More than three-quarters of millennials view insurance as a lifelong career and 82% are optimistic or very optimistic that the industry will evolve to attract the next generation, according to Vertafore’s Millennial Revolution survey.
After surveying 3,000 young professionals—10 times last year’s respondent pool—the second annual report found work-life balance and technology to be top traits of overall job satisfaction for millennials in insurance.
And whatever the industry is doing seems to be working: 77% of millennials plan to stay in the industry as long as possible. “Without having a silver bullet, a few key things [for agencies] to recognize is the types of environments and opportunities that are attractive to millennials in the first place,” says Guy Weismantel, vice president of marketing at Vertafore. “Our industry is well set up to have a lot of those things that people are looking for that are going to be attractive to them: freedom, responsibility, work-life balance.”
What’s contributing to the long-term outlook? Here are four things independent agencies are doing right:
Work-life balance. The survey found that work-life balance and compensation (both 98%) are the most important factors keeping millennials around, with enjoyment of work (96%) as a close follower.
“The flexibility in our industry allows for different working models,” Weismantel says. “At a very basic model, it’s the ability to work from anywhere and be connected to your customers and understand what’s happening with claims, policy renewals and prospecting for new business. There’s a lot of flexibility that millennials we know in general really regard very highly in career choices.”
Personal relationships. It’s hard to imagine someone jumping into the independent agency business if they aren’t a people-person, and millennials are no different. Developing close personal relationships with clients is a tried and true characteristic of the business, and it’s a trait Gen Y seems to value.
“[Millennials] really value the personal relationships they develop and find that the insurance industry is a place that allows them to have those types of interactions and flourish in that,” Weismantel says. “Because it’s a very relationship-oriented business, oftentimes they have the opportunity to get out on the front line a lot sooner. If they’re on the producer side, they can really start to develop a client list and start to run their own business.”
Embedded technology. Weismantel says last year’s survey revealed that the industry was “on the threshold of a tipping point” when it came to technology and improving millennial’s work experience. Looks like the industry paid attention to the generation’s expectations: This year’s results reveal positive results from the investment.
“What’s happened in the succeeding 12 months is that that technology is now becoming embedded in business process and now it’s a way for people to do business,” Weismantel says. “It’s gone from ‘I want my agency to be investing in technology to help me do business’ to ‘Technology is now how we do business.’”
Social engagement. Millennials are reaping the benefits when using tech and social media to engage with potential customers and foster potential relationships: 34% of millennials use social media for lead generation and new business. It’s another segment that has seen a surge in involvement when compared to last year’s results as agencies are taking note of the benefits.
Because the young generation is already so digitally involved—71% use their smartphones for work and 82% feel technology increases efficiency and the competitive edge—agencies who want to recruit the generation for fresh perspectives, engagement style and succession planning should stay digitally savvy.
But 18% of older survey respondents still view technology as a detriment to productivity. “I think we see some inhibitors to widespread adoption, but I don’t know if it’s conflict as much as it is just generational resistance,” Weismantel notes. “We do see a generational dividing line in terms of how the technology is being used, but less about a conflict and more of a different kind of channel that I think agencies are starting to adopt to attract these younger people to buy insurance in the first place when more and more of that’s a challenge for many agencies.”
If the industry is to successfully compete against directs or outside industries for a boost in millennial employment and satisfaction, agencies need to take note. Weismantel says Vertafore has seen more and more agencies really start to tout their technology as a recruitment differentiator.
“With digital sophistication being so high amongst millennials, there is an open, green field for younger people to chart a course,” Weismantel points out. “And that’s really appealing to a younger person because there’s not an inherent plan in place that they just have to follow and go do paint by numbers. They’re having a lot of ability with creativity to go after finding new customers. The use of technology not only arms them with great devices, for instance, but how technology is being used to attract and retain new customers—that’s a really strong message to get people involved.”
Morgan Smith served as IA assistant editor.