When Omaha National President and CEO Reagan Pufall reflects on how COVID-19 has affected recruiting and hiring at the workers’ compensation insurance provider, his main verdict is: no much. The key features that allowed the Managing General Agent (MGA)/insurance company to grow from eight to 200 employees in just over five years remain unwavering amidst all the workplace changes affecting the insurance industry.
As Insurance Career Month 2022 draws to a close, Pufall hopes Omaha National can serve as an example for other companies hoping to rebuild or expand their workforces.
The Nebraska-based MGA works with small and medium-sized businesses and provides coverage in more than a dozen states. Pufall considers Omaha National to be a relatively young company, having been founded by a small group of investors in 2016. According to Pufall, the company reported a lower than average loss ratio per accident year in 2021 and has 135 million dollars of premiums in effect. In September 2021, the company completed its Series B funding round, raising $45 million.
When Omaha National was just getting started, Pufall and his team didn’t have a plan for the type of employee they were looking for. Industry experience was not a factor. They knew it was the company’s responsibility to invest and develop new hires.
“We very rarely hire people who have previous experience in the workers’ compensation industry,” says Pufall. “Most of the people we hire have no previous experience. We hire them as interns and train them ourselves, which of course means we are strongly committed to having a very strong in-house training program.
It helps that one of Omaha National’s founders, Dave Holloway, has a background as a professional scout. Holloway previously served as director of recruiting for Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway.
“What we found was that it really gave us a huge advantage,” says Pufall. “The quality of people we’ve brought into this company is far beyond anything I’ve experienced in my career. When you fill a business with great people, it makes everything so much easier.
Pufall finds that most candidates, even those with no prior knowledge of worker compensation, are more interested in joining a company with a satisfied workforce. Pufall says it’s important to hire workers based on how their personality and background fits into the desired field of work.
“We need a very wide variety of people because we do a very wide variety of work,” says Pufall. “The kind of person who’s going to love being a sales rep is very different from the kind of person who’s going to thrive as an underwriter.”
In addition to its unique sales and subscription model, Omaha National designs its own software in-house, resulting in a demand for a limited number of highly skilled developers. Pufall says it’s crucial to give developers maximum autonomy instead of reviewing code written by a junior developer or spending their day reviewing code that was written by an outsourced developer.
“Coders don’t like to sit down and review each other’s code,” says Pufall. “A good coder really likes to code.”
Whether Omaha National hires a veteran software whiz or a budding underwriter fresh out of college, the key trait of a new hire is someone who will contribute to the company’s existing cohesion.
“Regardless of the qualifications for each individual position,” says Pufall, “the one thing we’re really looking for is someone who can come out and support this happy, positive culture.”
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