Career Planning in Life Insurance

  1. Introduction:

Individual Career Planning assumed greater significance with the growth and speed of knowledge, the phenomenal increase in educational and training facilities and widespread increase in job opportunities.  Similarly, organizational career planning also gained importance with the change in technology, human needs, values, and aspirations, increase in organizational size, complexity and number of openings at different levels. In Life Insurance the main initiative in a career here is related to sales promotion, which consists of a diverse collection of incentive tools, mostly short-term, designated to stimulate a quicker or greater purchase of a particular product or service by the consumers or the insured. Sales promotion is generally defined as those marketing activities that provide extra value or incentives to the sales force, the distributors, or the ultimate consumer and can stimulate an immediate increase in sales. Sales promotion add value, provide the competitive edge, boost sales during periods when demand would otherwise be weak, hasten to introduction and acceptance of the new type of services, and invariably get the customers to act quicker than it would have been possible in the absence of any promotional incentive. LIC has been and still is under great pressure to sustain and increase sales. In this free market of Life Insurance, sales promotions are being increasingly used to influence the purchase behavior of consumers in the desired way. The major reasons for the phenomenal use of sales promotional measures can be attributed to increasing competition, declining brand loyalty, consumer sensitivity to promotional deals. LIC having realized its importance has undertaken sales promotion in consumer-oriented as well as in salesforce based promotion. It is mainly the sales promotional avenue that makes Life Insurance career attractive. Every year a huge number of people are being inducted as the “Insurance Agents”. Even sales force promotions offer an incentive to these insurance agents to work with more enthusiasm & vigor. Salesforce promotion steps of LIC (the Indian giant in Life Sector) include commission, gifts, advances to purchase of cars, club membership schemes, etc. LIC pays a very good commission to its agents. For example, it pays 25% commission to the agents in the first year, 71/2 % in the second year and 5% from third year onwards. The corporation through its divisional and branch offices offers various gifts in the form of diaries, calendars, key chains, wallets – even free travel packages to holiday resorts for the outstanding performers. To meet all such expenditure on these frequent gift items being offered to the agents located all over India, LIC is having a substantial promotional budget in each fiscal year. Even the Private Insurance players like Max & others arrange foreign trips to their agents with outstanding performance.
  1. Reasons for interest in Career Planning by the Life Insurance Organizations:

There are several reasons why the organizations, as well as the individuals, are interested in Career Planning nowadays. The main reasons are likely to be the following:
  • Technological change and obsolescence in the workplaces – the introduction of e-commerce/ e-insurance;
  • Increased education has created rising expectations about what constitutes a happy and fulfilling life;
  • Continuing pressure from policies;
  • Organizations typically lose as many as 30 to 50 percents of their ‘younger’ employees during the first two years when employed on the job;
  • The shortage of capable managers, skilled, professionals and technical workers has resulted in ways to develop personnel from within through career planning and development.
  1. What is Career Planning?

A career is all the jobs that are held progressively during one/any person’s working life. Douglas T. Hall defined a career as “an individually perceived sequence of attitudes and behaviors associated with work-related experiences and activities throughout the person’s life.” Career Planning is the deliberate process by which one selects career goals and the path to these goals.  Career development is those personal improvements one undertakes to achieve a personal career plan.  Career management is the process of designing and implementing goals, plans and strategies to enable the organization to satisfy employee needs while allowing individuals to achieve their career goals through the growth process.
  1. Various Career Stages:

Careers can be analyzed based on various career stages.

Three different career stages include:

  1. Exploration: At the initial stage one has to explore all his/her desired goals, try to stick to the possible and feasible ways to achieve that goal & need to found the most effective and efficient one (among all these alternatives of suitable jobs).
  2. Establishment: The individual has to establish himself/herself on his/her best suited/ available position in the Life Insurance Company – preferred by him/her.
  3. Mid-career: Remaining productive at work is a major challenge of career at this stage. Some employees reach their goals at the early stage and go on to even higher heights. These employees are climbers.
  4. Need for Career Planning:

The following are the reasons – why we need Career Planning?

  1. To attract competent persons and to retain them in the organization.
  2. To provide suitable promotional opportunities.
  3. To enable the employees to develop and make them ready to meet future challenges.
  4. To increase the utilization of managerial talents within an organization.
  5. To correct employee placement.
  6. To reduce employee dissatisfaction and turnover.
  7. To improve motivation and morale.
  8. Organizational Career Planning:

Even Career Planning is equally needed for each & every organization for the following reasons:

  1. Human resource needs development;
  2. Upgrading of human resources for increased productivity is a must;
  3. Career paths definition differs with the difference in objectives;
  4. Assessment of individual potential job capability & improvement in Efficiency requires frequent/ annual measurement;
  5. For the required matching of organizational needs and the individual’s career needs.
  6. Career Counseling for quality of work life.
  7. Audit and control of career planning and development.
  8. Basic features of Individual Career Planning:

The basic features of the individual career planning involve the following aspects:

  1. Identifying your interests, skills, and potential;
  2. Identifying your life goals and career goals;
  3. Developing a written plan (including the schedule) to achieve your goals
  4. Seeking and obtaining the best first;
  5. Communicating to management your career plan;
  6. Seeking counsel from your manager and the Human Resource Department on career plans and feedback on your progress;
  7. Evaluating internal and external (other company) opportunities;
  8. Seeking aid from sponsors;
  9. Making known (publicizing) yourself and your accomplishments;
10. The career of an individual should grow and develop with the organizational goals. Personal and organizational development – both should go hand in hand for a synergized, all-round sustained growth.
  1. Is your life clouding your career?

Sometimes your circumstances can prevent you from following the career path you have planned. You have to follow the following tips for handling stressful situations that might keep you from reaching your goals:
  1. Face the reality of the situation. Ask yourself what’s happening in your life and, instead of blaming others, look at what you can do to get beyond it.
  2. Make sure the place that you value most in your life – your home – gets the time, effort, energy it deserves to become a haven for you. Work on your domestic relationships and create an environment that’s loving and supportive.
  3. Take a timeout for yourself and give yourself the things you deserve. Have long, luxuriating baths, go for walks, eat and exercise regularly and treat yourself to a pampering massage or facial.
  4. Understand that your energy gets depleted by caring for someone who’s critically ill and needs to be replenished.
  5. Never turn to substances like pills or alcohol as coping mechanisms they’ll only compound your problem.
  6. In times of your trauma and stress:
  7. Get professional help. Understand that the way you’re feeling is normal and you can’t go at it alone.
  8. Seriously consider leaving the relationship if you’re being abused.
  9. Think very carefully before confiding in your boss. Sometimes this is the best course of action. But if your company has a strictly “no personal problems allowed” policy, you need to tread carefully.
  10. Focus on the part of work you really, love and enjoy. This is itself becomes restorative.
  11. Avoid watching or reading things that distress you focus on positive, uplifting input.
So when you are on the saddles of your struggle for your existence keep yourself ready with the answers of the following questions: How can you be more effective? How do you want to develop yourself? What are your developmental needs? Who should supply the resources? Are you committed to your growth?
  1. Conclusion:
While summing up I like to remind you the following focal points of your career planning: Your effectiveness depends on you – your boss has no interest in how you shape. Promote your achievements – no one else is interested in promoting you. If you do not work to create achievements, you cannot promote yourself. Develop yourself. You have a vested interest in self. So please do it right now.

For all the Life Insurance Organizations the following features are most important in respect of today’s plight:

What do customers buy?
  • Your product – which is common to all.
  • They buy the culture that is special to you and known in the market.
  • Your identity is known in the market- say, LIC (as the Market Leader), ICICI Prudential (Leaders in terms of Nos. of Policies sold- among the private players ) and Bajaj Allianz ( Leader in terms of market share -among all private players).
Product, cost, delivery and service and YOU(the person providing the efficient service in the Life Insurance  Sector ) –  all make the difference.

By Mr. Anabil Bhattacharya, Published in Life Insurance Today, September 2006

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