Industry Trends | Read Time: 5 Minutes

Attracting Millennials and Gen Z: It Starts with Technology and Innovation

April 20, 2016

By: Deborah M. Pickford

You couldn’t wait to become an insurance professional. It was a career you dreamed of since you were a child. In high school, you told everyone you were going to college to study insurance. Right?

Well, if you’re like most people, probably not. And similar to many of us, you started working in the insurance industry by chance or someone told you it was a great place to work – and that turned out to be true. Today, one of the best kept employment secrets is that people working in the insurance industry are likely to experience stable, high-paying jobs, and have a fulfilling lifelong career.

With nearly 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day in the United States, approximately 65,000 of them are employed in the insurance industry. According to a recent article in Insurance Journal, “Almost half of insurance industry professionals are over age 45, with 25% of the industry expected to retire by 2018. What’s more, there will be 400,000 open positions by 2020.” That’s a lot of jobs and today insurance companies and insurance agencies are working hard to attract and retain employees to close this talent gap in their businesses. To interest more young people in the industry, insurance companies and agencies must get the message out that they are innovative, and technologically savvy, and offer stable employment.

As millennials and Gen Z have emerged as the new political power, the new consumer, and the new face of our global workforce, we must quickly tap into how to draw them to insurance careers. To better understand what millennials and Generation Z are looking for in terms of insurance service providers and careers, Applied Systems collaborated with InVEST, a school-to-work insurance program, to conduct a first-of-its-kind survey of this post-millennial generation and compared insurance habits of millennials verses Gen Z. Here’s what we found:

Gen Z Places a High Value of Technology and Innovation

You won’t be surprised to learn from our survey that technology is important to both attracting future insurance employees and captivating our future consumers of the insurance industry. And here’s some statistics from our survey:

  • 88% of Gen Z said when thinking about purchasing insurance, access to information and service via a mobile app is important to their decision
  • While calling agents directly is still a primary channel for millennials to communicate with insurance agents, 37% say they prefer to use an insurance providers website
  • 57% of Gen Z say that it is important for a company to provide the ability to work outside the office (hence technology must be in place)
  • 48% say it’s very important and 45% somewhat important for Gen Z to work for a company that is innovative

Millennials and Gen Z Differ in Insurance Purchase Channel Preferences

Another interesting finding from the InVEST/Applied survey is that both generations value insurance providers or insurance agents as a “trusted advisors” when they are seeking information about insurance. Millennials and Gen Z have different insurance purchase preferences: Gen Z prefers purchasing insurance in person from an agent (55% Gen Z and 37% millennials) vs. online (29% Gen Z and 37% millennials) or via phone (16% Gen Z and 28% millennials).

At the same time, both generations have an appetite for online service technology and mobile access to insurance agents. On-demand, 24/7 digital access to service and information is very important and definitely influences their choice of insurance provider. One thing’s for sure, companies that continue to innovate with technology at its heart – Apple and Facebook, for example – are finding fierce and loyal advocates in these generations.

Millennials and Gen Z Place High Value on an Innovative, Flexible Workplace

Finally, for insurance to be an appealing career option, millennials and Generation Z both say insurance firms must demonstrate that they are innovative, service driven, secure and stable, entrepreneurial and profitable as well as flexible. The good news is there’s some really great innovation happening in the insurance industry right now such as mobile apps to assist customers with insurance transactions, and remote telework options for insurance staff, which provides them  with 24/7 access to all the information they need to deliver exceptional service — even when away from the office.

What looms before the insurance industry is:

  • How do we close the employee gap and attract top talent to our industry?
  • How can we drive the insurance industry to fully embrace technology and showcase this transformation?
  • How do we effectively convey to millennials and Gen Z “how cool” our seemingly old school, but long and strong standing insurance industry really is?
  • How do we convey that the insurance industry is a great place to have a career?

For those of us in the insurance industry, we need to find answers to these questions now.

Deborah M. Pickford

Deborah M. Pickford is the Executive Director of InVEST, a non-profit organization with a mission to improve the insurance literacy of students and attract new talent to the insurance industry. Prior to joining InVEST, Deborah served for 10 years on Allstate's Capital Region Leadership team as a Senior Corporate Relations Manager and also worked on national flood insurance issues. In addition, she served as the Chairman of the Board for DriveSmart Virginia and Vice-President of the Virginia High School League Foundation Board for five years. Deborah also worked as press officer under Andrew Cuomo at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as served on the editorial board at USA Today.