As the largest generation in today’s workforce, millennials have had a major impact on organizations across all industries. Within the next decade, they will make up about half of all leadership positions, making it more important than ever for companies to begin thinking about how to strengthen their succession pipelines by developing and retaining high-potential leadership candidates.
The insurance industry may seem like an odd fit for the millennial generation given its rather stodgy image and reputation, but it also stands to benefit immensely from them. As millennials gradually age into the traditional demographic of insurance customers, companies need to understand how to market services to them effectively. The classic “picket fence suburban family” stereotype featured in so many commercials, for instance, isn’t very likely to appeal to a generation that’s starting families and buying homes later than their predecessors due to high levels of debt. Developing and retaining millennial employees will help insurance companies to adapt their marketing and messaging to better resonate with a generation that will soon become a significant portion of the market. With more and more millennials assuming leadership roles, they can provide the strategic direction that will carry the industry into the future.
Here are a few things organizations should know about the role of millennials in the insurance industry workplace.
One of the most oft-repeated statistics about the millennial generation is their tendency to change jobs frequently. While there is some reason to think this isn’t as unusual as it’s often portrayed, it is true that millennials are less willing to remain in a position they don’t think is a good fit for them or their future. Gallup research indicates that 21 percent of millennials have changed jobs within the past year and 60 percent are open to different job opportunities (a full 15 percent higher than non-millennial respondents). Given these results, it’s not surprising that the average millennial spends only three years in a position. This frequent turnover costs an estimated $30.5 billion annually, again highlighting the importance of effective retention strategies.
Remarkably, the insurance industry seems to be defying many of these trends. A recent industry study found that about three quarters of millennials working in insurance had been doing so for more than three years. What’s more, over 70 percent of them indicated they planned to remain in the industry as long as possible. Respondents indicated that a healthy work-life balance, financial stability with adequate compensation, and career growth opportunities were the leading benefits of working in insurance, with the ability to be creative and work with their local community ranking high as well. Organizations can capitalize on these trends by offering development opportunities to millennial employees, providing them with the skills training they need to advance their careers while also showing them they have an exciting future in the industry.
One factor that makes millennials so well-suited to the insurance industry is the pace of technological change. As providers transition from older business models to embrace new technologies that allow them to automate tasks and streamline operations, millennials possess many of the qualities needed to facilitate these changes. Not only are millennials “digital natives” who spent most of their lives surrounded by computers and other technologies, they are better educated than any previous generation. According to Pew Research data from 2016, 40 percent of millennials between the ages of 25 to 29 had at least a bachelor’s degree.
On the whole, millennials view technological change as not only inevitable, but welcome. They recognize the value of data and are quick to embrace technology solutions that allow them to make better decisions and work more efficiently. Research indicates millennials are more likely than any other generation to own smartphones, use social media, and view technological developments like the internet as positive developments for society. As insurance companies adopt new technology solutions and rethink their social media presence to market services more effectively, millennials are uniquely positioned to facilitate these transitions. Millennial leaders can spearhead difficult change initiatives and work to achieve buy-in as new technologies and practices are rolled out.
The insurance industry is currently undergoing a massive generational shift in its workforce. Studies show that roughly half of the industry’s employees are older than 45 and only 27 percent are are under 35. Within the next few years, the baby boomer generation’s exodus from the workforce will lead to an estimated 400,000 job openings in the insurance industry. Although only about 4 percent of millennials express interest in working in the industry, the combination of high median salary and relatively low job requirements make it a compelling opportunity for college graduates. With so much turnover expected to come in the next few years, millennials who enter the insurance industry workplace will have plenty of chances to develop their careers and advance into leadership positions relatively quickly.
Millennials tend to place a higher value on diversity than previous generations. Here again, the insurance industry is well-positioned to appeal to millennials. Black Enterprise Magazine’s 2017 list of the 50 best companies for diversity featured seven major insurance companies. The industry has also made strides in terms of gender and LGBTQ equality, making it an attractive destination for millennials who want to work for companies share their values.
As a group, millennials also want to work for companies they believe make a positive contribution to the world and their communities. The insurance industry offers millennials the opportunity to make a direct impact on their customers’ livelihoods. In today’s highly competitive market, a quality customer experience has become a key differentiator. Insurance companies can meet this challenge by matching the millennial enthusiasm to make a difference and help their communities with the demand for more genuine, personalized customer service. Promoting the organization’s values internally and reminding teams why the work they do is important can help to drive engagement among millennials, improving both productivity and retention rates.
While the insurance industry still has many challenges to overcome in the future, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that millennials have a significant role. By taking proactive efforts to embrace the values and needs of the millennial generation, insurance companies can strengthen their leadership pipelines and develop the transformational leaders who can build the innovative strategies needed to achieve long-term success.