Licensed healthcare insurance agents are hard to find and retain. Turnover is high, agents are expensive, and recruitment costs are higher than ever. To remain competitive and ensure they have the most qualified agents on board, companies need to implement innovative recruitment and engagement strategies.

Here are five approaches our licensing clients use to hire and keep licensed agents.

  1. Don’t hire a license. Hire for quality.

Right now, most top-tier licensed, experienced agents are either happy where they are or they’re too expensive. Even if they are happy, it’s not unlikely they’ll jump ship for an extra 50 cents an hour or less. Right now, there are 152 job postings for every one licensed agent candidate. That means each agent has their pick of 152 jobs to choose from. Competition among employers is intense.

Limiting your candidate pool to just licensed agents also eliminates many potential employees from your search. A smarter approach is to focus on finding quality candidates with the right skill set and cultural fit for your organization. Once these candidates are identified, they can then go through the process to obtain their licenses. Newly licensed agents are a more affordable option without sacrificing quality.

  1. Sometimes the best salespeople are non-sales-y people.

The role of healthcare insurance agents has evolved over the years. They’re essentially salespeople. Typically, the word “salesperson” elicits an image of a fast-talking, gregarious person who commands the center of attention. However, studies have shown that extroverts are less successful at making sales than people with more moderate social temperaments. And in high-volume call center environments, persistence – a quality typically found in introverts – was more important to success than sociability, which is usually associated with extroverts.

  1. Try before you buy

Before making a full-time hire, bring candidates on for a temporary project or on a contract-to-hire basis. Large insurance companies typically need thousands of call center agents during their Annual Enrollment Period. Working with a staffing company to fill these seats gives you opportunity to review employees’ performance commitment-free.

  1. Be a company that people want to work for.

We are in a candidate-driven market. There are a variety of incentives employers can offer to make candidates want to come work for them and stay.

  • Flexible work schedules. Happy employees may leave a job if it doesn’t offer some type of flexible working arrangement. Schedule options that offer remote work, flex time, compressed work weeks and job sharing are important retention strategies to consider.
  • Non-pay incentives. Pay rates are important, but they are only one piece of the compensation package. Competitive benefits are also a factor, as are paid time off, commission options and opportunities for growth.
  • Cultural fit. According to a recent LinkedIn study, 70% of people would not work at a leading company if it meant they had to tolerate bad workplace culture. A good staffing partner will work with you to understand your culture, so every candidate they send your way is a fit.
  1. Always be hiring.

Don’t wait until right before your AEP to start hiring agents. Hiring early gives you access to the best available candidates. Supply is limited; get to candidates before your competitors do. Your agents will also be much more productive and profitable is they’re fully oriented before your AEP starts. You want them past the learning curve by the time your busy season gets underway.