This article originally appeared in Independent Agent magazine. The author, Tim Davis, is sales manager at WorkersCompensation Shop.com, an independent insurance agency that writes commercial insurance in all 50 U.S. states.
I am your stereotypical millennial, and I love my job in the insurance industry.
Oxymoron? Not at all.
The stereotypical millennial embraces technology. We want to know how things work, and we know the answer is always at our fingertips. We have a strong sense of self-worth. We want to make the world better. We demand respect. We like working in teams. We prefer work and life to integrate seamlessly. We want to learn. We want to lead. We want to make money, and we want others to make money, too.
If you think the insurance industry doesn’t have anything to offer an employee who fits that profile, you’re under the influence of other stereotypes. It’s not that millennials aren’t interested in working in insurance. A career in insurance is actually a great fit for the typical millennial’s workplace preferences—millennials just don’t know it, because the insurance industry hasn’t been properly targeting them.
If you ask an insurance expert to identify the biggest problems facing the industry today, they would probably cite lagging technology and an aging workforce. It makes perfect sense, then, to hire fresh faces from the most tech-savvy and employable generation, and ask them to help us take our technology to the next level. Bonus: That challenge has a nice ring to the ear of the typical millennial.
When I started at The Insurance Shop at age 27, I’ll be honest—I planned to take the job for a few months before figuring out what else was out there. But I soon realized I had stumbled into my dream job, and that it’s not far off from what a lot of my peers describe as their dream job, too.
Here are five messages your agency can use to spread the word that the insurance industry is a perfect-fit career for Generation Y.
You can make a difference. Millennials want to invest in a place where they can make a difference—preferably a place that makes a difference itself. That’s insurance!
Is there a better way to make a difference than knowing you can play a role in helping a person or business make it through the worst moments of their lives in one piece? What other industry can boast that it plays a role in every natural disaster on the planet? That’s the message the industry should lead with.
You can feel important. It’s no secret that insurance has been slow to embrace technology. Even GEICO only launched its online operations in 2006—a full 11 years after eBay. Compared to most other sales and service industries, insurance is essentially still stuck in the year 2004.
Why would a millennial want to hitch their wagon to such an old-fashioned industry? The transition has to happen—and the old way isn’t going to cut it anymore. No one can deny the potential of data, analytics and other tech to make everything better, from the carrier experience to the agent experience to the customer experience—which means a millennial could play a big role in driving serious improvements across the entire insurance space.
For the average millennial, the opportunity to have a loud voice in their company’s strategy and direction right off the bat carries enormous weight. As an industry, we have to get better at listening to these ideas—any suggestion creates the potential for identifying and solving a problem.
Remember, too: Millennials are artists. According to The Hartford’s 2015 Millennial Leadership Survey, 40% of us want to work in arts and entertainment, and 36% want to work in technology. Both those statistics reflect a desire to create something. Millennials want to know they’ll be a valued partner at your organization. Show them your business will respect their voice and ideas.
You can collaborate. You’ve heard it before: Millennials grew up earning a participation trophy for just showing up. It’s an exaggerated trope, but there’s some truth to the idea that most millennials are happy if everyone wins, and we tend to feel more invested when we can work as a team.
Insurance offers this type of collaborative work environment at every level. CSRs collaborate with producers at every agency, where every department consistently discuses ideas with other ones. And at the carrier level, it’s crucial for management, underwriters and marketing reps to work together as a team.
You can go places. A millennial loves a challenge. In a career, we want to know what the next step is and what we need to do to accomplish that next goal. Most important, our employer must be able to articulate the next challenge they need us to tackle.
According to Forbes, 72% of millennials would like to be their own boss, but if they have to work for someone else, they want a supervisor that acts like a coach or mentor. The insurance industry already has an excellent stepping-stone structure in place. All you have to do is give a millennial the road map and leave it up to them to step up to the plate and take it to the next level.
You can support yourself. It may be secondary to other career benefits, but money is still important to the average millennial. Marketing tip: When promoting this benefit, don’t compare pay scales within the industry. Instead, use the other career options a millennial might have as a comparison point.
Many millennials feel that their skillsets translate well to a variety of industries and may not feel particularly passionate about one sector. If we can maintain a high quality of work and life while making more money, we’re happy to trade up.