• Millennials … a key part of our future

    In 2015 the millennial generation surpassed the number of all other generations in the workforce.  In addition, in the United States alone, millennials have $1.3 trillion in annual buying power.  So without a doubt, millennials are important to consider when you are marketing your brand or attempting to attract them to your organization or to our industry.

    Here are a few key points when marketing to millennials:

    1. Segmentation – proper audience segmentation allows you to deliver your message where it matters most. Never think the millennial market can be segmented by age alone. After all, even the age bracket for millennials is debatable. Finding the ideal audience requires being very specific.

    2. Make it relevant – your content must be relevant to at least three factors: age, location and cultural interests. Drive your message around what is important to your organization and the type of millennial you want to work for you. Millennials also tend to make decisions based on data, so make sure that you are quantifying your value in a relevant way.

    3. Rock their emotions – millennials are emotional. If you can rock their emotions, they will feel obligated to share it, embrace it and want to be a part of it. Generate ideas about happiness, excitement, affections, hope, anticipation and more.

    4. Mind your length – millennials are not only exposed to several options, oftentimes, they are also incredibly impatient. They lose interest quickly. So if you want to grab their attention, say it quick and say it well.

    5. Don’t underestimate videos or going social – today’s generation is highly visual. A study by the NY Times reports that 34% of millennials watch more videos online than TV. Fifty percent also watch a video at least once a day. Social media is the top activity of a millennial. Use all the social tools to attract their attention.

    Millennials don’t remember a world where the Internet wasn’t around. Social medial, blogs, websites, apps and online reviews are their primary source for making a decision. For digital marketing efforts to be successful, we have to create a marketing effort that strikes a chord with millenials.

    Bringing Talent to Our Industry

    Many leaders in the risk management industry are aware of the difficulty we are currently experiencing with regards to attracting new talent. It’s evident to me that there are not enough collegiate programs set in place to funnel qualified graduates into our industry let alone expose students to the many outstanding careers that are available.

    Even more pressing is the fact that one-fourth of the insurance industry workforce is expected to retire by 2018. So, before our current group of leaders enter into retirement, we need to ensure that there is a sufficient talent pool available for the important transfer of knowledge that must take place to not only ensure the perpetuation of our industry, but also the quality of service that we provide to our clients.

    The time to act is now.

    One way to mitigate our impending loss of experienced employees is to reach out to wider range of college graduates. Those with degrees in liberal arts, science, mathematics and others can be perfectly suited for risk management related careers. Sometimes colleges are unable or unwilling to expose students to the wide variety of professions available after college so we, as an industry, should be willing to accept them with open arms and expose them to the opportunities we have to offer.

    Another avenue worth pursuing is to reach out to individuals with backgrounds and prior careers that are unrelated to our industry. I’ve found that many enter our industry from backgrounds other than insurance and risk management, but quickly adapt and seize the opportunities that are presented to them. They offer talents and experience that can benefit us and I feel it’s worth the effort to attract qualified candidates wherever they may be found.

    Of course, let’s not forget our veterans. They offer a serious talent pool that is sometimes unrecognized and underutilized. People with prior military backgrounds come from a culture with mission accomplishment in mind. They’re taught to lead, be intuitive and to have a strong work ethic. All of these are qualities that our industry leaders are looking to bring on board to strengthen their team. This also applies to military spouses. They’ve learned to not only adapt to many different environments and situations, but to prosper as well. All critical skills in our industry.

    In all, I recommend that we look outside the box when searching for the new talent we need to keep our industry thriving. Speak to your local colleges and universities. Instruct your human resources departments to broaden their searches. Be open to new ways of determining who is qualified to tackle the position you wish to fill. Don’t let qualified candidates get away because they can’t find us. For our industry to grow, it’s up to us to go find them.

    Managing Multiple Generations in the Workplace

    When managing generations in the workplace, leaders at every level are tasked with managing employees who can span multiple generations. Recognizing the differences, both the pros and the cons, of each generation is key to laying the groundwork for a successful workforce program.

    Currently, we have at least five generations in the workforce: veterans, baby boomers, generation Xers/Yers and millennials. With each should come different expectations as a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work.

    Baby boomers are known for being competitive and thinking workers should pay their dues. Generation Xers/Yers are likely to be more skeptical and independent-minded and millennials are prone to prefer teamwork, feedback and technology. All of these generations can be great assets to the company, but each require and respond to different tactics of engagement.

    With baby boomers, we get valuable experience that cannot be readily replaced. As they move toward retirement, we need to ensure they are sharing this experience with the generations that follow them. Generation Xers/Yers are entering the prime of their careers and are eager to make their mark as they progress, drawing knowledge from the generations before and after them. Millennials embrace current technology with ease and can be encouraged to apply this toward moving the company forward into the future with innovative ideas. As a leader, it is important to learn to recognize the differences between generations so each can be effectively engaged for optimal performance.

    There are many overlaps and opportunities for synergy between each group. Facilitating the mentoring and sharing of knowledge and experience between generations is key, as well as keeping employees engaged through education and by assigning tasks that are outside of their daily job activities. This especially applies to millennials. They seek access to learning and professional development in the workplace. Contrary to popular misconceptions, millennials are very hard workers and willing to devote themselves to companies they feel are willing to invest in them.

    One-fourth of the insurance industry workforce is expected to retire by 2018. As an industry, it is important we recruit the millennials into the insurance industry and educate them on its wealth of opportunity. It’s up to us as leaders to equip ourselves with the knowledge, patience and forward thinking required to not only embrace and retain the latest generation of workers, but to foster and continue the growth of their more established peers.

    We all have preconceived notions of what a perfect employee is, but effective leaders recognize that it’s the combined efforts of each generation in the workplace that really gets the job done.