The insurance industry continues to be low on the list for millennials choosing sectors in which to work. A recent ACORD study found that less than 4% of people born between 1981 and 1997 would consider working in insurance – bad news for insurance companies since this generation represents around 40%, if not more, of the workforce in many markets and is forecast to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025.
“We are right near the bottom in terms of attractiveness,” said Bill Pieroni (pictured), president and CEO of ACORD, adding that young people with a STEM background want to work in insurance at even lower rates, according to the study’s findings.
As a result, insurance companies will want to keep a tight grasp on their millennial employees in the coming years while also reaching more of them by communicating the potential opportunities in this industry. The ACORD study focused in part on what it takes to get a millennial employee to stay at an organization. Surprisingly, the research revealed that work conditions, salary, and status don’t act as motivators keeping any employee onboard.
“Our research shows that salary, status, security, and policies and bureaucracy can only serve to de-motivate, but not to motivate,” explained Pieroni.
In fact, millennials and post-millennials abhor bureaucracy and instead want to build trust with their organization and leadership rather than following leaders blindly. “Simply managing them because you’re the boss or you’re the manager tends not to work effectively with individuals from these cohorts,” said Pieroni.
More than any other generation, millennials also thrive on change. The idea that they’ll be working for the same company for a majority of their career is an outdated one for this cohort, as is the traditional nine-to-five office-desk work environment. Furthermore, millennials don’t want to be seen as subordinates or underlings.
“They want to be colleagues. They want access and they want influence, both real and perceived, so if they’ve got an idea and they’re looking to communicate it, they want access to the C-suite in order to bring those ideas home,” explained Pieroni.
Insurance companies need to be aware that millennials want to be engaged by their organizations and fulfilled by their work. There needs to be an intersection between their strengths, what they want to achieve at a company and within their own professional goals, and what the company needs from them as an employee.
“It’s incredibly important to measure engagement,” noted Pieroni. “One of the key ways of measuring engagement with this generation is, are they giving you discretionary effort or are they just giving you what you bought?”
If companies want to know whether their employees are really engaged, they should ditch surveys, added the ACORD leader. The best way to see if millennials are engaged is to see if long after people have left for the day, are they still in the office working or connecting over email, and do they show excitement for new tasks and projects? They’ll show their passion for the job by putting in the time and effort, rather than checking a box on an employee survey.
The good news is that insurance companies offer a lot of qualities that millennials are looking for in their careers. Millennials want to have an impact, solve social challenges, and work for a diverse organization. They also want to achieve a good work-life balance, acquire expertise, and maintain security in their jobs – all things that insurance companies can provide.
As organizations map out their talent acquisition and retention strategies, they should keep in mind the things that make this generation unique, among implementing other strategies.
“It’s important to recognize people’s potential … and their impact – recognize it up front, develop it, communicate it, and syndicate that knowledge across the organization so leaders and managers who are helping to develop millennials are aware of it,” noted Pieroni, circling back to that dismal 4% figure.
“We’ve got to, as an industry, and as a set of individual organizations develop an outcomes-driven strategy and plan. You can’t have a strategy without a detailed plan and the essence of strategic intent is resource allocation. You can’t say you have a strategy to attract the next generation of talent – high skill, high will millennials and post millennials – without investing resources, money, people, management time and attention, and ensure that HR has the capacity, the competency and the authority to get the job done.”