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Future of insurance in Quebec : the workforce at the heart of concerns


Alain Castonguay

April 12, 2018 13:30

Photo : Alain Castonguay

According to two CEOS, the ability to recruit and retain the workforce is a key element for the future of the insurance industry in Quebec. More than 260 people have participated in the debate organized by the Cercle finance du Québec, on Tuesday in Quebec city, where we thought about the future of the insurance industry in Quebec. The exchanges were moderated by Emilio Imbriglio, chairman of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton (RCGT).

Participating in the discussion Yvon Charest, president and chief executive officer of Industrial Alliance financial Group (iA) and Jean St-Gelais, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of The Capital.

The workforce

The new tools allow to process more requests with the same workforce, which is not a bad thing in the current context of scarcity of staff, recognize the two leaders.

“The challenge of workforce-related demographic change, we live it as full of other sectors “, emphasises Jean St-Gelais. The technology will fill some needs, and reduce the office work and data entry, ” but we will always need cutting-edge expertise “, he says.

Even if the technological innovation may come from elsewhere, insurers will still need IT staff to maintain the systems economic base. “The technology does not take away the basic needs that are the need of insurance and investments,” added Mr. St-Gelais.

The risk associated with the shortage of labour should not be overlooked. According to figures from the federal government, within five years, there will be a shortfall of 250,000 it professionals in Canada, ” he adds.

Quebec has a performance very unenviable in the field of integration of immigrants, says Yvon Charest. Five years after their arrival, the unemployment rate of immigrants is three times higher than the national average.

Challenge of retention

The retention of the workforce is an ongoing challenge. One of its vice-presidents he mentioned having recently lost two of its employees for the benefit of the Industrial Alliance, which has attracted ” thanks to more favourable conditions. It is hoped that this is temporary, ” says Mr. St-Gelais, smiling.

Without responding to this quip, Yvon Charest says that the technology will not reduce the staffing requirements, but will certainly have an effect on the nature of the jobs. The IT sector already accounts for 17 % of the workforce in iA, and the company needs to hire 85 more people in this division, only in 2018.

“The customer wants to be served seven days a week, 24 hours per day, and it will not be all alone,” he says.

“Technology will not replace the human”

For the past 30 years, technology has allowed insurers to offer products increasingly more complex. “The day when technology will replace humans, I don’t believe it,” insisted Mr. Charest. Even if in the future, customers will choose to chat with a robot, it will still take people to configure the system.

Jean St-Gelais notes that The Capital made great efforts to make its staff happy. The firm is the recipient 2018 in the category of “Employers of choice” in the ranking of Aon Hewitt. Special efforts are being made to encourage women to climb the organizational chart of the company.

Distinction between retention and recruitment

The retention and recruitment of the workforce are two separate issues, Yvon Charest. For the past two years among ai, the company conducts an internal survey with 25% of its employees every three months, where five very specific questions they are being asked to measure their level of satisfaction towards their employer and their work.

For recruitment, it works by mouth-to-ear, and it encourages current employees to recommend candidates for the positions to be filled. “We think that our employees can be the best ambassadors,” he says.

It is through them that the insurer happens to be of interest to students to come do internships, to take a summer job and eventually joining the ranks of iA.

In The Capital, we work hard to provide employees with a work environment that is modern, light and airy, and to adapt their workplace to the need. “The compensation is an important element, but the quality of the work environment is an essential condition for attracting young people,” said Mr. St-Gelais.

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