Brokerage Ops the September 2023 issue

We Don’t Know Them

Gen Z is the incoming demographic. Do you know who they really are?
By Ken Crerar Posted on August 31, 2023

Their assignment? To pitch the insurance industry to Gen Z. It got me thinking. As senior leaders in this industry, how well do we know the newest generation (those born in 1997 and later)? And how can we interest them in insurance if we don’t know what they care about?

One of the best ways to prove your value as a broker is to truly know your clients—whether that means the ins and outs of their community or business line. If you truly understand your clients’ perspective, you can better reach them with the right solution. I don’t think it should be any different with young talent. We have to get to know them before we can be attractive to them. And we better start. According to Johns Hopkins, in 2030, Generation Z will constitute about 30% of the workforce.

So I did some digging, and, while I certainly have much farther to go in order to truly know this generation and what they need at work, I have learned a few things that lead me to believe we really are a good fit for them.

First, they are entrepreneurial but want stability. According to Johns Hopkins’ report “Gen Z in the Workplace: How Should Companies Adapt?” Gen Z is “searching for opportunities to grow and advance in their jobs due to their need for financial security, their entrepreneurial mentality, and their competitive spirit.” A Deloitte report titled “Welcome to Generation Z” noted that Gen Z’s preferred career development is to have diverse and entrepreneurial opportunities within the safety of stable employment.

In insurance, you are working with clients whose needs are always changing, piloting new technology, building relationships across industries and geographies, all under the umbrella of a solid organization that offers a product that is never going to become obsolete. So yes, I think we can deliver on that need.

They also want—no, demand—diversity and inclusion. They are the most diverse generation in history, and both Johns Hopkins and a Gallup report titled “Generation Disconnected: Data on Gen Z in the Workplace” agree that DE&I is not a “nice to have,” it’s an expectation. So why, you may be asking, do I think the famously non-diverse insurance industry would be a good fit? Because it’s who we aspire to be. If we want the future to work with us, we have to be the workplace we keep saying we want to be.

Many employers are finding new hires lack either basic skills in the industry they’ve trained for or the soft skills needed to interact with others. Some report disengagement and distraction from their new hires.

And it’s not just about DE&I. According to Deloitte, 77% of Gen Z respondents to their survey stated it was vital to work for a company whose values aligned with their own. What are those values? Thirty-nine percent of Gen Z respondents claimed they were very or extremely engaged in environmental concerns. And our own interns echoed this concept, discussing their desire to drive positive change in their work, with the environment being a big area of focus. Our industry is on the front lines of climate change, and the most innovative among us are working toward resilience and sustainable risk management for natural catastrophe risk. There is tremendous opportunity here for a value-driven and tech-savvy generation to drive real, positive change in climate risk.

Speaking of tech-savvy, I know I point out the obvious in saying they are digital natives. But understanding their information consumption habits is important. According to consumer research firm GWI, 98% of Gen Z-ers say they have a smartphone and they spend on average more than four hours a day online on their phone. What are they looking at? According to Statista, in 2021 TikTok counted 37 million Gen Z users. The only social media app to log more Gen Z-ers was Snapchat at 42 million. Videos, messaging, short reels of content—that’s how they’re consuming, how they’re informing their world view.

When we asked our interns if they had data privacy concerns using TikTok, they shrugged it off. They know their data is being collected, and frankly, they don’t seem to care. In the heavily data-guarded insurance world, it’s not a perspective we often see. It certainly presents an opportunity to think more about data sharing and open-source models.

Certainly there is much work for us to do in order to engage Gen Z. They are the generation whose higher level academic and business development—skills often learned on a college campus or early on in an office environment—were taught via Zoom (if at all) during the pandemic. Some early results of that demonstrate a gap in certain skills that may need to be taught on the job.

According to a Wall Street Journal article titled, “How Do I Do That? The New Hires of 2023 Are Unprepared for Work,” since 2020, the pass rates on national certifications and assessment exams taken by engineers, office workers, soldiers and nurses have all fallen. Scores for college admissions exams dropped to the lowest level in three decades. Many employers are finding new hires lack either basic skills in the industry they’ve trained for or the soft skills needed to interact with others. Some report disengagement and distraction from their new hires.

According to Gallup, 54% of Gen Z and younger millennials reported being “not engaged” at work. The report notes that most young workers don’t feel a close connection to their co-workers, manager or employer.

It’s up to us to build those connections—to mentor them, help fill in the gaps and show them the opportunity they have in this industry. But we have to know them first. My next step in the journey? I’m joining TikTok.

Ken Crerar CEO, The Council Read More

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