Growing the Next Generation of Agency Professionals

October 5, 2015

Despite low unemployment, competitive salaries and overall job stability, a career within insurance or at an insurance agency, is often overlooked by today’s Millennial generation. However, with the industry in the midst of a growing talent crisis – with the number of professionals aged 55 and older accounting for nearly half the industry and thus anticipated to be retiring within the next 15 years – this situation must be addressed – and now!

Engaging the current Millennial generation is vital to ensuring future success. Already 77 million strong and accounting for 25 percent of the U.S. workforce, Millennials are the perfect solution to the insurance industry’s growing talent needs. However, a career in insurance is not one that most young people actively seek.

With less than one in 10 Millennials interested in working in the insurance industry, how can agencies successfully attract and engage this emerging group of professionals?

Increase Awareness of Employment Opportunities

Today’s Millennials are often unaware of the multitude of career opportunities available, with just 2 percent of graduates reporting that they are familiar with the insurance industry. The fact is, degrees in computer science, marketing or business administration are transferable to exciting and available roles industrywide. Millennials just don’t know it.

Within the insurance agency sector, professionals can work in product analysis, information technology, underwriting, customer service and more. Agencies looking to engage the incoming generation must focus on educating young professionals, recent graduates and students on the diverse array of opportunities available for a career within the industry.

Cultivate Positive Public Opinion

Social media platforms and public forums are permeating today’s connected culture. With more and more information readily available to potential candidates, ensuring your organization has a positive and enticing public image is important to your organization’s recruitment success.

Unfortunately, the majority of reviews and comments on sites such as Glassdoor and Yelp are often fueled by bad experiences and negative impressions. Insurance organizations and agencies have an opportunity to combat this public perception of the industry by encouraging positive commentary from employees and clients. Encourage staff to post reviews on job sites or share posts on your organization’s social media sites. Highlight recent events and volunteer activities. Focus on “real” posts that give an inside view of your company culture. Take time to post on key industry issues that provide value to your supporters. By creating and promoting content that your audience can use, your organization is positioning itself as a thought leader and a key source of information.

With the Millennial generation leveraging social media as a platform to form their views on an organization or career, having a positive and robust presence can make a marked difference in your ability to engage candidates.

Expand Your Recruitment Focus

Many insurance organizations utilize tried-and-true engagement practices, such as on-site campus recruitment fairs, to recruit the next generation. However, these methods often neglect a significant portion of the market. Studies suggest that on-campus recruiting is only able to cover 1 percent of the total market of potential graduates.

Limiting outreach to campus recruitment effectively ignores a large number of potential employees who are enrolled in alternative education programs – including community college and online programs. In addition, this method misses graduates who have returned home from college and have been unable to find employment.

In order to expand outreach, agencies should look at their current network of contacts. Often, policyholders and clients are able to connect the organizations with individuals who would be interested in a career. Does a long-time client have a child or grandchild who is graduating? Are they involved in a community organization with the younger generation? Rethinking how your organization views its current network can help to open up an untapped segment of the current labor market.

Promote an Employee Ambassadorship Program

Today’s young professionals place a large amount of emphasis on the opinions and experiences of their professional and personal networks. Agencies looking to attract this next generation should embrace the power of “word-of-mouth” and implement an employee ambassadorship program.

Having a recent graduate share their experiences and provide endorsements of your organization helps to lend credibility and combat negative perceptions among potential candidates. Encourage your young employees to share their stories for marketing videos or recruitment collateral. When attending on-campus recruitment events, be sure to include a recent graduate who can engage students. Providing a “real-life” testament to what it means to work at your organization can be invaluable in your outreach to the next generation.

As the war for talent wages and the recruitment climate continues to become more challenging, the stakes are growing for insurance organizations to engage the next generation of professionals. While Millennials certainly offer a solution to closing the growing skills gap, rethinking current engagement and attraction strategies are key to bringing these professionals into the fold.

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Insurance Journal West October 5, 2015
October 5, 2015
Insurance Journal West Magazine

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