverages include, but are not limited to, the following…” Continued on Page 21


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The Dream Team We all agree that identifying great candidates and attracting them to your agency is a lot of work – and for ultimate success, must be an on-going effort. But that is only the beginning. What we do from there, beginning with the onboarding process, sets the stage for that new employee’s entire career with your agency. Set Up to Succeed Although no independent agency owner ever sets out to undermine their employee’s performance, unfortunately that’s just what can often happen simply because they don’t realize they are doing it. In many cases, owners haven’t had much formal business training, so they learn from their former managers, and may end up inadvertently repeating mistakes. Here are some of the most common mistakes that set up employees to fail: •

Misleading job titles. We all use job titles to communicate what each member of a firm is supposed to do and how that differs from other employees. However, many firms use pre-existing “industry” job titles that sometimes don’t apply to a specific job in their firm. For instance, I frequently see the title of “associate advisor” used for what, in reality, is a client service job. This creates confusion among management, other employees and the employee him- or herself about what job he or she is supposed to be doing. When those expectations don’t meet the reality of the job, it can appear that a very good employee isn’t doing their job — when, in fact, they are.

Pre-existing expectations. When they hire a new employee, most owners have a pretty clear notion not only of what the job is, but also how it should be done — which is usually based on how they would do it or how a former employee did it. The problem is that no two people have the same mental skill sets or the same approach to problem solving. If they want their employees to succeed at their jobs, owners and managers need to give them leeway to do their job their way, not someone else’s way.

Projected motives or behaviors. Most new employees are hired to take the place of a former employee. When that employee had left the firm or was let go under a “cloud” of one kind or another, it’s not unusual for the owner to fear the new employee will behave the same way. It’s pretty obvious why this is unfair. What’s more, starting a new job is stressful enough: When you add a level of undeserved distrust, it can be overwhelming. Owners need to deal with their own baggage and give other employees the benefit of the doubt.

Failing to adequately train or to equip. Without the tools they need to succeed at their jobs, employees are set up to fail. This includes training about how the firm operates as well as what they need to know to succeed at their jobs. These days, it means having the right technology. As a rule of thumb, technology is cheaper than people. And you’ll need fewer people if they have the technology to tap into all the resources they need inside and outside of your firm. Today’s clients want technology interfaces, and you can meet those demands best when your employees are as tech savvy as your clients.

Failing to understand what employees really want. Many firm owners assume what their employees want, often based on what they themselves want. But people work for many different reasons, which often don’t include more money or career advancement. To motivate employees, you have to know what motivates them. Asking them is a start, but to really find out, watch for what makes them happy, what they smile about. Listen to when words match their actions — that’s how you know what they really want.


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Steps for Onboarding

A full orientation is essential for fully assimilating new employees to your agency—and, ultimately, to their success as a representative of your firm. 1) Develop a formal plan. Build a comprehensive, organized onboarding plan and timeline for the new hire. The onboarding plan should: • Identify all critical knowledge elements the employee must acquire. • Register all operational elements they must understand and execute. • Document all critical background and historical contexts they need for efficient and effective performance. An effectively designed onboarding plan expands the new hire’s knowledge beyond their own practice, creating opportunities to not only meet and greet but engage with other individuals from the other practices or service teams. A holistic menu of what the agency offers creates a culture of collaboration from day one—and it can prove beneficial down the road. 2)

Don’t curb the enthusiasm. The traditional orientation process is fine, but it lacks passion, and it fails to give new employees enough opportunity to interact and engage with the content. The best orientations for today’s worker offer extensive interaction with a firm’s value proposition and strategy, including specifics about competitive advantages in the agency’s territory and markets. Giving a new salesperson an assignment to research and articulate your agency’s value proposition is an excellent, self-paced task for not only acquiring the necessary perspectives on operations, but also engaging with multiple internal resources. The process builds relationships across the agency, giving the new hire access to a range of valid perspectives on what drives agency success.


Gauge existing knowledge and skill level. Next comes a big challenge: accurately understanding the new employee’s knowledge, skills and competencies. While professional designations and certifications are decent indicators of previously acquired professional knowledge, how the employee has used and leveraged their knowledge and skills in prior jobs can also be influenced by the environment of their prior agency.


Compare and contrast. As you compile a summary of the new hire’s knowledge and skills through ongoing discussions and interactions over their first weeks, you should also compare that summary with known job requirements. Most should already be codified in job descriptions, but your active engagement with the new hire will likely generate important customized knowledge and skills that will flesh out the original job description. For example, the role may have unique elements related to the type of accounts or territory the new hire will be responsible for. Ultimately, the two-step process of compiling detailed knowledge and skills, then crossreferencing those elements to exact job needs, will serve both the new hire and manager well. The manager obtains an advanced set of validated expectations, while the new employee receives a detailed breakdown of most critical elements of the job.


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5) Sustain the enthusiasm. Providing encouragement and observations immediately will set the pattern for future feedback discussions. After that, hiring is an investment that requires attention. Set up time each week to meet with the new recruit—you may have them accompany you to client visits or meetings, but that’s no substitute for one-on-one time. At most agencies, full orientation to a book of business happens over the 12-month renewal cycle. Regardless of account similarities, the full profile of accounts and the multitude of relationships involved with both clients and carriers is not complete until the producer has handled all renewals. And in addition to the account work, the new employee is still building cross-departmental relationships and skillsets during that first year. Even with solid introductions to all resources and experts at the beginning, a relationship isn’t strong until a new employee regularly works with others to solve issues at hand. Once these relationships actualize, your new hire will achieve significantly higher job productivity—as well as job satisfaction. With this combination clients get better service, the new salesperson gains confidence and feels appreciated, and the agency team becomes stronger and more effective.

Leaderboards, Points and Prizes Agency Performance Drivers

The gamification movement within the insurance industry is already proving to be a powerful tool for insurers to adopt customer-centric business models. Game mechanics such as leaderboards, points and prizes can drive more meaningful levels of engagement among agents, transforming otherwise onerous tasks into interesting and fun experiences while delivering educational material along the way Gamification, which taps into users’ sense of competition and achievement, applies game mechanics and game design techniques to spur engagement. Key Elements: •

Keep it simple. If there are too many layers and hoops to jump through, participation numbers drop. Ensure a valuable user experience. The key is to test the user interface prior to launch. This is a top priority, especially for a campaign that hinges on an interactive platform. Provide educational entertainment. Agents are choosing to participate, so it's important to translate educational content into entertainment to keep them engaged.

Empowering The Team For a group of people to remain consciously competent and performing at optimum levels, they require frequent injections of stimulation, motivational guidance, coaching, prompting and directing, otherwise, they can easily lapse into becoming unconsciously competent or worse yet, unconsciously incompetent. Successful insurance agencies believe in their people, encourage them to achieve excellence and they release them to do it. Just as important as each team member's skill sets, emphasis must also be placed on building a team that is culturally diverse, inclusive and with multilingual individuals. Imagine your dream team: a diverse group of people with different skills and abilities all working together to achieve the same goals. Keep in mind that people want to be recognized, appreciated and rewarded. Look for ways to add fun and profit to your plan to meet and exceed goals. getting everyone engaged in the agency’s success through goal-setting and teamwork. Continued on Page 21


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HR for Insurance Agents Independent insurance agency owners wear many hats, and it’s likely that “HR manager” is one of them. Most agencies aren’t large enough to justify a full-time Human Resources Manager, yet it’s an extremely important and complex aspect of your business. Employees are one of your greatest assets and employee salaries and benefits make up a huge chunk of your operating expense. So how do you best protect and manage that asset? What is Human Resources Management?

Human Resources Management (HRM) deals with all aspects of your employees and among other things encompasses: • • • • • •

Hiring Performance management and reviews Employee development, motivation, and training Safety and wellness Benefits Communication between employees and/or management

HR Basics

HR is rife with laws and regulations, which is why small businesses put off dealing with it. Some prefer to outsource it, but there’s no getting around it completely. Generally for agencies with less than 50 employees, there are basic things you must implement to cover the bases: 1) Employee Files: You must keep three specific files for each employee in your business. These files are:  I-9 File: This form is used by the U.S. Government to identify and verify that your

employees are eligible to work in the U.S. Keep all of your employee I-9 files together, in one file, instead of under individual employee names.  Employee General File: This is a file you create for your own benefit. It contains any

documentation associated with that employee that you’ve collected during their time with you. This includes resumes, reviews, disciplinary action, training verification, evaluations, W-4 forms, payroll details, and so on. You’ll use this file often.  Employee Medical File: These files will contain notes from doctors, disability information,

and any medical information that you have on an employee. Because you are dealing with medical information, you must protect and secure these files from others. That is why these are separate from general files. Be sure to keep them in a locked and secure place.


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2) Employee Handbook: Having an employee handbook is a must. Your handbook serves two important purposes: letting your employees know what you expect of them, and protecting your business in case there is a dispute. An employee handbook can be as simple or as complex as you want, but there are some general approaches, depending upon the nature of your business, that you need to consider. According to the Small Business Administration, your handbook might include: 

NDNA: Some industries will benefit from having employees sign non-disclosure agreements, but it isn’t applicable to all businesses. If you have trade secrets to protect, use it.

Anti-Discrimination Policies: If your business is in the U.S., discuss how you will comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, as well as with other employment discrimination laws.

Safety and Security: Lay out your policies on how you will keep employees feeling safe at work, both physically and emotionally. U.S. businesses should discuss compliance with OSHA, as well as your own policies on bad weather and emergency situations, video surveillance, and so on. You should also include what you expect from your employees in this regard, including using passwords on computers, locking doors, using mobile devices to take photos of co-workers or the office and publishing those photos online, or reporting threatening behavior.

Compensation and Benefits: Define the benefits that you provide your employees, both those required by law and others that are unique to your business. Let them know how to receive the benefits, and what is required of them. Outline salary or compensation levels, and what it takes to get there.

Work Schedules, Vacation, and Leave: Outline your business’s policy on schedules, absences, lateness, vacation and leave, absenteeism, special requests, and so on. If you allow telecommuting, indicate clearly what is acceptable. Even if you have a “flexible” work schedule, you need to write down any expectations you have of your employees.

Standards of Conduct: This might include dress code, behavior, online and computer use during work hours, use of mobile devices during work hours, ethics, legal aspects, and other similar topics. Outline the repercussions of breaking the standard of conduct so employees see it in writing. This is necessary if an issue arises later.

General Employment Information: Your business will have its own policies and procedures apart from what the law requires. Clearly define what your policies are on work ethic, promotions, employee reviews, termination, referrals, employee records, and so on.

Be sure your employee has received a copy, reads it, and signs a statement acknowledging that they received, read, and understand the employee handbook, and put that statement in their file. 3) Display Required Posters: Depending on the laws of the country and/or state your business is in, you may be required to post information in an easily accessible place. You want to work with a local government agency or legal counsel to make sure you have met the requirements.


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Avoid These Mistakes

1) The hiring process is overly hasty. From poor job descriptions that attract lessthan-stellar candidates to a hurried interview process that results in hiring “warm bodies,” hiring mistakes can be detrimental to business. In fact, 27 percent of more than 6,000 HR professionals reported a single bad hire costing more than $50,000, according to a 2013 CareerBuilder survey.

HR Resources State of Texas Texas Workforce Commission Recruitment & Hiring Resources For Small Business Employment Law Unemployment Tax Workforce Training Post Jobs & Search Resumes Download Employee Rights Poster

2) Employees are misclassified. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been known to target small businesses in an effort to find employers who misclassify employees as “contractors.” To avoid the penalties that result from misclassifying employees for tax reasons, get familiar with what differentiates an employee from a contractor. 3) Employee handbook is outdated (or non-existent). 4) Employee training takes a backseat.

Society of Human Resource Management: SHRM U.S. Department of Labor: DOL Hiring Veterans: From Boots to Briefcase

5) Performance issues aren’t documented.

Messy fires can lead to unwanted lawsuits. While no termination is a positive one, it can be easier when properly prepared for. That preparation starts by addressing and documenting performance-related issues. When performance problems arise, aim to nip them in the bud by addressing them during performance check-ins. This gives employees an opportunity to correct the issue. What happens when that feedback doesn’t solve the problem? Sometimes terminations are unavoidable, but going about them the right way can avoid any unwanted issues. The key is to thoroughly document employee performance problems. It may seem timeconsuming, but it can serve as valuable evidence should a termination be necessary. See source information for this article on page 24 Are You Holding Your Customers Accountable?, continued from Page 15

› Interaction with customers involving key information. An added benefit: Make “enhancing customer accountability” one of your agency’s goals. In addition to better protecting your agency from E&O claims, you may find your agency writing more business as well. The material contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not for purposes of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice. The Dream Team, continued from Page 18

Set different levels of goals: company, team and individual, and establish appropriate awards for each. This helps build a high level of esprit de corps, ensuring that each team member feels appreciated and rewarded for their contributions to the overall success. See source information for this article on page 24 TEXAS CONNECTION - TEXAS PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE AGENTS DIGITAL JOURNAL

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Millennials + Insurance Careers = Optimism , continued from Page 12

Try overlooked sources: Rather than the typical, but short-sighted, strategy of stealing from other agencies, look for leads as many places as possible. Build a strong internal pipeline and work through “centers of influence” such as carriers, local trade partners and social media. Build a relationship with your area schools for a source of future hires. And consider other nontraditional sources that specialize in helping veterans in the workplace getting everyone engaged in the agency’s success through goal-setting and teamwork. Set different levels of goals: company, team and individual, and establish appropriate awards for each. This helps build a high level of esprit de corps, ensuring that each team member feels appreciated and rewarded for their contributions to the overall success.

Tune up the technology: Advances in technology are happening in our industry, but not fast enough for young agents. “We desperately need technology that will make it 10 times faster to do new business and service tasks on commercial and personal lines in order to even remain relevant,” wrote a concerned young agent. “NOBODY is building this for us”.

Make mentoring part of the culture: Mentors are especially useful for new hires straight out of school, who need one-on-one coaching and someone to “give them a clear picture of what success looks like,” Bourke says. The most effective mentors are close in age to the young hires they’re mentoring, and must also be accountable for the hire’s performance. Best of all, mentoring is a two-way street, as mentors frequently learn a lot from their mentees.

See source information for this article on page 24

SAVE THE DATE May 17 - 19, 2018 2018 Texas PIA Annual Convention & Expo Arlington Sheraton Hotel & Arlington Convention Center Arlington, TX


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Source Materials: Employment Trends in the Insurance Industry “One in four insurance agents will be gone by 2018”, by Caitlin Bronson, February 23, 2015, Insurance Business America “Independent Insurance Agents Face Looming Workforce Gap”, June 1, 2017, Precise Leads “The future of work in insurance”, by David Hollander and Charlie Mihalik, August 1, 2017, “Why diversity matters”, by Elizabeth Myatt, June 5, 2017, “Employment trends throughout the insurance industry in April 2017”, by Denny Jacob, June 8, 2017, My Generation “10 ways for insurance agents to engage Gen Xers”, by Olivia Mellan & Sherry Christie, May 1, 2017, “Meet the up-and-coming Generation Z”, by Jack Craver, May 4, 2016, “Understanding the baby boom generation and what they need from you”, by Olivia Mellan & Sherry Christie, July 17, 2017, “Common Characteristics of Generation X Professionals”, by Sally Kane, February 2, 2017, The Balance “Millennials Managing Up: How to Work With Your Boomer Boss”, by Sarah Albro and Anne Collier, Association Career HQ “Baby Boomers in the Workplace”, by Sally Kane, February 22, 2017, The Balance My Generation, continued “Thinking millennial: How to woo the largest generation”, by Olivia Mellan & Sherry Christie, March 2, 2017, “Millennials: Reaching a new generation of employees and customers”, by Kristen Hein, May 23, 2017, “Characteristics of Millenials in the Workplace”, by Terri Klass and Judy Lindenberger, Attract Top Talent “Tips from 7 top insurance agents on recruiting new talent”, by Rosalie L. Donlon, June 1, 2017, “Attract Employees by Offering Flexibility, Philanthropy: Survey”, May 17, 2017, Carrier Management Millennials + Insurance Careers = Optimism “Why Young Insurance Agents Are So Optimistic”, by Andrea Wells, December 29, 2016, “11 ways to attract and keep young talent”, by Laura Mazzuca Toops, November 6, 2014, “Young Agents Want the Tech Tools Needed to Compete Against InsurTechs”, by Andrea Wells, April 10, 2017, “10 reasons why an insurance career is great for millennials”, by Liz Aguinaga, February 3, 2017, The Right Stuff “The Ironclad Laws of Attracting and Keeping Top Sales Talent”, by Logan Strain, September 1, 2015, “The single biggest trait of a sales winner”, by Jonathan Farrington, January 18, 2017, The Dream Team “Leaderboards, points and prizes can drive agency performance”, by Trey Shipp, January 23, 2017, “Set up to fail: Bosses create problem employees more often than you think”, by Angie Herbers, April 18, 2017, “Finding the right prospect”, by Rosalie L. Donlon, July 14, 207, “How to empower others to reach greater levels of insurance agency success”, by Brent Kelly, June 28, 2017, “Building your insurance agency ‘dream team’ in 2017”, by Barry Seigerman, January 19, 2017, “Developing-New-Leaders-and-Onboarding-New-Hires PDF”, NewLevelPartners “How to build the best insurance sales team”, by Jonathan Farrington, March 16, 2017, HR for Insurance Agents “The Complete Guide to Human Resources for Small Business”, by Rob Wormley, June 3, 2015,, People Management “Avoid These 5 Small-Business HR Mistakes”, by Andre Lavoie, April 14, 2015,


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Texas News Round-Up Former San Antonio Insurance Agent Sentenced to 5 Years for Fraud Dermaine Clark of San Antonio has been sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay more than $45,000 for a string of insurance fraud cases, the Texas Department of Insurance announced...more Growing Number of Typhus Cases Being Found in Texas Texas is seeing a growing number of cases of typhus, a disease that was thought to be almost eradicated in the U.S. Texas Department of State Health Services data show there were more than 360 typhus cases in the state last year, compared to 30 cases in 2003...more Texas Surplus Lines Stamping Office Website to Begin Redirect The Surplus Lines Stamping Office (SLTX) announced that beginning Aug. 1, users who visit the website,, will be automatically redirected to the new SLTX website at Texas Senate OKs Bill That Preempts Local Texting While Driving Rules The Texas Senate has approved a beefed-up texting while driving ban that preempts existing local ordinances against distracted driving in 45 cities statewide...more Texas Bill Allows More Flexibility in Employee Health Benefit Plans Small employers in Texas may now get some flexibility in selecting and retaining the health benefit plan of their choosing for their employees following the passage of a bill in the regular session of the Texas Legislature...more

Texas Seeks Applicants for Medical Liability Insurance Underwriting Board The Texas Department of Insurance is accepting applications through August 31 for the public member positions on the Texas Medical Liability Insurance Underwriting Association Board of Directors. The appointment is for one year...more Team Work Ready Execs Sentenced in Federal Workers’ Comp Fraud Scheme Two officials with Team Work Ready (TWR), with chiropractic and physical therapy clinics in Texas and Louisiana, have been sentenced for defrauding the federal Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs and United States Postal Service, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas announced...more Texas Bill Would Change Workers’ Comp Medical Causation Report Law A medical causation narrative report is one created by a doctor that explains a causal connection, if any, between a compensable workplace injury and the diagnoses or conditions specified in the insurance carrier’s plain language notice disputing the extent of the injured employee’s compensable injury. A bill filed in the Texas House of Representatives would amend the state’s law relating to medical causation narrative reports created under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act...more Verisk: Texas 2nd in Number of Households at Risk for Wildfire The 2017 Verisk Wildfire Risk Analysis shows that Texas is ranked second behind California for the number of households at high or extreme risk from wildfire...more

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