One of the biggest recruitment challenges facing companies in 2018 is how to hire and retain millennials. Of course, there are plenty of generic tips and bits of advice that can be useful to take heed of.

For example, we are consistently told that learning what makes millennials tick is half the battle won. Similarly, we are told that to retain millennials companies need to give regular feedback and provide ample training and professional development opportunities.

All this is true, but is there anything specific to the insurance industry that will help companies attract and retain millennial talent?

A millennial recruitment crisis?

Some people will tell you that the insurance sector is facing something of a millennial recruitment crisis. When you consider the high number of workers in insurance who are close to retirement age, you can see the potential scale of the problem.

Of course, lots of baby boomers retiring should create lots of job openings in the insurance sector. However, studies suggest that as few as 4% of millennials see insurance as an appealing career choice. Now, you can see what we mean by millennial recruitment crisis.

So, what can insurers do to deal with this crisis? Well, firstly – as many people have noted in the recruitment sector – the lines between recruiting and marketing have become increasingly blurred. The insurance industry needs to market itself better to attract millennials.

Insurance has something of an ‘unsexy’ image. Long hours and hard work aren’t great selling points – but it’s not all bad, is it? Companies simply need to highlight the more appealing aspects of working in the sector. There are perks and privileges that will ‘sell the sector’ to prospective candidates. It’s just that millennials haven’t considered these because they haven’t heard of them. So tell them.

Understanding that they need to market themselves more effectively to a millennial audience, insurers can then go and seek them out. Having the right message is one thing, making sure you communicate this message on the right platforms is vital too. The message needs to be seen where millennials are.  I see a lot of activity and discussion about this within the industry but, not as much being done outside the industry where it really matters most.  This is one reason I have started working on events and strategies geared towards people outside the industry to try and recruit them into the field.  These activities are receiving great interest, by the way.

How do you retain millennial talent?

Attracting millennials to the insurance industry is a challenge. However, keeping them engaged and interested  is even harder. Millennials, perhaps unfairly, have a reputation for wanting to ‘job hop’. The stereotype is that this is the hardest generation to keep hold of.

There is an element of truth to that, yes, but it’s also simply a sign of the times. The days of the worker spending decades with the same company (in any sector) are long gone. It’s an outdated model.

So retaining millennials means that you need to create clearer paths to leadership, to appeal to the go-getters. Recognition and reward are rated very highly by millennials. Equally, they want to feel that they have a voice and, in particular, that their voice is being heard. These are things that aren’t exclusive to millennials, it’s simply good practice. But, millennials want to be valued – and satisfied that their full range of talents and skills are being used.

In my observation, millennials have a lower tolerance for employer missteps and veiled promises if you can’t or don’t back-up your commitments.  Where baby-boomers may tend to put their heads down and just get their jobs done no matter what, millennials have a strong desire to work in transparent and flexible environments so if they get a sense this is not what they signed up for, they will jump. 

This means that employers need to be open to flexibility. We are entering an exciting period of generational change within the industry.  Change can be good, if we embrace it.  I understand not everyone likes change but, we would be better served to recognize there is a “new dawn on the horizon” as Oprah said recently. 

Let’s all get out in front of it and see how we can enhance our own careers while learning to embrace our new millennial peers.