The insurance industry is hiring!
The field needs at least 70,000 new workers to replace retirees over the next two years, according to training group The Institutes. These jobs offer great salaries and benefits, and they’re open to workers at all educational and skill levels.
But there are two serious challenges when it comes to finding the next wave in the workforce:
- Perception. Other industries that compete for the same employees might be seen as more cutting-edge than insurance. Compared to finance, banking, or tech, insurance has an image problem. It’s vital to communicate to tomorrow’s hires that insurance is an exciting place to work.
- Volume. It isn’t enough to pull from existing pools of experienced workers; insurance needs to bring in a new generation entirely. “Just in sheer numbers, there are not enough people in Generation X to replace all the people that are going to be retiring,” former PIA Senior Vice President of Industry Affairs Pat Borowski told NPR in 2016.
That’s where millennials come in.
This 35-and-under generation has exactly the dynamic energy and technological know-how insurance is looking for. Finding and hiring the right millennial employees—not to mention knowing how to retain them for the long term—can make your business stronger and more profitable for years to come.
What separates the millennial generation from the ones that came before? They grew up entirely in the digital world, having never known a time before the internet and cell phones. These communication differences set them apart from previous generations, as do the unique ways they value time, money and relationships.
5 Ways to Engage and Keep Millennials
Psychologist Gustavo Grodnitzky, PhD, has identified some of their strengths and weaknesses, and offers guidance to help you to manage this new generation in your insurance workplace:
Baby Boomers prefer to spend long hours at work, and Generation X seeks more work-life balance, but millennials would rather work wherever and whenever they need to get the job done. To them, “it doesn’t matter where they get things done, it just matters that they get things done,” says Dr. Grodnitzky.
Since they’re always connected, they’ll work offsite or at non-traditional hours if need be. Administrative and technical employees in particular might be good candidates for work from home full or part-time (with the right supervision, of course).
This flexibility might take some time for you to adjust to, but remember that achieving your mutual goals is more important than how they’re achieved.
“If your objective for your company is to be creative and to have employees talk to people and get the company’s marketing message,” says Director of Learning & Development Dwan Tabor, “focus on that, not whether that individual comes in at 7:30 am and leaves after 5.”
Find a Cause.
Previous generations might have measured their success by how much money they made, but millennials would rather know that they’re part of something bigger than themselves.
“Everything they do, even entry level positions, must be in some direct way tied to the cause of the company—how the company’s product or service changes the world or changes human experience in the world,” says Dr. Grodnitzky.
They want to be directly connected to making clients’ lives better. If you make them feel they’re involved in a cause, they will work twice as hard as other generations; if they feel disconnected or that the cause doesn’t matter, however, they will start looking for a new job that offers them a more meaningful experience.
The insurance industry’s clear mission to help clients plan for their future and cover their families in case of an emergency gives it a real competitive advantage when it comes to employing millennials. “We take a person’s risk and give them some comfort and some reassurance that things will be OK,” AIG CEO Brian Duperreault told NPR.
Tap Tech Expertise.
Millennials grew up with all the latest technologies, and so when a new technology comes along, they’ll take to it easily. They’re experts in “the use of technology to create efficiencies,” says Grodnitzky, which can help make your business more profitable faster. In addition to picking up new systems quickly, they can also help to teach those systems to older workers.
The technological fluency millennials bring to the table is absolutely vital to today’s insurance landscape. “Writing code for programming, doing cybersecurity— at every single level we need technology people,” says Pat Borowski.
Teach Soft Skills.
The only problem with millennials growing up online is that many haven’t mastered the social abilities that defined previous generations. “Skills like eye contact, body posture, mirroring, and some verbal small talk are lost to them because their primary form of communication is digital and asynchronous,” says Dr. Grodnitzky.
Be prepared to teach your millennial employees some skills that come naturally to you. “They may have to be taught when is it more desirable to pick up a phone and call or actually go see a customer, rather than just send them a text message or an email,” Grodnitzky offers.
The knock on millennials is that they need constant supervision and hand-holding. But what they really want is good feedback from you after they complete a task. This makes them well-suited for big projects, where they get an assignment at the beginning and an evaluation at the end.