Despite knowing young blood is crucial to the survival of the industry, independent agency owners’ track record for hiring and retaining young producers is not too impressive.
In fact, research from The Middleton Group shows that only one out of every five people hired will go on to become a successful producer. While agency owners may be quick to assign blame to the producers themselves—25% told Insurance Business America their biggest issue is overcoming a lack of work ethic among young people—there may be deeper issues at work.
Noelle Codispoti works as executive director for Gamma Iota Sigma, the academic fraternity associated with collegiate risk management and insurance (RMI) programs. In her efforts working with both young people and members of the insurance industry, she has seen what works and what doesn’t when it comes to getting young people to stay.
One of the biggest issues? Lack of commitment to training and mentoring young employees.
Are you having problems preparing for the next generation of insurance professionals? Doing something innovativeto solve it? Tell us by taking this quick survey and participating in
IBA's 2015 Next Generation feature
Codispoti says many industry veterans believe that because they entered the industry without much training or feedback, today’s young people should feel the same. And that’s a problem.
“That’s the worst mindset we can have, and we have to correct it,” she said. “Yes, these vets turned out to be great professionals, but we can’t have taught these students one thing—that they get ribbons and trophies for everything they do—and expect them to act different when they come into the workplace.
“What we fail to remember is that this generation is a product of what we told them, and if we don’t step up and give them a good mentorship experience we’re going to lose them to investment banking or accounting.”
Mentorship is indeed one of the most crucial ways to engage and retain young producers. Whether through a formal program or simply facilitating a connection between new employees and more experienced producers, agency owners ensure young people feel invested and safe.
"If you have people interested in mentorship, that makes all the difference," said Alyssa Bouchard, a new 23-year-old employee with AmWINS Brokerage of Illinois. "I had a fantastic mentor who really just took me under her wing and let me do things of value that I was really excited to do.
"I didn't make copies, I didn't stuff envelopes, I did things I felt added value to the company. It really helped seeing someone a few years older than I was who had been through the same process I had been through, and seeing how successful she was gives me something to really look forward to in the industry."
And it isn't just a time drain on more experienced producers. Becoming a mentor can also be a learning experience for an older producer, especially in terms of new thinking and new ways to utilize technology, said Marla Donovan, a senior adviser with Kaufman Financial Group who has worked as a mentor for countless new employees.
"I really love hearing new ideas. I love when someone shows their thinking a little differently," Donovan said. "I am late to technology so I am delighted when I see a young person solving problems that I used to have to do manually. I think that's wonderful."
Stay tuned Thursday when
Insurance Business America takes a closer look at an ideal mentorship, as well as some common pitfalls made in the industry.
You may also enjoy: "Millennials to the insurance industry: 5 ways you can do better"
"Next Generation: A fail-proof method for training young hires"
"Next Generation: Financing summer interns"