The Next Generation

By | April 8, 2013

Workers 45 and over account for 48 percent of the insurance industry’s workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics This means nearly half of the workforce will be retired or on the verge of retirement in only 15 years.

As companies made necessary cuts during a down economy, hiring and training fell to the wayside. With baby boomers preparing for retirement, employers are finding that they lack incumbent talent to fill the resulting skills gap. Many companies are finding themselves unprepared in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

To combat this mass exodus of boomers and the resulting talent shortage, insurers will need to target recruiting efforts toward the next generation of workers, Generation Y, commonly nicknamed millennials. Unfortunately, insurance is not an industry of choice for recent college grads.

When you find the right talent, millennials will make great additions to your team and impact your output. So how do we find the right ones? More importantly, how do we recruit them to a career in insurance? Finally, how do we cultivate and integrate them?

Attract With Your Image

Perhaps the greatest challenge the industry must overcome is how the industry is perceived by the next generation of workers. According to The Wall Street Journal, insurance ranked 97th out of the 100 least-desirable industries for college grads. To appeal to millennials, it is time to adjust.

Millennials are known to be tech-savvy and up on the latest trends. Thus, they want their employer to also understand the importance of updated technology. While it’s almost impossible to always have the latest and greatest, it is possible to stay in tune with the technology your team requires.

Going hand-in-hand with Gen Y’s advanced technology skills is their social media acumen. If you aren’t recruiting through social media venues, you are missing a huge audience. Even if you aren’t using the job boards on these venues, your presence alone is important. Looking a prospective employer up on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook is simply part of the job search process now.

Another great way to attract the next generation of workers is simply by word-of-mouth. Referrals make excellent employees at any age group. This includes treating all candidates with the same level of professionalism and respect, even those that don’t make the cut. Always follow up. If you can generate some buzz about your organization, others will spread the word for you. Likely, they will do a lot of that through social media! See how all of this is connected?

All of this is part of your employer brand. Show the candidate you’re recruiting that you understand their needs. Be up front when talking to potential Gen Y employees. Remember to mention the perks and hot buttons that pertain to the role including benefits, flexibility, technology and compensation. Follow up by phone and via email.

Keep Them With Your Culture

The secret for retaining and engaging employees in all age groups lies in company culture. You might be surprised to know that most age groups want the same things when it comes to company culture. Millennials in particular respond well to a high-recognition work place and may require extra guidance. They are not looking for a slow climb up the ladder, so be sure to get your best and brightest on the right track.

Some would argue that employers have themselves to blame for the skills gap because of the lack of resources put into training. It’s time to ramp up training and career development programs. Develop a promote-from-within mindset.

It is the manager’s responsibility to make sure the right people are in the right jobs. The tools your employees need to do their best work should be readily accessible. It is important to understand your employees’ objectives and provide them with measurable goals. Millennials want a sense of purpose in their work.

Mentorships can provide an important outlet for the next generation. You don’t need to implement a formal mentorship program, but you should encourage your millennials to find support from someone in the organization who they admire. Likewise, encourage your seasoned employees to reach out to newer ones. Cultivate a team-oriented mindset.

Pay attention to employee morale. Open communication between employees and managers is important. Check in with employees regularly to make sure they are not overwhelmed but are being appropriately challenged. Encourage positivity whenever possible with group activities and recognition for achievements.

Live the company brand and culture that you’ve created. Make sure your mission statement and corporate values guide your organization every day. Combat the talent shortage by hiring the right new workers and cultivating the next generation for success.

About David Coons

Coons is senior vice president of The Jacobson Group, a provider of talent to the insurance industry. Phone: 800-466-1578. Email: More from David Coons

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Insurance Journal West April 8, 2013
April 8, 2013
Insurance Journal West Magazine

Big “I” Issue (with Young Agents Survey); Medical Professional Liability; Alcohol & Drug Rehab; Bonus: Education & Training Directory