6 strategies for the insurance industry to attract and retain millennials

Recruiting millennials to the insurance industry is tough. There are some hiring strategies for companies to attract and retain millennial workers.

6 strategies for the insurance industry to attract and retain millennials

As with so many other industries, the insurance industry is approaching a staffing evolution. The baby boomer generation is retiring, and the millennial generation is poised to overtake as the majority in the workforce.

Few millennials, however, seem to want to work in the insurance business. The Hartford’s 2015 Millennial Leadership Survey, for example, shows that only 4 percent of millennials are interested in having a career in the insurance industry.

This could be a particular challenge for established companies as they seek to fill jobs vacated by retiring employees, explains Nick Lamparelli, chief underwriting officer of reThought Insurance and partner at Insurance Nerds. “Recruiting top talent for the insurance industry has always been a challenge but with the often negative perception that millennials have of the industry, recruiting has become an even larger obstacle.”

Insurance companies are going to have to find a way to appeal to this demographic to attract and retain them as employees. It will require some ingenuity — and maybe even some internal cultural and process changes — to engage millennials and encourage them to consider a career in this industry.

Strategies for appealing to top talent

Attracting and recruiting a new generation to start a career in the insurance industry will require companies to employ some different strategies as part of their recruiting efforts. Millennials think differently about work than the baby boomers did, and employers must take those ideas and perspectives into account when recruiting.

1. Demonstrate a greater social purpose

For millennials, it’s all about purpose. “Purpose is key,” says Pat Wadors, CHRO at ServiceNow. “Humans want to leave a legacy. And millennials tend to be more intentional about that.”

Companies looking to recruit millennials need to demonstrate that they too are intentionally serving a bigger purpose beyond profits. One way to do that is to tell stories that illustrate those purposes.

Martin Healiss, HR vice president of EMEA at Brightstar Corporation, says employers in the insurance industry should be using social media to share the crucial work they do around the world. “Your angle is not car and life insurance, it’s cyber-terrorism, hostagetaking, hurricanes, climate change,” says Healiss. These stories help people see beyond the day-to-day work of insurance companies. These stories show how companies are making an effort to make the world a better place.

2. Build a strong employer brand

According to research by Gallup, millennials are considered consumers of the workforce because they are constantly “shopping” for better jobs. Gallup’s data shows that members of this generation are more likely to change jobs in a given year.

“Millennials size up job opportunities with the scrutiny of a savvy consumer,” says Kim Peters, executive vice president of Great Place to Work Lists & Strategic Partnerships. “They read what former co-workers say about their teams online and carefully research the company’s background.”

This means a strong employment brand is more important than ever. With millennials researching everything online, it is imperative that companies understand and drive their employer brands to attract and retain the best talent.

And no company, no matter how big, is immune to the pressure of appealing to a younger workforce. AbbVie Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition Sheila Stygar explains that her former employer, PepsiCo, had to reinvent its employer brand to compete with tech companies for STEM and millennials employees. “We’re much more than chips and soda, and we needed our employees to tell the story of who we are,” Stygar says.

She and her team dug deep into the company’s century-old story to find a new narrative, one woven around the size and reach of the organization. “At PepsiCo, you’ll learn twice as much in half the time,” is the message they settled on.

PepsiCo’s journey is a great example for how established companies — and this includes insurance companies — may need to consider refreshing their employer brands with a new generation in mind.

3. Emphasize diversity in hiring

Diversity is a key issue for millennials.

One study by the Institute for Public Relations and Weber Shandwick shows that 47 percent of the millennials prioritize diversity and inclusion when actively searching for potential employers. “It has long been understood that diversity and inclusion initiatives are essential for business success but also for career choices being made by Millennials,” says Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at Weber Shandwick.

A different study by Deloitte reflects this assertion. The Deloitte survey has found that millennials expect businesses to address diversity from a number of different perspectives, including educational background, age, gender, disability, ethnicity, social status, sexual identity and religion. They see diversity as something that boosts performance, especially when senior management teams are diverse, the study shows.

Insurance companies, then, must ensure they can demonstrate a commitment to diversity in the workplace and in their recruiting.

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4. Provide a flexible work environment

Gone are the days of the 9-to-5, at least for businesses that want to recruit millennials.

These workers are seeking work-life balance that isn’t conducive to a mandated hourly work schedule. Seventy-five percent of millennials believe businesses should have a flexible work environment that doesn’t enforce a rigid structure on employees, a survey of millennials by Kantar Future and American Express concludes.

So, to successfully attract millennials insurance companies need to show they provide a flexible work environment.

What, exactly, does it mean to be flexible? Millennials consider work accomplished more important than hours worked, and they will search out employers that hold the same values. Consider adopting flexible work hours, fewer mandated work hours and telecommuting opportunities to foster a flexible work environment.

5. Embrace digital transformation

Millennials are digital natives and want to work for companies that have embraced technology to improve efficiencies at work. A survey by insurtech company Vertafore shows that 49 percent of millennials believe automation and other technological advances streamline tasks and enable them to focus on the most important aspects of their jobs.

A corresponding number consider employer-provisioned, state-of-the-art technology important factors when considering a job, according to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report. This younger generation expects a workplace’s technology ecosystem to include social media, video conferencing and instant messaging because they are comfortable with those tools and feel they encourage productivity, notes the PwC report. Insurance companies that are behind the curve on implementing such digital tools will struggle to appeal to millennial job candidates.

But tech implementation means more than simply updating your social presence and downloading an instant messaging system for the office. Younger employees expect companies to embrace these tools to create new operational efficiencies.

6. Provide professional development opportunities

Millennials want to see their path forward through a career with a company. “They want to know that if they do A, B and C, after two to five years, they’ll potentially be here and then move here,” says Dan Schawbel, partner and research director at research firm Future Workplace. They want to see that a company and its management are invested in employee growth.

The job description is the first place to highlight a potential career path with a company. This gives candidates a look at the potential roadmap before applying for a position. Another way to demonstrate commitment to career growth is to provide professional development opportunities, whether via on-site or off-site conferences or classes. Sharing success stories of employees who have grown within the company is also an effective way to highlight the company’s commitment to their employees.

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The right technology can help companies speak to millennial candidates

Appealing to a younger generation with different perspectives on work can be intimidating for insurance companies, especially knowing that millennials don’t look positively on the industry.

This is where personalized career sites enter the conversation.

As previously noted, millennials proactively search out potential employers online. This creates an opportunity for insurance companies to speak to millennials’ concerns and priorities before a first contact is even made. Doing so helps set the expectations on both sides of the hiring equation: Millennials see the company understands their needs, and companies are able to put their best foot forward.

Personalized career sites allow insurance companies to make these 1-to-1 connections with candidates at scale. They provide a place where personalized content demonstrates to specific candidates why they might be a good fit for an open position. From there, the potential candidate can open a dialogue about filling that position.

While recruiting millennials may seem overwhelming, insurance companies can’t afford to ignore this workforce evolution. By addressing these concerns and adapting the workplace to appeal to millennials, companies can better attract and retain those employees to help them grow into the future.

Images by: Aleksandr Davydov/©123RF.com, rawpixel/©123RF.com, Sergey Nivens/©123RF.com

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