Last week, we wrote about our recent Distinguished Cellars event, which produced a variety of insights into millennials, those success-oriented, multi-tasking individuals born between 1980 and 2000. This week, we turn our attention to unpacking the themes we discussed, to see more specifically how we might tap into the this age group to fill the spots left open by aging Boomers—and how we can and should adapt to keep millennials happy on the job.
We need to better understand what makes millennials tick, what motivates them, and welcome the disruptive, positive changes that they bring to the workplace.
All about flexibility
Millennials (aka Generation Y) represent about 25 percent of the workforce in the U.S. and are set to make up 50 percent of the global workforce by 2020. Surveys show that Gen Yers want a workplace where they have freedom to make choices and have an impact, which means creating an environment that fosters this kind of business culture. They want more autonomy, control, and flexibility than what previous generations expected. That’s a good thing, especially in the insurance industry, where fresh ideas and new approaches are needed to meet the demands and expectations of a new generation of consumers and business owners.
Who better to do this than tech-savvy millennials who are not bound by the way things used to be done? They have grown up with broadband, smartphones, laptops, and social media as the norm and expect instant access to information; this innate expectation can help brokerages, agencies, and insurers innovate if millennials are given the opportunity to work in an environment that encourages and truly celebrates change.
Where’s the coffee?
The workspace is also something that influences where millennials want to work. Gen Yers are drawn to comfortable, collaborative, and creative spaces. They expect to work hard, but aren’t looking to do it while sitting in a vanilla-flavored, cookie-cutter cubicle all day, especially if there’s no coffee bar, on-site dry cleaning or at least a decent cafe with sandwich and salad options available. Having an environment in which employees are made to feel comfortable and stimulated to do their best work is good both for companies’ productivity and staff retention.
A rapid ascent
Millennials also expect to move up the corporate ladder faster than previous generations. In fact, numerous surveys show faster advancement through an organization for millennials beats out a competitive salary as a key benefit. They aren’t going to be content remaining, let’s say, in a position of client support year after year. Providing opportunities for growth and a variety of experiences is essential in keeping Gen Yers happy at and committed to an organization.
Work/life balance is a top priority for millennials, which means companies need to look at changing how performance is rewarded and come up with new models. For example, some industries are rewarding employees based on their results rather than the number of hours they work. They are also allowing employees to decide when and where to do their work (again, flexibility). The insurance industry can be a great career choice for millennials due to the wide range of opportunities available, as well as flexible work schedules (in some cases) and the ability to tie performance to bottom-line results.
Gen Yers care about the reputation and social consciousness of a company. It’s important for an employer’s corporate values to be in sync with theirs, and that millennials feel their company’s corporate social responsibility efforts allow them to be proud of where they work.
They also want their work to have a purpose and to be an integral part of giving back to the community, which is why employers that participate in a variety of social programs (e.g., mentoring and internship opportunities, programs involving STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—outreach, or participation in drives to support cures for breast or prostate cancer, autism, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, helping the homeless, ending hunger, etc.) that are in alignment with the values of their staff will fare better in retaining them.
We’re seeing a lot of changes taking place in the insurance industry, with new players and avenues of delivering product. Weaving millennials into the DNA of an organization, including in leadership positions, is key to fueling innovation and paving the way for a company to succeed.