Next Generation: How The Hanover successfully integrates new employees

A case study in improving training programs shows the key to retaining young employees.

Next Generation: How The Hanover successfully integrates new employees

Insurance News


When Insurance Business America asked young members of the insurance industry for suggestions on how companies can improve, the resounding answer was: increase your training efforts.

“As a new generation of insurance professionals, we are excited to learn about insurance—if you can believe that. If you have people willing to mentor us and involve us in work that actually adds value to the company, that makes all the difference in the world," says Alyssa Bouchard, a 23-year-old risk management and insurance (RMI) program graduate and new member of the AmWINS team.

As a leading carrier, The Hanover says they have this down pat.

After being hired with The Hanover, new employees enter a two-week orientation program with their peers during which they learn about company culture and receive individual assignments. However, unlike similar industry orientations, Frederick Eppinger—CEO of The Hanover—makes a point to speak to the young hires and engage them in meaningful dialogue.

“The first comment out of their mouths is, ‘Wow,’” says Christine Peterson of The Hanover HR. “He really opens up the floor to questions and dialogue, and talks about all kinds of things with them. They love the fact that not only is he so open on their first day, but they also see him all around the building and know he is open to new ideas—and that those ideas will be implemented quickly.”

The Hanover has also found success partnering new hires with more seasoned employees who can show them the ropes, answer any questions about the company and generally serve as a mentor during the first years of their employ.

That setup facilitates a natural, two-way knowledge transfer, says Peterson.

“Our new talent is really eager to learn from these individuals who have been around for 20 or 30 years, and by working together they actually strengthen each other and the organization as a whole,” she says. “They’re both getting a very different view on how to do business, and we’ve seen some great, creative solutions on both sides.”

The best mentorships evolve naturally, says Peterson. As long as mentors and mentees meet regularly and maintain an open flow of dialogue, a partnership can be successful.

That kind of high-level engagement and opportunity to contribute may also satisfy millennials’ famed yearning for quick promotion. Sometimes negatively described as “wanting something for nothing,” today’s young workers do expect to contribute meaningful work and be recognized for it.

While Noelle Codispoti, executive director of RMI fraternity Gamma Iota Sigma, believes companies should be more open to promoting young people in general, she also suggests there are other ways to recognize good work from millennials.

“We’ve been telling people within the industry to have patience and wait your turn,” Codispoti says. “If that mindset is continued through boomers and Gen Xers, our millennials well get fed up before we even have the opportunity to keep them.

“I’m not suggesting we promote those who are not ready, but I don’t think anyone has ever broken the bank by giving a young person an extra $500 or throwing them a new title.”

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