Op-Ed: The Hartford Millennial Survey

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millenialWhen reading through the Insurance World’s headlines this past week, I noticed several outlets reported on The Hartford’s 2015 Millennial Leadership Survey. The primary statistic highlighted was that only 4% of Millennials are interested in entering insurance. The only industry less desirable than insurance was wholesaling and utilities, coming in at 3%.

I suppose that we, in the insurance world, can react impulsively, take this the wrong way and get mad at Millennials because they just don’t understand the real world. How do they expect to succeed when they are so impatient? It has been documented how they move from job to job more than any other generation. Millennials certainly need to be less lazy and entitled. Maybe they can spend less time on Instagram and more time establishing themselves in their respective career.

Or, maybe we should stay positive.

Instead of seeing it as 96% of Millennials don’t like insurance, I’d prefer to spin that into: I am lucky enough to work in one of the country’s most underrated industries.

And maybe we become a bit more introspective. Could it be that the millennial perception is actually our fault? For as long as I have been around, the insurance industry has never been accused of being a leading edge industry. I think we all can agree that everything from the technology to the policy forms are always lagging behind front line innovation.

Our weakness is communication.

We have to make it known that there ARE insurance companies and agencies that are doing the right things. These companies ARE innovative and WILL provide ample career opportunities. We have to make it known that the insurance world will have a much higher ceiling than what may currently be perceived. Additionally, if the statistics from The Hartford are correct, there may be much more opportunity ahead.

We have to do a better job educating Millennials about our industry. Millennials have a defined focus on industries and one of the benefits of the insurance industry is even if they aren’t working directly in the industry they desire, they can work WITH that industry through insurance and risk management. This is something we stress at Deland, Gibson and we have engaged millennials working with their passions.

We have to challenge, push and create value for the Millennials to want to stay at our companies. We, as business leaders, cannot be entitled to think that all we need to provide is a competitive salary and benefits package. Young people entering the workforce want the satisfaction of knowing their effort matters, that they are working toward a greater good. We have to offer them a pathway to that greater purpose.

We also have to recognize everyone’s unique abilities. Maybe Millennials actually aren’t lazy; maybe they are just tech savvy and disengaged because companies don’t have a clear mission and strategy for the future? Maybe by finding the optimal work/life balance, the Millennial will actually be MORE productive than someone wearing a tie, sitting in a cube, disengaged, daydreaming of the weekend.

I challenge that the insurance industry can offer careers that can be just as lucrative and sexy as finance or commercial real estate. It reminds me of the riddle: if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a noise? Well, if no one knows about jobs in insurance industry where people can build their own hours, work with their passion and achieve their optimal life balance while being extremely productive — Does it really exist?
The answer is yes. The tree did make a sound when it fell, and these jobs do exist. We just need to make some noise about it.

I am a bit biased, as I have been in the Insurance Industry for about 10 years now – all with one company – but what do I know, I am just another millennial.

Chip Gibson
Deland, Gibson Insurance Associates, Inc.

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