To thrive into the future, agencies need to attract and empower millennials and Gen Z employees to be the next generation of leaders.
By 2025, Generation Z will make up more than a quarter of the U.S. workforce and millennials will account for more than 40%. The generational makeup of independent insurance agencies is starting to shift as well. In fact, 1 in 4 of the most recent agency hires was from Gen Z, according to the Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance 2022 Agency Growth Study.
Overall, however, the insurance industry has struggled to attract younger talent. Less than 25% of the industry's workforce is under 35 years old and half of the workforce is set to retire in the next 15 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As older independent insurance agents head toward retirement, millennials and Gen Z employees will be the ones stepping up to perpetuate agencies. To thrive into the future, agencies need to attract and empower this next generation of leaders.
Here are five ways that agencies can effectively recruit and retain younger employees:
1) Tell stories of the meaning and purpose behind your agency. Both millennials and Gen Zers want to work for companies with strong values and purpose. The majority (95%) of Gen Z job seekers said it's important for their work to have meaning, according to a study by Zety.
Insurance agencies can offer the type of meaningful work younger employees are seeking. When asked what makes their agency a great place to work, the top answer given by independent insurance agents was “opportunities to help people," according to the Liberty Mutual and Safeco study.
To attract younger talent, agencies can highlight the meaning and purpose behind the job in recruitment efforts. Agents can tell stories about the work they do in their communities, times they got to help a client during a loss and other examples of the meaning and purpose behind their work. Telling these stories in engaging ways on social media platforms may help agencies connect with younger job hunters.
2) Offer flexibility. Options for flexibility are a top consideration of many job seekers. Nearly half of millennials and Gen Z employees would consider quitting if their job wasn't flexible about remote work, according to a survey by Bloomberg.
In contrast, many agency leaders are eager to get people back into the office. More than half (56%) of agents plan to be back in the office full time this year, Liberty Mutual research found. But with more employees looking for remote work opportunities, agency leaders should work with employees to find solutions that benefit everyone. Giving employees the flexibility they need will make them more likely to stay with the agency through the different stages of their life and career.
3) Build workplace cultures that prioritize employee well-being. The high levels of uncertainty, stress and burnout over the past two years has shifted what employees want and expect out of a workplace. A majority (80%) of employees would consider quitting their current job for one that focused more on employees' mental health, according to TELUS International.
Gen Z especially is conscious of how work impacts their mental health. They expect their managers to show empathy and express concern for their wellbeing. To meet these expectations, agencies can work to create human-centered agency cultures and consider offering additional wellness benefits to employees.
Employee well-being is a worthwhile investment—Gallup found that employees who say that their employer cares about their overall wellbeing are nearly 70% less likely to actively search for a new job and five times more likely to advocate for their company as a place to work.
4) Invest in career development opportunities. Younger generations are highly entrepreneurial and ambitious, with more than half of Gen Z hoping to own their own company, according to Nielsen. Additionally, half of women younger than 50 who worked in frontline staff roles were interested in becoming a partner in their agency, according to a recent Liberty Mutual and Safeco report.
Harnessing that ambition can be a win-win for agencies looking for perpetuation plans. But to attract and keep this next generation of leaders, agencies need to show how they invest in employee development and offer great career paths.
5) Embrace diversity and inclusion. Gen Z is the most diverse generation in history, and they expect the companies they work for to support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
In fact, 83% of Gen Z candidates said a company's commitment to DEI is important when choosing a job, according to a Monster survey. Agencies that embrace DEI will be better positioned to attract top candidates.
Millennial and Gen Z employees are reshaping the future of work and independent insurance agencies can offer them a lot of what they are looking for in a job. If agencies can show off their mission and culture throughout the recruitment process, offer flexibility and invest in employee development and wellbeing, they will be well-positioned to attract leaders for the next generation.
Jen Farrell is director of agent and customer research at Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance.