As more Baby Boomers retire and Millennials increasingly seek high-paying jobs in tech and finance, the insurance industry is feeling a talent pinch. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 51 million insurance jobs are expected to become available by 2022 — owing to industry growth and openings created by retirees.
To face that talent shortage head on, employers are trying to make the work — namely, selling insurance — more attractive. They’re enticing prospective appraisers, actuaries, claims processors, and sales agents by mirroring the cultural offerings of big tech companies. Some are increasing pay packages (the median annual industry wage in 2012 was $34,750) while adding to already healthy benefits programs. Other firms are even offering free meals, onsite massages, and, in one instance, building a ferris wheel at headquarters (see No. 1 on our list below). And, for the moment, it seems to be working. Turnover at these firms is low and their workers tell us they’re happy and staying put.
To compile a list of the best workplaces in insurance, Great Place to Work, the longtime partner for Fortune’s annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, recently surveyed 86,000 workers in the industry who answered 58 questions about the characteristics that constitute a great workplace.
According to Great Place to Work, these 10 insurance firms have outperformed their peers by a margin of 20-25% by focusing on merit-based promotions, offering competitive compensation and profit sharing, and involving staff in major decisions that affect their jobs or work. Read more on each of these companies below.
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Headquarters: Madison, Wisc.
This small insurance firm was founded in 1946 and is still run by members of the Hausmann family. Its leadership team runs the company like a family by making itself accessible — via bi-weekly meetings, group meals, and one-on-one lunches with executives. Employees receive 50 hours of training per year and say they feel empowered to deliver stellar customer service, sometimes working across departments. The company also offers flexible scheduling to accommodate personal priorities, such as coaching kids sports teams or working from home. Read the full Great Place to Work review.
First American Financial
Revenue: $4.6 billion
Headquarters: Santa Ana, Calif.
U.S. Employees: 10,935
This provider of title insurance and settlement services operates in 780 locations throughout the U.S. Employees have access to veterinary pet insurance. There’s a subsidized café at HQ, in addition to onsite services for shoe shining, car washing, dry cleaning, and chair massages. Employees also may be eligible for reimbursement of title and escrow fees when buying, selling, or refinancing their principal residence. Says one employee: “First American does an amazing job of protecting their culture. This is the most caring company you can work for, they value everyone and focus on development of their employees and the customer experience.” Read the full Great Place to Work review.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont
Best Medium-Size Companies rank: 25
Revenue: $885 million
Headquarters: Berlin, VT
Vermont’s largest health plan covers more than half of the state’s privately insured population. Its “citizen of the year” award recognizes a volunteer who demonstrates the core values of integrity, public responsibility, and citizenship, by donating $500 to their favorite charity. Employees are also offered generous tuition reimbursement, capped at $7,000 per year. Read the full Great Place to Work review.
Best Medium-Size Companies rank: 6
Headquarters: Traverse City, Mich.
Employees of this family-owned insurer of classic cars and boats get to learn the art of restoring antique vehicles in the annual Employee Restoration Project, a team-building project which also provides a hands-on education. It also offers courses on car basics, “Engine Guts and Glam” and “Collector and the Car.” All staff are given 16 hours of paid time off per year to be used toward volunteering or philanthropic causes. Read the full Great Place to Work review.
Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners
The small insurer offers a unique benefit called Community Service PTO. Each colleague can donate three days of additional paid time off to support charities and service organizations of their choice. In addition to 9.5 paid holidays per year, all full-time employees start with a bank of 15 days of PTO on their first day of employment. The amount of PTO increases on milestone anniversaries up to 6 weeks. And on Casual-for-a Cause Fridays, employees donate $1 to dress down, with all proceeds going to charity. Read the full Great Place to Work review.
Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America
100 Best Companies to Work For rank: 68
Revenue: $9.6 billion
U.S. employees: 1,689
The U.S. branch of the German-owned annuity and life insurer has unique benefits: two-week paid maternity leave on top of standard disability leave, a 401k plan with dollar-for-dollar match up to 8% of pay, and 20% discount on purchase of Allianz stock. Also, CEO Walter White spearheaded a volunteer program to create awareness of elder financial abuse. Says one employee: “There are many events and programs that make this an amazing place to work, including the fitness center, the campus, the benefits, the generous 401k match, the discount at the cafes, and various volunteer opportunities. The list goes on.” Read the full Great Place to Work review.
Best Medium-Size Companies to Work For rank: 4
Revenue: $76 million
Headquarters: Schaumburg, Ill.
Advancement at this insurance brokerage is celebrated with bottles of private label champagne, delivered to the desk of the newly promoted. The onsite “penthouse” floor at headquarters has ways to de-stress during the workday: Nintendo Wii, AppleTV, locker rooms, and fitness equipment. For one day each summer, the company closes shop for a staff outing to celebrate employee recognition. Past trips have included Wrigley Field, the House of Blues, and North Avenue Beach in Chicago. Read the full Great Place to Work review.
100 Best Companies to Work For rank: 33
Revenue: $21 billion
Headquarters: San Antonio, Texas
Serving 10.6 million military families with financial products like insurance and auto loans, USAA makes sure that benefits are inclusive. That’s why there are childcare centers at its four major posts (San Antonio, Phoenix, Tampa and Colorado Springs) — and they’re all accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Says one employee: “We are in a noble profession, caring for those who have been protecting us and our families for decades…I am so proud of the work we do.” Read the full Great Place to Work review.
Funeral Directors Life Insurance
Best Small Companies rank: 18
Revenue: $256 million
Headquarters: Abilene, Texas
The insurer for funeral homes offers a variety of paid time off programs. Sabbaticals are awarded to all employees every seven years, and employees on the job for at least five years can take one or two weeks as part of a “helpers of people” paid leave program — in addition to regular vacation — to devote to personal growth, service projects, or mission trips. Says one employee: “They don’t just look at work performance, they care about your all-over well being. Physically, emotionally, spiritually as well.” Read the full Great Place to Work review.
100 Best Companies rank: 3
Revenue: $1.1 billion
Headquarters: Sheboygan, Wisc.
The insurance company jumped into the national spotlight when it debuted at No. 3 on Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For earlier this year, thanks to astounding benefits: no limit on tuition reimbursement; no cap on paid sick days for full time employees, and a healthy 401(k) plan where company plunks 8% of pay into accounts every quarter. (See Acuity’s worker loyalty could outlast a zombie apocalypse from the March 15, 2015 issue.) Says one staffer: “I have worked for other employers and know that ACUITY is not steps but flights above others.” Read the full Great Place to Work review.