Why is it that in a lot of agencies across America, the younger generation of producers, brokers, and CSRs are frustrated? Nationwide, agencies do a good job of attracting talent. It’s the challenge of retaining that talent that keeps most principals scratching their heads.
In the last few years, we have seen an increase in new agencies opening their doors. There are a whole range of factors creating this, but one that many principals overlook is the power to fail.
Think about it in another way. They say it took Thomas Edison hundreds or thousands of different types of filaments to finally find the right carbon combination for the first patented light bulb. If he was a young insurance professional in your agency, would you have let him try and fail that many times? He had the power to fail, and it allowed him to succeed. Young insurance professionals all across America are not allowed to have the power to fail so they flee the industry or the agencies they work at to begin their own. This is totally avoidable.
For today’s young insurance professionals, it is not in our generational genes to want to flee and be independent. We are a generation built on teamwork, and we crave mentoring and guidance. We want to know where we are going before we get there. We don’t mind doing the work, but we want a say in how that work is done. We do not mind trial and error. We want the security of knowing that if we fail, that’s OK. This is where the communication breakdown between veteran insurance professionals and young insurance professionals occurs.
Veteran insurance professionals became successful by using their reputations in the community and providing great service over many years; they know very little outside of these ways. They have worked and should not go unnoticed or disrespected.
Are you giving your young insurance professionals the power to fail or the power to succeed? Trust in them, let them go and get out of their way; in doing so, you will let them help the organization. And if they fail, be understanding and mentor them with your wisdom. Giving your young employees the power to fail will show you to be supportive and reassuring.
Young people in the industry today are yearning to be included in managerial issues and agency marketing efforts. When principals and senior staff are setting retention and growth goals, young people want to be able to have input in the conversation. We are a generation of problem solvers and thrive on creating ideas in team environments.
If an idea from a young person is acknowledged but not put into place, the veteran needs to communicate why the idea was not used. Communication on expectations and position within the agency is essential and should be very clear from the beginning. In a baseball game, all the rules are set before the game is played. The rules can’t just change in the middle of the game.
Make it known early to your younger employees what your expectations are and what their future in the agency looks like, so long as they do their part. They want to know what their future entails. Employer loyalty is just as uncommon as employee loyalty in the world we live in today.
Young insurance professionals like to have flexible hours. Traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours can be inflexible and difficult for the schedules of today’s parents and families. One of my mentors once told me, “Blessed are the flexible for they don’t get bent out of shape.” This great saying means so much when applied to working hours.
Give your employees the power to fail. Trust in their ideas, and insert their voice into the agency direction. Let them help in the development of new and different procedures and workflows within the agency.
Just a few small things implemented in your agency will help you retain your young people and grow your business in ways you never imagined. Today’s successful agencies are doing just that and investing in the ideas of tomorrow.
Jason D. Cass (jason [at] jdcins [dot] com) is group owner of JDC Insurance and chairman of the Big “I” national Young Agents.