Individuals born between the 1980s and 1990s, known as Generation Y or Millennials, are coming of age in an increasingly digital world, armed with every mobile device imaginable. But despite being constantly connected to the world around them, Millennials are individuals – students, parents, entrepreneurs and ultimately, the shapers of society as a whole.
The entire industry – P&C, health, and life and annuities – is being shaped by this group of people in two ways: as consumers of insurance and as the industry’s own executives and associates. This level of influence will have an impact on all insurance products, including how those products are designed, how they are sold and delivered and what technologies will be developed in order to support both the seller and buyer of insurance in this tech-driven insurance marketplace.
Millennials as Carriers, Brokers and Agents
According to research conducted by PwC, Generation Y has rather dominant social needs. They enjoy team cohesion, supports from managers and flexibility in how work is performed. Contrast those desires with previous generations where transactional needs of the insurance workforce were far more dominant. Earlier generations desired control over their work, wanted development opportunities and were seeking pay satisfaction. However, Millennials prefer a bit more of a work-life balance, than preceding generations – who didn’t necessarily strive for such a thing.
Even though much of the work within insurance companies today requires certain technologies, there are still many processes and workflows that are still manual and do not require much use of technology. With the advent of Millennials into the workplace, these established business processes are to become more collaborative and flexible – complete with supervisors possessing forward-thinking ideas. Millennials will reshape not only how the work is done in an insurance company, but how the company should go to market, improve customer service, sell its products and through which channels. They will also know the marketplace better since it’s comprised of their peer group.
On the distribution side of insurance, Millennials will fill the ranks of the agents and advisors as they work with their clients. Possessing an entrepreneurial spirit is key to recruiting the next generation of agents. Despite fears of “disintermediation” and the advance of direct sales in some lines of business, agents are not a thing of the past. Yes, technology is impacting the industry, butinsurance is still a complex product that isn’t easily understood by the layman. There will be pressure from Millennial agents to get the technology right because these are the people that will be selling to the entire Generation Y population. They’ll be able to access office information from any place or time and will have everything they need at their fingertips – through the use of mobile devices.
Social Engagement + Millennials
One of the most common findings of all demographic surveying is that Millennials are deeply concerned about social justice and making a meaningful contribution to society. Millennials seem to really value working for companies that are socially engaged and desire to produce services and products with meaning. This commitment to social awareness can be a major advantage to the global insurance industry – there are few industries that can lay claim to benefiting society as much as insurance can. Insurance is nearly a $5 trillion global business that touches the lives of many people. Providing insurance that enables people to own their homes, financial protection from catastrophic health claims or even investing dollars into state and local debt that fund schools and hospitals are just a few of the insurance industries contributions to society. The challenge comes in trying to articulate the benefits the industry has on society to Millennials who are seeking work in an industry deeply committed to doing societal good.
Generation Y in the workforce will learn to understand what their non-industry counterparts need within the insurance marketplace and figure out a way to best accommodate them. They will bring a new level of technology to the industry that attracts and retains customers of this generation for years to come. Companies that are proactive in recruiting and retaining Millennial employees will certainly reap the benefits.