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Next Wave
A New Focus

As post-millennials enter the workforce, insurers must recognize their unique characteristics.
  • Carly Burnham
  • December 2018
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Carly Burnham

Carly Burnham

Our industry has yet to solve the recruitment and retention issue regarding millennials, but we must start focusing on post-millennials now.

As we close out 2018, it's time to address the elephant in the room. Millennials are getting old … I feel it. My friends feel it. The post-millennial generation feels it. And still, it seems possible that our parents, employers and the popular industry press aren't recognizing it. This year, the oldest millennials turned 37, and if you use the 1997 cutoff that the Pew Research Center has adopted for post-millennials, the oldest of this generation has turned 21. What does this mean for our industry that is still “trying to figure out” how to be an industry of choice for millennials? It means we need to accelerate our efforts to modernize our corporate cultures, human resources practices and information technology management and systems. Why do I believe that these efforts are even more important in retaining post-millennials than they were in retaining millennials? Here are a few characteristics of the next generation:

Digital Natives

If we thought that millennials were addicted to their cell phones, there isn't even a word for how attached post-millennials are. Going into an office where “green screens” still exist will seem utterly foreign to the 2019 class of college grads who likely never used an Apple IIe, like me and many of my cohorts did in elementary school.

Social Justice Warriors

The students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School activated people all over the United States in the aftermath of the February 2018 shooting. Their tweets were as effective as the president's at getting national media attention. They used their platforms to open up a conversation that attacked the issue from many angles, bringing in students from Chicago to talk about the difference in media coverage of mass shootings and more quotidian gun violence and why it matters. This is only one issue where this generation is already more socially active than my generation. We can expect that they will value work that is pro-social, and insurance offers those opportunities, but still hasn't figured out how to own that message in an authentic and convincing manner.

Embrace Diversity and Inclusion

Many companies in our industry have embraced diversity and inclusion efforts, but we are still seen as stodgy, white and male. Demographic trends tell us that the post-millennial generation will be the most racially diverse generation we've ever seen. They are also more comfortable than any prior generation with fluid gender and sexual orientations. Many organizations are still working toward openness in this arena. We must speed up.

Entrepreneurial

In place of traditional part-time jobs, post-millennials are building “side hustles.” This means they'll come into the workplace with the expectation that their experience building something will be meaningful to their employers. Our industry is slow to adopt results-based performance metrics in place of time-based. We are adapting slowly, but we should be prepared for a generation even more aware of the fact that time-in seat does not, in fact, equal productivity.

Unconvinced of the ROI of Higher Education

Post-millennials have witnessed the effects of student loan debt. They are questioning the value of traditional diplomas. Much of our pipeline building has been based in colleges and in hoping for more risk management programs. We should recognize that talent may come from other pathways, especially with the increased ability to educate oneself online. Determining how we can find that talent and assess its capabilities will be essential. Our industry has yet to solve the recruitment and retention issue regarding millennials, but we must start focusing on post-millennials now. Transferring knowledge to incoming professionals requires that we retain them long enough to make the knowledge transfer stick.

 

Carly Burnham, CPCU, MBA, has been in the insurance industry since 2004. She blogs at InsNerds.com and can be reached at bestreviewcomment@ambest.com.


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