I hear predictions all the time about how the insurance industry is going to die because “millennials aren’t interested in insurance.” After all, this generation is unlike any other than came before it, right?
We’re all aware of the stereotypes. We all know that millennials feel entitled, need constant praise, are generally lazy, and lack real personal communication skills. Right?
Well, this is probably a subject for another post, but the stereotype doesn’t simply describe certain millennials. More and more, this stereotype describes the personality too many of us have become as a population because of the social, online, “reality” world in which we now live. I can think of people of all ages who fit that description. Millennials just happened to have grown up in this new world.
Will the real millennials please stand up?
Let’s let the subjective stereotypes go for a moment and take a more objective look at who millennials truly are, or at least what they are looking for in a work experience. After all, if you want to have any chance of attracting them, you need to know what they want.
According to an article from Harvard Business Review, the top six things millennials say they want in the workplace:
- Make a positive impact on my organization
- Help solve social and/or environmental challenges
- Work with a diverse group of people
- Work for an organization among the best in my industry
- Do work I am passionate about
- Become an expert in my field
Does this list surprise you? Would it surprise you to know that this list almost mirrors the list of the top six things as ranked by both Gen X and Baby Boomers?
While the top six were in slightly different orders, and both Gen X and Baby Boomers ranked “manage my work-life balance” ahead of “become an expert in my field,” the workplace priorities for all three generations is virtually identical.
Millennials really are way more like the rest of us than they are different.
The challenge is as old as the industry itself
Now, let’s get back to the apocalyptic prediction of the industry’s imminent demise due to a lack of ability to attract this next generation. I can’t deny that this millennial generation continues to come out of school with little to no interest in getting into insurance. But, just like the list above, it is just one more generational attribute that makes them just like every generation before them.
Be honest with yourself, you didn’t aspire to be an insurance professional either. In fact, almost nobody has ever aspired to get into insurance.
When speaking at industry events, I have asked audience after audience how many of them grew up and went to school with the intent and aspiration of getting into insurance. Never does more than a hand or two in the room go up and those couple are almost always the son or daughter of an agency owner. Attracting talent to the insurance industry has always been challenging.
The challenge may be real, but the fear of demise is unfounded
If you fear for our industry's ability to attract exceptional, young talent, you should have sat in on the sales training session we led recently. While most were new to the industry, all were, at the very least, newly recruited into their agency.
There was a different vibe to this group that was palpable from the very beginning of the program. I asked this group the same question about insurance being an aspiration and goal as they grew up. There was the predictable laughter at the idea as two hands raised tentatively. And, yep, you guessed it. Both of those tentative hands were attached to children of the industry.
The group of 30 ranged from the truly young (22), to the young-to-their-agency (2 days), to the young-in-spirit (60).
- They didn't throw around claims of being disruptors and innovators.
- They don't use the labels of rock stars or ninjas in their online profile.
- They weren't constantly posting selfies.
- They didn’t require constant praise.
- They proved their willingness to work their asses off to get better.
- They didn't claim to be changing anything other than the way they work to help their prospects/clients drive more predictable results.
- They inspired us.
Over the course of the training program, there was a quiet and growing confidence that pervaded the room as they allowed themselves to be challenged, challenged us in return, and challenged one another to execute on what they learned.
It doesn’t matter how you get here, it’s about what you do once you have arrived
While they may not have had a grand plan to get into insurance, there is no doubt they were proud to be there and excited for the career and opportunities that lie ahead.
As a whole, this is a group clearly intent on making a positive impact on their organizations. They all thrived in the diversity of the training class. They felt their agency was, at the very least, among the best in the business. Their passion was contagious. And, they knew they have a TON to learn, but looked as this training class as their first step to becoming an expert in their field.
Does that sound familiar? If not, look back at the list of six things millennials want in the workplace from above.
Now, back to the title of this post (Millennials Will Save the Insurance Industry in case you forgot).
To me, these will be the true disruptors, innovators, and change-agents of the industry. Their actions and results will speak for them.
They are forward-thinking, don’t want to accept the way it’s always been done, see the bigger picture, take pride in pushing boundaries, are connected to the larger industry, and truly want to make a difference.
But you know what? I also see these traits more and more every day in professionals of every age. The reason millennials will save the industry is that, just like with social/online, this is the new world in which they have come of age. They don’t know any different; just like they don’t know a world without Kardashians (as unfortunate as that is), they don’t know the traditional industry that has run its course.
How do you get some of the millennial mojo?
Would you like to attract this kind of talent to your agency? Then, chances are, you need to transform who you are as a business and the way you present yourself to potential candidates, whether they are millennials or young-in-spirit professionals of a slightly more advanced age.
Look at the list of six workplace-wants one more time. You can, or need to be able to, provide for every item on the list. But, you need to take the time to build that into your marketing message and then take that message to where the audience hangs out.
If you are having trouble attracting exceptional young talent, to paraphrase the saying – it’s not them, it’s you. I, for one, have never been more excited for the future of this industry or the talent that is showing up and helping to drive our collective transformation.
Photo by Tumisu