The insurance industry faces an urgent need to attract a new generation with new talent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and AARP, within 15 years as much as 50 percent of the current insurance workforce will retire. In addition, the industry is changing so fast that it can no longer rely on traditions and standard practices; insurance requires new ideas and new skills.
While all industries eventually face a time when there is a passing of the baton from one generation to the next, insurance is taking a hit now because we have an older than average workforce. So, we must engage with so-called Millennials to show that insurance is, in fact, an innovative and rewarding industry to work in.
In the early 1990s, when the California dairy industry faced a similar dilemma, it came up with the “Got Milk?” campaign. The campaign resonated with an important demographic, kids aged 12-18, who were being drawn away from milk by massive brand campaigns from providers of other beverages. The campaign was wildly successful, reinvigorating milk sales after three decades of declines.
The insurance industry needs the equivalent of a “Got Milk?” branding campaign. It needs to contain three key messages:
1. Insurance is an increasingly savvy industry.
Insurance carriers have had to adapt and evolve for centuries. Today, insurers are incorporating cutting-edge technology, including big data and predictive analytics. Tech is becoming a mainstay in the industry.
Companies such as Vodafone and Burberry have shown how data can transform marketing, and insurers will follow their example. As a whole, the industry will become much more innovative.
So, the industry should be enticing not just to young talent who are inherently tech-savvy and creative but also to those students who have a history in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
2. Insurance is a sustainable industry.
In an unstable and uncertain economy, insurance has longevity on its side. As long as people continue to drive cars, buy homes and, simply, work, there will always be a need for auto and homeowners insurance and workers’ compensation. Insurance offers job security for Millennials who may be nervous about the fluctuating job market.
The insurance industry also provides a unique opportunity for young people to establish a solid foundation for a career with room to grow. Whether someone wishes to be an underwriter, an agent, or an actuary, there is a little something for everyone. Millennials tend toward “job hopping,” and insurance can provide young people with enough internal mobility to maintain their interest while keeping them within the industry.
3. Insurance is a service industry.
The insurance industry serves an important common good by allowing all of us to share risk for a small fee (premium) so that an accident or a storm does not ruin people financially. Without insurance, most people wouldn’t be in the financial position to start a business, own a home or even have a car. The core purpose of insurance meshes well with the interests of Millennials, 63% of whom volunteered for a nonprofit in 2011, according to the Millennial Impact Report. People who have a passion for helping others might welcome being a customer service representative and being the first point of contact at an insurer or might enjoy being an underwriter and ensuring that insurance policies are accurately written to provide a customer with the best protection.
Moreover, as young people’s talents and passions are brought into the industry, insurance carriers can expect to become better at what they do. In other words, the expertise stemming from new generations will allow for more accurate and, most importantly, more responsible insurance practices when handling scenarios such as relief from natural disasters.
The insurance industry truly makes a difference in people’s lives, often during difficult times. Young people can transfer their compassion into a career that delivers tangible results not only for themselves but for other people, too.
How will we attract and lead the new generation?
Where do we go from here? How do insurance companies draw talent when the competition is so fierce?
The first step is to use the tools we have – each other. The insurance industry can unite to overcome this talent crisis and collectively focus on appealing to the Millennial generation. An example of collaboration is Tomorrow’s Talent Challenge – an initiative involving industry leaders to motivate college students to explore the career potential in insurance analytics and technology.
We must also recognize that Millennials are looking for leadership they can relate to. Insurers need to hire people with titles such as chief decision scientist and chief data officer to head new departments of digitally savvy experts, if insurers are to draw young, tech-savvy talent. Creating and filling these roles will not be easy. According to McKinsey, by 2018, global demand for technical and managerial talent will exceed supply by 50 to 60 percent. We need to start working on the problem now.
If we as an industry can attract the right senior-level talent, can effectively communicate the professional and personal benefits we can offer to young people, and can articulate the creative contributions they offer us, then we will be on the right track for everyone to be asking the important question: