According to a 2018 Gallup study, only 34% of the American workforce feels engaged at work. Now, a new study from the University of Missouri has found that companies that attend to employee fulfillment can improve not only morale and prevent turnover, but also enhance customer satisfaction, including repurchase intentions. The relation between employee engagement and customer satisfaction is strong in any industry, but this connection is especially important in the insurance industry. Your clients rely heavily on you to help them through oftentimes overwhelming or emotionally-charged experiences. Hence, as the owner of an independent insurance agency, it’s essential for you to make sure your employees stay engaged to build and maintain successful customer relationships. In this week’s Broker Tool Belt, we share why insurance agency employee engagement is key to drive growth, and how you can stay competitive in an industry with low switching costs.
Why employee engagement is key to drive insurance agency growth
Below, we share the two main reasons why insurance agencies that want to stay competitive need to view employee engagement as a strategic business objective.
Better Customer Experience
Engaged employees tend to be more productive and their turnover is lower, allowing for a more consistent customer experience. Today, when it comes to purchasing insurance, business decision makers have more options than ever before. Their expectations are at an all-time high and they want fast, personalized service. But when you meet their needs and client satisfaction is high, churn decreases and revenue grows. According to Salesforce, “80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its product/services.” Deliver a meaningful customer experience, and you’ll be set up for long term profits.
We know that employees who are not engaged in their current work are more prone to leave their employer. Imagine a scenario in which you have employees starting and then leaving your agency at a high frequency. How might this employee attrition impact your business? When your clients’ point of contact changes constantly, their trust in your agency will decrease and they’ll be more open to switching. Knowing that it costs seven to nine times more for an insurance agency to attract a new customer than to retain one, why risk this potential loss?
On the other hand, when your clients communicate regularly with the same person, someone who is hardworking and involved in the ins and outs of the agency, the service they receive will be better and the experience will be more satisfying overall. Insurance agencies who can scalably activate the power of lasting relationships and make it part of their operating model are guaranteed to see more positive gains. Clients that are satisfied tend to stay with their broker longer, are more likely to purchase multiple policies, and are more apt to provide referrals that will grow your bottom line.
When employees are engaged, they focus on high-quality work—not exclusively on selling to increase their commission. While selling is certainly important, it shouldn’t be the main focus. Employees who invest in the work they do will ultimately do better servicing your clients. Businesses are looking for a reassuring, trustworthy experience, and an engaged employee at your agency is the best bet to demonstrate confidence and competence.
Employees who are engaged will go above and beyond, they will be invested in the success of the agency, and they will work harder. Alternatively, disengaged employees are more likely to only do the bare minimum to get by. By investing in employee engagement, your agency will be able to increase productivity, positively impact work quality, and keep top talent. If you are working hard to attract exceptional employees with the right skills, don’t stop there—keep working to create a better work environment for them.
How can you increase employee engagement?
Now that we know why insurance agency employee engagement is important, we can highlight some tactics you can implement today to start increasing your employee satisfaction.
Give Employees a Voice
If you want your agency to succeed as an organization, your employees must feel heard. Give them the chance to express their perspectives, concerns, or ideas without fear. By doing so, your employees will feel that they have the ability to influence decisions through their feedback. As a result, they will be more likely to get involved in operational decisions and to ensure that plans are executed successfully, regardless of whether or not their suggestions were used.
- Start by giving them a voice. Employees must be able to have honest conversations with you. They need to feel comfortable sharing their concerns.
- Gather everyone to be part of the brainstorming and feedback process. Your employees will be more engaged in the success of a program if they are part of the process of developing it.
- Be as transparent as possible about your thoughts and the changes you might want to implement.
The concept of work-life balance doesn’t function the same way it used to. It’s not realistic to think that your employees’ personal life fails to exist from 9 to 5, and that your work fails to exist after 5 p.m. How many times have you run into a client in the grocery store or the local hardware store? Have you gone to a baseball game and sat next to someone who is looking to change their insurance policy? Similarly, your employees are going to need to attend school events or doctor appointments during work hours.
Invest in the technology and tools you need to allow your employees to work when and where they need to. Your concern shouldn’t be if somebody is at their desk, but if your clients are being taken care of. For example, phone calls need to be answered or returned even if it’s 6 p.m and they’ve already gone home. Allow flexibility in the office and you’ll see productivity increase too.
Insurance Agency Employee Engagement during COVID-19
Finally, as you’ve observed when helping your clients adapt to the new normal, the pandemic has irrevocably altered the workplace. To a greater or lesser extent, your insurance agency is also feeling the COVID-19 impact and you’ve had to move and shift priorities quickly in order to survive. In response to the pandemic, brokers have changed how they work with clients, but also the way they operate their business internally. From office operations to client interaction, everything has become more challenging.
Consequently, focusing on your own employees is now more important than ever. Holistic, well-rounded wellness programs and greater reliance on technology will be critical this year to keep employees engaged. Companies, including yours, will need to start planning now for how they will safely bring their employees back together. In the meantime, until your office can open up again, create an internal approach to maintain or even increase your insurance agency employee engagement:
Your employees’ work has become more difficult by not being able to host in-person meetings or drop off and collect forms. Put in place an agile benefits administration technology solution that empowers your team to run the business online and enables them to deliver greater value to your clients.
By eliminating the office environment from the equation, work has become more isolated and collaborating is not as easy as it used to be. Your employees are craving more personal and authentic human connections. Daily workforce updates on well-being, ongoing care packages to help employees create the environment they need, and online engagement activities are some of the resources for you to keep your team motivated and engaged.
Final Thoughts About Insurance agency Employee Engagement
If you want your agency to grow and improve, work on yourself as a leader, bring employees in, and care for them the same way you care for your clients. You can do so much alone, but when you have a team of engaged employees who love what they do, you can do so much more. This year, it’s more important than ever to create that workspace culture where employees feel like their work is meaningful, are appreciated, and have room for growth. The pandemic has left us feeling stuck and unmotivated. The lack of excitement could be affecting your employees in ways you only can start to imagine. Insurance agency employee engagement is here to stay, because when employees feel engaged, they are better able to care for clients.