With 20 hired last year and 40 more openings planned for the next year in Orange County alone, thriving insurance company American Income Life wants its employees to grow at the same rapid pace.
The international company’s niche is in providing supplemental benefits to labor and credit unions and associations, recently expanding to cover families as well. A typical associate’s role is to make enrollment a breeze.
But once they have the sales aspect down, American Income Life quickly arranges management training so they may learn to hire, train and develop new talent for the company — and learn how to open and run offices in new markets.
The Register spoke with Ashlynn Orng, a regional general agent who oversees American Income Life offices in Santa Ana and Garden Grove, about how the internally competitive company shapes promising employees into leaders.
Q: How do you think your company stands out within its industry as a great place to work?
A: We’re a people-first company where individuals are not just a number. We look at individuals based upon their skill set and help define their careers based upon what they can bring to the table.
We see people for who they can become versus who they are today, (and plan for) training in six months, one year, two years.
Q: What is the company’s strategy to attract and retain quality employees?
A: Our strategy is that we hire from all walks of life. All of us come from different backgrounds. My background is interior design, so it’s completely night and day. We look for people with great work ethic, good attitude, that are extremely coachable, with the desire to do a little extra to have extraordinary results in what they do.
People with those three traits — work ethic, attitude and coachability — anything else in between, we train them on our systems, our process, our resources, the groups that we work with, our presentations, different markets that we work with. So, it comes down to those three traits, which allow us to build foundations for individuals to have a successful career.
Q: When was the last broad wage increase at your company or beneficial change in your commission structure?
Every year, they come up with a new bonus structure and compensation structure, so every year I’ve been here — almost 11 years now — it’s gotten better. I know with upcoming 2018, they’re looking at bonus structure, compensation structure — how to help people make more money to be able to change their lives through this career opportunity.
Q: How does your leadership play a role in keeping staff engaged in the business overall?
A: My No. 1 priority is to challenge individuals, not just to think on a business level. I ask: What is it that they want, personally? What is it that they desire for themselves and their family?
With a mentorship program, you need to understand what it is people want, and then I can show them how (to get there). It also goes into just challenging them. When people get blindsided with life or struggles, my responsibility is to remind them what it is they want.
Q: What perks or benefits do you and your employees value most at the company?
A: We have leadership conferences three times a year — leadership development — at different exotic locations. The company does a great job in motivating us through awards (and) competition contests like trips to Cabo San Lucas (in Mexico), trips to Lake Tahoe, spending time in mansions. It sounds shallow, but people get motivated by these things.
They make it competitive, they make it fun (and) they allow us to have new experiences. They get us to think bigger by showing us what we could have through having a great career opportunity.
Q: What motivates you to come to work every day, and do you think your employees share the same motivation?
A: The thing that motivates me is the life I get to live and the people I get to help along the way.
That’s personal and professional, and that means me being able to help my parents retire, me being able to take a young man, to mentor him into a young businessman.
(I enjoy) seeing people grow. When they start off new, they don’t understand, (but) when they can be in front of a room leading, training, running (business) territories, those things excite me. And that’s not something I feel that most careers can do for you. As a leader, as a mentor, your job is to know when to guide them that way, so they continue to be challenged, so they don’t become stagnant and complacent in the process.