The workplace is the most age-diverse it has ever been. For first time, there are five generations working together - the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z – and they all bring distinct generational traits, values, and perspectives to the insurance industry. Leaders are in a unique but challenging position to harness the best from each group, while making sure their teams collaborates harmoniously.
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For Elissa Doroff (pictured), head of claims Americas at Mosaic Insurance, this age diversity is something to celebrate. “I think insurance was always thought of as kind of boring, not exciting and somewhat limiting as a career,” she reflected.
“Over the last 10 to 12 years, higher educational institutions are providing a way to focus on insurance and risk management as a career, and it’s changed the outlook dramatically. There so many more younger individuals that see insurance as a promising and fulfilling career.”
Doroff reflected on the lessons her generation learned while navigating the insurance landscape, ahead of a panel on the multigenerational workforce at the Women in Insurance event in New York.
“If you talk to anybody within my generation, a lot of us might say we fell into insurance. It wasn’t where I intended to start my career. I went to law school, then I did tax and estate planning, and found that was not fulfilling for me at all,” shared Doroff.
“I started looking around at other types of industries and opportunities, thinking where else could I use my legal degree. I got an opportunity at AIG about 17 years ago, and it turned out to be one of the most fulfilling roles that I've ever had.”
Doroff said she has “seen all sides of the insurance equation” from brokering to working in claims and underwriting policies. Her experience has shown her the abundance of opportunities in the insurance space, and the richness of talent among professionals of every age.
“For my generation, the style of work is just to get it done. You find solutions and get creative. There wasn't as much advancement in technology as we've seen in the last decade,” she told Insurance Business.
“With the advent of companies that provide solutions for aggregation and modelling, there's so many resources today to help build a portfolio and get us better educated. Younger people working in that technology facet of the insurance space have helped create those solutions,” she added.
Technology has also driven the change in learning styles between age groups, Doroff observed. “For me and perhaps those more advanced in their careers, our learning style is different. I tend to prefer more in-person and hands-on [learning]. When we have training sessions, it’s helpful for me to learn from observing and working with people.
“A lot of [the people in] younger generations, to their benefit, are much more resourceful and can find solutions online. They can figure things out and learn a lot quicker and more efficiently, especially when it comes to technology,” noted Doroff.
It’s easy to harp on differences between generations, but an age-diverse team can also prove a wealth of talent and strength, if leaders can manage it well. It all boils down to one core skill, Doroff said: “Communication is the most important thing, no matter how large or small your team is, how broad or diverse: it's important to communicate, set expectations, celebrate wins, and outline roadmaps for success.”
She also emphasized the importance of mentoring the newer cohort of insurance professionals. But rather than handing them the solutions, Doroff said those more experienced should allow the younger set to come into their own.
“It’s important to encourage younger generations to think, to help them find ways to think about the challenge and prepare them to deliver solutions. This ultimately helps them become more of a leader themselves,” she concluded.
Elissa and a host of other top insurance leaders will be tackling the multigenerational workforce and other issues at the Women in Insurance Summit in New York, on September 7 at Westin New York Times Square. The annual conference dedicated to supporting women returns after a pandemic hiatus, packed with powerful sessions to help insurance professionals rise to today’s challenges.
For more on the summit and how to register, visit newyork.ibwomenininsurance.com.