This was the topic of a panel discussion at Dive In 2017, the festival for diversity and inclusion in insurance.

On 28 September 2017, panellists James Harmer (JLT), Nikki Heald (Corptraining) and Demetrio Zema (Law Squared), along with moderator Reece Corbett-Wilkins (Norton Rose Fulbright), discussed how the next generation of professionals will change the landscape of the insurance industry, and what the established players must do to adapt and thrive in this new world.

Here are four take aways from the discussion on how the insurance industry can engage, attract and retain millennials.

1. Redefining Wealth

Millennials’ definition of wealth is different to that of a Baby Boomer’s or Gen Xer’s.

James explained that the next generation of workers are redefining the concept of wealth itself – by viewing wealth through the lens of accumulating experiences and affecting change, not in terms of dollars and cents. Opportunities to take international secondments or delve into charitable work are viewed just as favourably as large salaries and material possessions.

Further, the display of wealth is changing. In the age of social media, ‘Instagram-ing’ exotic foods indulged in abroad is akin to driving around in a sports car.

2. Think mentors, not managers

 Millennials are (in)famous for their ambition and impatience – they want to reach the top, yesterday. However, millennials are also renowned for their fragile egos, caused by a trend of ‘doting parents’ and ‘participation awards’. Consequently, the new generation of workers demand a new style of management.

All three speakers agreed on the different expectations millennials have regarding mentorship in the workplace – regular feedback, affirmation, and clearly marked pathways for development are essential for ensuring millennials feel supported and well-equipped to succeed in their role. Any feedback needs to be delivered constructively.

Millennials also want to see merit, not seniority, dictate the dynamics of leadership. While they typically look to established mentors for career guidance, millennials expect to be listened to when they speak up on topics they are well placed to advise on. Age should be no barrier when sharing ideas. Nikki mentioned that millennials are in a unique position to educate non-millennials on how to use technology to better facilitate business, which is a key differentiating strength.

3. Work-life balance is dead

The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017 observed that millennials really do want it all – freelancing and short-term contracts still play to millennials’ stereotypical impatience and restlessness…and yet, the allure of stable, full-time work remains strong.

Demetrio considered economic conditions to be central to this equation. Where the economy offers opportunities to take risks, the millennials will take them, but the anxieties of a post-GFC world have not been fully quelled. James agreed: while the going is good, a millennial today may want everything, whereas during a downturn, millennials may just be happy with a secure job.

The solution seems to be ‘work-life integration’. With a globalised world demanding that work hours contort around time zones, and millennials pushing for flexibility in working arrangements, 9-5 seems to be replaced by unique arrangements dictated by the demands of the clients and the business, not the clock. Weekend meetings and business breakfasts are fast becoming the norm.

4. Who is an ‘employer of choice’?

When asked what a millennial looks for in an employer, the panel reached consensus around one word: agility.

Considering the changing attitudes around the value of goods vs. experiences, around how managers interact with their employees and the rise of work-life integration, the one certainty is that the work landscape is changing. Employers must shift their focus towards fostering a culture of innovation, swift responses to the changing market and being on the forefront of technological change.

With millennials soon to make up the majority of not just the workforce but of the new consumer base, established companies must ask themselves whether they have the requisite agility to cater to these demands imposed by the new generation and remain ‘employers of choice’.

How the insurance industry – unanimously dubbed ‘conservative’ by the panel – responds to this challenge remains to be seen.

Norton Rose Fulbright proudly co-sponsored the 2017 Dive In festival.

Read our article ‘Dive In 2017: D&I as a client acquisition strategy’ here