In the wake of changing attitudes, norms and expectations, here are four things the insurance industry can do to meet new challenges and to better cater to the human needs of their customers.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a transition in the way workers approach their jobs. Gone are the days of the classic 9 to 5. Remote work, while no longer a public health necessity, remains the preference of workers who seek flexibility. Trends like quiet quitting and the Great Resignation have made it clear that people are beginning to advocate for lives that incorporate work, rather than revolve around it.
However, some work-related patterns were already years in the making before the pandemic brought them to fruition, according to research from Cake and Arrow, an insurance-sector experience design and innovation company. These include the increasing appeal of the gig economy and side hustles, the disillusionment of millennials toward traditional work environments, and the struggles felt by families trying to achieve a sustainable work-life balance.
Exacerbated by the onset of the pandemic, employee retention is an issue for businesses, workers are more likely to trade higher wages for benefits that improve the overall quality of life, and gig work has become a more viable option for steady income.
In the wake of changing attitudes, norms and expectations, here are four things the insurance industry can do to meet new challenges and to better cater to the human needs of their customers, according to Cake and Arrow:
1) Cater product design to the needs of gig workers. With a growing gig economy comes the growing needs of workers who classify themselves as businesses. Therefore, the insurance industry needs to invest in flexible direct-to-consumer products that protect people from the financial risks—from injury to professional liability—associated with gig work.
Cake and Arrow suggested exploring working relationships with gig platforms like Fiverr and Upwork, freelancer marketplaces and employee associations.
2) Reconceptualize employee benefits toward reducing burnout and improving work-life balance. Post-pandemic, employees are more interested in products, policies and services that help them reduce the weight of work on their personal lives. Yet, while nearly 80% of employees state that mental health coverage is critical, only 61% have access as part of their benefits package, according to the 2022-2023 Aflac WorkForces Report.
Cake and Arrow suggests that viewing the benefits enrollment experience through the lens of the end customer and not just the employer is the start of making benefits more valuable to employees. Integrating enrollment into the day-to-day experience of employees can simultaneously allow employees to better see the value of their benefits, as well as reduce the stress of putting their benefits to use, Cake and Arrow said.
3) Reimagine insurance products to better serve small businesses. Small business owners, freelancers, gig workers and employees are not necessarily separate entities. Products designed specifically for small- to midsize-business owners may have value across the board. Insurance products can be sold and packaged to serve the emerging needs of new types of workers and businesses, opening new distribution opportunities for insurance companies while also protecting a new demographic of customers.
4) Connect with the values of younger consumers. While improving digital experience is a valuable tool for reaching younger customers, it isn't as essential as connecting with their values, the utmost of those being community, according to Cake and Arrow. Millennials are seeking authenticity and interdependency within the increasingly depersonalized digital age, and with the rise of remote opportunity, workplace communities have become fragmented and decentralized.
The insurance sector is underscored by a common idea of bringing communities together to share costs—improving upon its transparency and trustworthiness can increase its value to those younger consumers looking for a connection.
Ann Seaberg is an IA contributor.