The insurance industry needs help, lots of help. By 2020, it’s predicted that we’ll have 400,000 open positions. Of course, we’ve been talking about the talent shortage for years; it’s not new news. But we’ve primarily limited our worried conversations to industry events and within our individual agencies.

Jon Loftin is the president and COO of MJ Insurance.

At MJ Insurance, it’s been our goal for years now to really target young professionals and highlight the incredible career opportunities we can offer. We started by first considering the industry from an outsider’s perspective. Why weren’t young people interested, not even a little? Simply put, insurance seemed a boring, dead-end job. Not a career. Not a consideration for anyone enthusiastic about their future. Ouch, that hurt.

But here’s what we also knew: that perception didn’t have to be our reality, and with a little work and more community engagement and focused efforts, we could right the ship. We had two tasks. One was to create an engaging employee experience. The other was to share our story.

Engagement Matters

Focusing on employee needs has improved nearly everything about the MJ experience. It’s a simple equation – happy employees provide better customer service, and this boosts retention rates and long-term success and profitability. 

We started by letting our employees determine our direction. We put our Purpose in writing and made a commitment to delivering:

MJ exists to inspire the success, fulfillment, and well-being of each person we serve: our associates and their families, business partners, clients, and our community.

It’s a promise we repeat often and share with new talent prospects. To support our pledge, we emphasize our Five Key Passions: personal development; systems for success (giving people the technology and processes they need to succeed); inspiring leaders; exponential effect (or positive collaboration); and fun. While that last one may sound like just a throw-away, it carries just as much weight as the other passions. After all, as we explain, “Happiness is a choice. Bring your sense of humor and desire to have fun to work with you every day.”

Results Worth Believing

We didn’t treat the development of our purpose and five passions as just an exercise. We actively work every day to follow through; it’s that important.

• We offer education opportunities to every client and employee to help them stay up-to-date with trends and emerging risks. This includes InspireYOU, a client education series designed to engage and support discussion, and MJ YOUniversity, our employee personal and professional development program.

• MJ employees select the community organizations where we collectively focus our efforts, providing both financial support and approved volunteer time off.

• We don’t consider our agency a traditional top-down model either, instead encouraging collaboration on every level so everyone feels they have, and are appreciated for, their voice.

• We believe a more engaging employee experience also results when you offer workplace flexibility, current technology and physical office spaces that support collaboration as well as different work styles.

The Industry Sell

When selling your agency as a great place to work, don’t forget to discuss the industry too. Right now, only two percent of college grads admit any “interest” in entering insurance. So what should we be telling them to change their perception? For starters, we need be loud and proud that college risk management majors traditionally enjoy 100 percent employment rates following graduation. In addition, we have positions for a remarkable range of interests and talent sets, with something for every personality, whether competitive, nurturing, analytical or creative.

Perhaps our greatest selling point is that we take care of our neighbors. Never underestimate the appeal of this. It’s an important consideration for today’s job seekers.

Turn Up the Volume

Ultimately, it’s been heartening to learn that many people have simply overlooked our industry, not because we have a poor story to tell, but because we simply haven’t been telling it. It turns out that they’re intrigued by the opportunity — once they hear it. 

So if your agency has already done the hard work and created that engaging employee experience, it’s no longer the message itself that’s holding you back.

It’s time to turn up the volume. Our industry’s future is at stake.


Jon Loftin is the president and COO of MJ Insurance. The Phoenix office of MJ Insurance is located at 3900 E. Camelback Rd., Suite 225, Phoenix.