It’s the WAHVE of the future: pre-retirement jobs Expand the talent pool and retain industry knowledge
Meet Donna. She’s a member of the baby boomer generation, and she’s been a successful client account manager in the insurance industry for more than 30 years. She’s tired of working full time and wants to change her lifestyle. She also has elderly parents for whom she is responsible, and she wants to spend more time with her children and grandchildren. But she’s not ready to give up working completely.
Meet Larry. He owns a successful insurance agency with a staff of 12 people, and he’d like to add one more person, but not full time. He’d also like that person to be someone with experience in insurance and in business, and he prefers someone U.S-based, even though he’s considered the option of outsourcing.
These are perfect candidates for WAHVE (Work at Home Vintage Employees), a company that bridges the gap between the insurance firm’s staffing needs and experienced insurance professionals who want to phase into retirement or no longer want full-time work. Founded in 2010 by Sharon Emek, Ph.D., CIC, WAHVE matches insurance firms that need help with insurance professionals who are looking to remain productive and want an opportunity for a continued career working from home.
“The insurance industry is recognizing that employees don’t have to be in an office to get their jobs done,” Emek says. “And baby boomers are tech-savvy enough to use the Internet and computers. Most of them e-mail their families and Skype with their grandchildren.” That’s all they really need to be successful remote workers, she adds.
Creative ways to keep talent
Baby boomers have lots of knowledge to share. (Emek calls them “pre-retirees.”) One in five adults in the U.S. is age 55 or older, she points out, “and we’re living to 90 or 100.” The normal retirement age of 65 was part of the original Social Security Act in 1935, when a person’s lifespan was much shorter. Now, employees might be looking to slow down but they often want—or need—to continue to work into their 70s and 80s.
WAHVE has more than 250 insurance professionals working from home as independent contractors with insurance firms, ranging from one person at a small, four-person agency to 20 at a large insurance brokerage with 4,400 employees and more than 140 offices. There is no average size client, she says. The insurance industry as a whole is looking for talent of any age.
About 65% of WAHVE’s clients hire part-time staff, working about 25 to 30 hours per week. During busier times, such as renewal season, the client might add hours or another person.
Passing the testBefore adding an insurance professional to the roster, Emek vets them thoroughly. The applicants have to demonstrate their knowledge of insurance and use of technology. The application is granular, she says, asking in-depth questions about the type of insurance experience the applicants have as well as the length of time in various positions. This level of detail allows Emek, who describes her company as a Match.com for the insurance profession, to find the right person to do back-office support, customer service and account management, underwriting or claims processing. She even has one person working as an insurance company controller.
Insurance firms are adopting the concept of outsourcing work overseas in growing numbers. Several use service firms based in India to manage some level of claims processing.
Mentoring the next generation
There is a lot of knowledge that experienced insurance professionals can give back, especially to younger members of the profession, Emek says. She often recommends that her clients use the workers she finds for them as mentors to millennials or others new to the industry. “Experienced professionals have great networks that they can access when they need help or information,” she points out. “They also can teach millennials how to network effectively and build their own resources.”
With their wealth of experience, the WAHVE professionals can help spread the word that insurance isn’t boring; it’s about understanding and managing risk. She also says she believes that WAHVE professionals can help millennials understand that all risk is becoming global, and this is an exciting, challenging industry of which to be a part.
StaffLink, another option for brokersVantage Agora (VA), a firm that provides outsourcing services to the insurance industry, has created StaffLink, a new managed staffing service targeted to mid-sized and large insurance brokers. VA selected WAHVE to provide the U.S.-based experienced insurance professionals to supervise VA’s India-based insurance processing staff.
Emek explained that companies are concerned about the quality of work done by outsourced workers overseas. “What brokers need is not just low-cost, efficient workflow and processing, but also the confidence that the work is getting done accurately and efficiently. StaffLink is an opportunity for WAHVE to provide brokers with highly experienced ‘vintage’ insurance professionals to manage these overseas resources at a significant cost-savings.”
When a firm engages StaffLink, its higher level processing work is done by a U.S.-based WAHVE insurance professional who also manages the lower level processes done by VA workers in India—a substantial costs savings for most companies.
“StaffLink provides a domestic solution,” Emek says, “to the concerns many companies have when sending work overseas.” The firm can be confident that an experienced U.S. insurance professional is managing the work and key details won’t be overlooked.