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  • Rob Houghton

4 Big Trends from 2016

Each year following the issuance of our annual and semi-annual salary survey, I usually receive a number of calls from hiring authorities asking me what the critical success factors and trends have been over the previous year for hiring and retaining top talent. Here are the Big Four trends that we have observed through the first six months of 2016:


1) Telecommuting: Six months ago I had an epiphany. Telecommuting. This is what most of the top talent is looking for now. It is the #1 key to attracting extraordinary talent that would not be otherwise available to you. Six months ago I had a client hiring authority who had an emergency need for a very senior commercial lines account manager to take over a recently vacated book due to a medical emergency. We have always had the most difficult of times attracting top talent for this firm because of their congested location and the fact that it is a small, family-run shop. She said, “Rob, find me the absolute best talent out there and I will let them telecommute three days per week.” I emailed this position (with “telecommuting” highlighted) and received 57 qualified resumes within 48 hours. Some from candidates I had been tracking for more than five years. I had folks from Virginia Beach and Baltimore applying! We had seven A+ account managers in the interview process within a week and five who she had a hard time choosing as a finalist. The candidate who accepted the offer is someone I thought would never leave her firm. If not for telecommuting, none of these candidates who have given this position a second look. Both hiring authority and candidate are happy as can be six months later.


2) Potential versus Experience: Many of my clients are now placing less emphasis on standardized testing including personality testing for producers. Why? Because as Hall of Fame NFL football coach Bill Parcells once said, “Potential will get you fired. It means you haven’t done it yet”. We keep track of the critical success factors relating to producer retention rates from our clients through a 360 degree feedback process. By a margin of 8:1, experience wins out over hiring on potential.


3) The role of Grit: We are recognizing “grit” as a critical success factor increasingly in successful hiring practices with our clients, particularly, on the sales side. I actually did some research and found that University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth has spent an academic lifetime studying grit and her studies concluded that grit is a truer indicator of success than talent, itself. In fact, military academies and special operations components are now benchmarking and testing incoming entrants to see if they have enough grit to make it through the initial stressful phases of the program. High SAT/GRE scores and IQ quotients are strong indicators of long term success, but grit is a stronger indicator that an individual will persevere and not quit the program. As actor and philosopher, Woody Allen, once said, “80% of success is just showing up!”


4) Embrace the Millennials: Hardly a week passes when a hiring authority doesn’t ask me, “where is all the young talent in the insurance industry?” Well, it’s not like it is disappearing…it can be found in retail, technology, financial services, government contracting, etc. But not insurance. Why not? Because insurance firms have always had a difficult time relating to millennials. Let’s face it, insurance is not a sexy business. Millennials demand three distinct things in the workplace. To recruit and retain top Millennial talent you must provide: a. Transparency: Millennials are tech-driven and used to instant access to everything. They demand the same transparency in the workplace. b. Respect: Sure, money is important, but respect is even more important to millennials. In case you haven’t noticed, we live in an increasingly uncivil and disrespectful society. Chat rooms and message boards are scary places. Ever check out your kid’s Facebook or other social media? Respect on these mediums is virtually non-existent. So show your employees a little extra respect and you will be rewarded. c. Purpose: Give them a reason for being there…for showing up for work every day. There are a million distractions in a day in the life of a millennial so make sure your goals and strategy are consistently and clearly communicated to your employees and they will respond. In an increasingly cluttered and distracted society, you want them to Focus, Focus, and Focus while at work. Give them a reason for doing so. A reason for being there. As always, your feedback is welcomed. Next salary survey? January 2017. Forever your trusted servant, Rob Houghton

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