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  • Rob Houghton

The Great Talent Shortage: Fact or Fiction?


One word: Fiction. There is no shortage of talent. You just have to be prepared to pay for it.


Let me explain.


Prospective Client One: Earlier this year, a prospective new client called and promptly asked me, “Rob, where have all the workers gone…we are going to have to curtail operations unless you can find us some talented staff – and fast…can you help us?”


After some initial back and forth discussion on the position requirements, benefits, etc., I asked about the compensation level for each of the positions. He went on to explain that they had a specific range of compensation set for each of the positions gleaned from a recent nationwide salary survey that he had come across for the insurance industry.


I asked if there was any wiggle room for a peak performer and he said emphatically, “NO.” I asked if he was willing to pay more for top talent and he said, “We don’t have the budget to go outside this range.” I asked how many of his staff he would consider to be truly, “top talent” and flatly responded, “none.”


I pushed back and tried to explain, but he shut me down. I told him, “Thanks, but no thanks…I cannot help you.”


I received a call this past Friday from a senior account manager with this same firm who is now looking to exit. I asked her the reason. Her response was immediate, “we can’t seem to find good people to fill the vacant positions and I am now doing the work of three account managers…I have had enough…I have decided to leave this firm. Please help me.”


And this is how organizations die a slow death. They are willing or able to recruit and retain top talent.


Client Two: In early January 2022, in a client board meeting, I was asked by the attending CFO if I could help them retool for the coming year in two key departments: 1) Sales and 2 Account Management. I told them, “Absolutely.” The CFO asked me what would be necessary, from a staffing standpoint, to build and grow these departments while also expanding bottom-line profitability.


I told him two things: 1) Top Talent and 2) Accountability. I remember reviewing the compensation expectations for these specific positions during the meeting and the board discovering that they had significantly underestimated what top talent would cost them…and their requirements were specific: top talent.


After carefully listening to the conversations around the table, the Chairman finally spoke. Everyone listened. I remember his words as if I had been transported back in time to that day. He said, “Rob, I want you to go out and find us the crème de la crème of insurance talent out there. Find them. Talk with them. Sell them our vision. And I will pay them whatever they believe they’re worth. Better yet, take them out of my competitors. I want to win. I want to take this to the next level.


And so I did. During 2022, we placed nine top talented individuals with this client. Were the compensation levels more than the salary surveys indicated? Absolutely. By how much? I calculated the difference for the purposes of this article. 10.73%. That’s it. In most cases, it doesn’t take much to grab that peak performer.


Spread over these nine new placements the total incremental cost was $135,750. What were the incremental sales and client gains identified from just these individuals? Yep. The client had this already calculated. $613,500 so far in 2022 related to incremental sales and carrier profits-sharing payouts, and increased client retention.


This summary analysis was enclosed as part of a nice Christmas card personally addressed to me by the Chairman. This is someone who has a lot to celebrate this year.


And someone who understands that Top Talent rules the corporate world now.


Warmest,

Rob



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