Here are the top news stories in talent & organization from this week. 

Insurance industry’s continuing talent challenge

Talent is the “secret sauce” for the transformation of the insurance industry, yet continues to remain elusive, according to EY Insurance Outlook 2020. “The generation coming out of school these days are all excited about working for some of the largest technology firms in the world,” Ed J. Majkowski, EY Americas insurance sector and advisory leader, told Insurance Business Magazine. “When they have to choose between working for a technology firm, a bank, or an insurance company, insurance almost always comes last.” EY’s stance is that insurers need to do much better at proactively communicating why the industry matters, what value it brings to society and the overall appeal of an insurance career. “If independent brokerages and agencies want to attract and retain the best talent, they have to operate faster in a digital environment; get products to market faster using digital capabilities; and partner with insurance companies who invest in the agent experience,” Majkowski said.

The three essential roles to fill for the future

The talent war is not just about finding the right people, but also about hiring for the future, claims Mandy Gilbert. “To outpace your competitors and stay in tune with your customers, you’ll need people with the foresight and skills to get you there,” she writes in an Inc. blog post. Gilbert predicts there will be three essential roles to fill in order for companies to future-proof their businesses: data scientist, growth marketing manager and employer brand strategist. “Data scientists have a unique blend of analytical and communication skills,” she writes. “This position spends their days solving complex problems for businesses with data-driven solutions (and let’s be real, every business runs on data-driven solutions).” Growth marketing managers are the ones that build out specific plans to increase customer acquisition and drive sales, while employer brand strategist focuses on the organization’s reputation. “We all know there is a huge demand for talent, which puts sought-after candidates in the driver’s seat,” Gilbert writes. “An employer brand strategist has access to tools that unveil the inner workings of a brand’s internal and external perception.” 

Micro-internships benefit underserved students and businesses

Micro-internships—short term, paid professional experiences—provide opportunities to underserved students to showcase their skills while helping businesses meet diversity and inclusion efforts, Jeffrey Moss argues. “Instead of thinking about freelancers as cheap labor to get menial tasks done or as an alternative to hiring, companies now recognize that these kinds of gigs provide an effective pathway to identify, assess, and engage potential candidates for summer internships or full-time roles,” Moss told MeiMei Fox in an interview for Forbes. “This is especially vital to students from underserved backgrounds, as so many of their core skills (e.g. problem solving, communication, adaptability) aren’t captured by a resume, major, or GPA.” Moss offers five reasons why companies should consider hiring micro-interns: 1. It helps companies have access to a broad, diverse talent pool. 2. It builds brand awareness on campus with students who may not know your company. 3. It improves conversion and retention. 4. It offers managers immediate support on short-term projects. 5. It improves diversity, equity and inclusion by providing hiring managers with exposure to students from non-traditional backgrounds. 

Why humans are companies’ biggest competitive advantage

“People are an organization’s most significant source of competitive advantage,” Accenture’s HR chief Ellyn Shook told Business Insider at the World Economic Forum’s 2020 conference in Davos. “Technology will be able to do a lot of work that humans are doing today, but it’s the human skills, it’s the creativity, it’s the collaboration, it’s the communication that sets [people] apart from computers.” She told BI about Accenture’s innovation challenge asking employees to automate their work in business process services. “It became very obvious to us early on, almost six years ago, that automation and other intelligent technologies were going to be able to be applied to the work that a lot of our human beings do,” Shook said. “We initially thought people [were] going to run for the hills. Instead, 16,000 employees took us up on the offer to be reskilled and for new career tracks and now report higher job satisfaction across each of the new five tracks.” 

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