Have you had enough of millennials yet? The term “millennial” often has a negative connotation associated with it; however, it is a vital generation positioned to make a big impact on the world. Millennials are estimated to comprise 75% of the entire workforce population by 2025.1 Yet the lack of millenials entering the insurance industry is alarming—only 28% of the industry's workforce are millennials. With the average age of insurance employees at 59 years old, the widening age gap in our industry continues to be an issue and without figuring out how to attract these younger workers, this issue will only grow. This article will explore some of the issues that need to be addressed in order to position the insurance industry as both a viable and desirable business for millennials and future generations.
The insurance industry has been struggling to recruit new workers for decades. Outsiders often perceive the industry as old fashioned, boring, and conservative. This directly conflicts with the ready adaptability of millennials, who are known to be more tech-savvy and highly educated than previous generations.
Research shows that millennials are looking for more flexibility in schedules and environment that will afford better work-life cohesion. Instead of strictly separating work and personal life as generations have done in the past, millennials want their jobs and personal lives to be more integrated. They want a career that is meaningful and is a part of themselves and their lives, rather than just a job that provides a paycheck.
The challenge doesn’t stop with recruiting millenials into the insurance industry. Once the industry has adapted to the desires of millennials, it will need to keep them engaged and challenged in ways that they will respond to. Millennials want a coach instead of a boss or manager. They want someone who will provide them with feedback and frequent coaching throughout their development, rather than just a written annual review. They want life-long, meaningful skill development that provides them with guided career growth and development in an industry that requires more and more education. Unlike certain stereotypes attributed to them, millennials are curious, seek mind stimulation, and exhibit an eagerness to learn. In fact, they are the most educated generation in history to date. According to Pew Research, about 46% of millennial women and 38% of millennial men have completed at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to Generation X, of which only 34% of women and 31% of men completed college.3
Further, millennials do not deserve negative labels. In fact, they are a driven and loyal generation. They are just as likely to stay with their employers as were their older counterparts in Generation X. The difference is their job definition is different and millennials are pushing the envelope to take advantage of a more integrated work-life balance. Their desires are attainable; however, until the insurance industry collectively adjusts to meet the needs of this younger, more adaptable workforce, the age gap will endure and our industry will continue to miss the opportunity to embrace a new generation of employees to help drive innovation. With the next generation, Gen Z, now entering the workforce, the industry needs to adapt quickly or risk their attraction to future generations.
Josefa Gulati is a Senior Vice President, Account Executive with Old Republic Risk Management. She is responsible for leading the relationship with clients and brokers by marketing and underwriting casualty insurance programs for large corporations and group captives in the risk management marketplace. Josefa assists Old Republic's efforts in the South Central region.