Born between 1997 to the present, Generation Z represents a quarter of the U.S. population and are soon expected to outnumber millennials. To gain insight into how Gen Z feels about insurance careers, Applied Systems collaborated with InVEST® on a survey of this post-millennial generation.
The study, The Future of Insurance: Bye-Bye Boomers, Hello Digital Natives, surveyed over 400 Gen Z consumers and compared their responses to the results of a similar survey with millennials in 2015. The findings show Gen Z’s awareness of career opportunities within the insurance industry and their outlook on pursuing work in this field.
“This research is crucial to our industry,” says Deborah Pickford, executive director, InVEST. “We know that within the next few years, there will be at least 400,000 open jobs in the insurance field. That’s a lot of jobs to fill.”
Studies like Bye-Bye Boomers, Hello Digital Natives can help the insurance industry attract the next generation of insurance professionals. “If we can better understand what attracts, motivates and retains Gen Z workers, we have a chance at filling this talent gap,” Pickford says. “By gaining their insights, we can communicate better about the great opportunities in our industry and appeal to a young professional’s desire to make the world a better place through their work.”
To attract Gen Z to insurance careers, the survey implores employers to reimagine their traditional business practices, provide greater flexibility in the workplace and align themselves with Gen Z values. This will go a long way in convincing young people that insurance is an innovative and rewarding career, the study found.
“The most important takeaway from the Gen Z study is that insurance agencies need to rethink traditional business practices to attract this younger generation,” says Kris Hackney, executive vice president of Customer Experience at Applied Systems. “With more than 25% of professionals retiring by 2020, it is crucial to understand how to recruit and retain the next generation of workers.”
Gen Z is the first generation to be true digital and social natives. They were the first generation born into the use of social media, internet and mobile technology simultaneously. Therefore, it is not surprising that 58% of Gen Z consider innovation at a company they work for to be “very important.” But when evaluating career opportunities, most respondents considered “a job that aligns with personal interest” (44%) to be most important, followed by “income potential.”
Also, Gen Z believes that working with mentors to help them define their career paths is important, with 61% considering it very important, while 65% said flexibility outside the office was also very important, according to the survey. Meanwhile, Gen Z wants to stay in a job for at least three years, signaling a desire for security and stability.
“It is clear that insurance agencies need to incorporate flexibility into their business models to attract these workers,” Hackney says. “Key values from Gen Z respondents are similar to what we are seeing insurance consumers demand from their agents, such as being fast, transparent and flexible. Employers should be welcoming this next generation to drive digital transformation and customer satisfaction.”
“Insurance agencies can leverage technology to attract and retain employees. Mobile apps to access agency information anytime, anywhere is also a valuable tool for the next generation,” Hackney continues. “Additionally, working within the cloud is crucial. Gen Z is used to mobile access to information in every other facet of their lives, so it is critical to enable this generation to work from anywhere.”
As a considerable portion of the insurance workforce prepares to retire, there is still much to be done to recruit Gen Z. Only 14% of Gen Z respondents said they were interested in a career in insurance, while 39% said they were not, according to the survey. That means companies and insurance agencies need to adopt strategies as soon as possible to attract younger generations to an industry—which many young people view as boring—today.
InVEST has been fighting this battle since its inception. The program reaches out to young people at a critical stage of career consideration, their formative high-school years, and works hard to highlight the variety of careers offered in the industry. The program works with a network of insurance professionals and volunteers to connect with students in the classroom and provide first-hand insight into the industry.
“We know that younger people think our industry is ‘boring,' so it’s an uphill battle. But our main message truly is: ‘Whatever your interest, we have a career for you,’” Pickford adds. “We’ve been involved in some interesting projects to showcase insurance careers, including the College Agency Management Competition, and are currently developing a national insurance apprenticeship program so young people can ‘earn while they learn,’ which we believe will attract more Gen Z professionals to our industry.”
Will Jones is IA senior editor.