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Learn to Love Millennials – And How to Hire Them at Your Agency

Posted on June 21, 2016 by Guy Weismantel

Digital Insurer blog header

Did you know that by 2018, a quarter of professionals in the insurance industry will be retiring?

That's 25 percent of the workforce— gone. Perhaps the slow drain on the agency workforce wouldn't be so bad if new blood were rushing in to fill the vacant space; but agencies are having trouble recruiting young professionals from the millennial generation to the ranks.

Maybe you're wondering, "How can hiring a bunch of Millennials help my agency?" Thanks to pervasive stereotypes (laziness, entitlement), you might not see this particular generation as the most desirable pool from which to hire your next employees.

Millennial problems

 However, without the positive Millennial traits of confidence and curiosity, your agency could be left stranded and struggling in just a few years. If you can recruit the best of the best Millennials, you can refresh your workforce and keep your agency functioning at full strength in spite of the loss of 25% of your veteran employees.

There is a very clear bottom line: You must hire millennials if you wish to remain competitive in the upcoming decades. 

So the question becomes: How do you make a job with your insurance agency look appealing to a Millennial?

#1. Complete a Digital Upgrade

According to some experts, a millennial is someone between the ages of 18 and 34. Others label Millennials as those born between 1982 and 2004. Wherever you draw the bracket on the generational timeline, you have to acknowledge that Millennials are digital natives. Technology is practically a part of their DNA.

And this my friends, can be a huge benefit for you and your agency.

Steve Anderson quote

Just think of the benefits of having a digital native in the office to help you transform the way in which your agency does business. Employing someone with insights into what the next generation of customers is looking for from an insurance  can only have positive effects on your agency as your company evolves.

The question is, how do you get the top-notch millennial to come work for your agency? Imagine asking a tech-savvy millennial to come into your agency and work with ancient computers, outdated operating systems, and sluggish software. It's like asking a cat to play fetch with a stick; it just doesn't work. The cat will sit there and look at you with those inscrutable eyes, and then it will walk away to find someone with a laser pointer.

If you want Millennials to come work for you, you have to upgrade your stick to a laser pointer. Take a hard look at the tech resources available at your agency. Perhaps you need to conduct some internal surveys of your employees, young and old, to find out what changes or software upgrades they would like to see. Visit tradeshows or conferences and find out what's new in the realm of technology and software for insurance agencies. With the help of your IT department, design a plan for replacing old machines and installing fresh software.

Looking for some hard data to support these claims? Take a look at my previous post on the connection between technology and employee morale

#2. Engage with Social Media

If you want to recruit Millennials, you have to go where they live: Online. They won't be able to apply to your job openings if they don't know you exist. Find someone tech-savvy, responsible, and personable who already works at your agency, and make that person the face of your business's social media accounts. You need to be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and maybe even Snapchat. Start a blog or a podcast and produce some bits of fascinating content about the insurance business. When Millennials who are interested in the insurance field see your online interaction and quality content, there's a good chance they'll be hooked.

The most important thing to remember here is that Millennials have been trained to maintain and manicure their digital presence. They put a lot of time and effort into it and automatically assume the same from you. College classes suggest graduates should open a LinkedIn profile to connect with prospective employers, so wouldn't it makes sense for a company to start a page to connect with prospective employees?

Final word of advice here: don't try to do too much. Be realistic about your bandwidth. You need Facebook and Twitter, but that doesn't mean you have to update them daily. You just need to have a professional presence with links that steer users in the right direction (like the careers page on your website). Do what you can, and do a great job at it.

Hiring millennials

#3. Improve Your Company Culture

Maybe you feel a certain level of comfort with the sameness and safety of your insurance agency's company culture. To a Millennial, that safety and sameness is unbearable stagnation and boredom. According to Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends survey, 93 percent of respondents admit that company culture and engagement is their agency's biggest challenge. Unfortunately, less than half of that number were motivated to improve their office culture.

Insurance agencies are heavily regulated by necessity; but that doesn't mean you have to eliminate all the fun and excitement from the job. To entice Millennials to work for you, you need to be willing to embrace change. It might seem painful or anxiety-inducing at first, but maintaining the status quo means losing 25 percent of your people in 3 years and limping along with a skeletal workforce.

Begin by increasing company flexibility. Many of these Millennials are the parents of young children, and they want to be able to have time with their families. Maybe you can allow your employees to work from home a day or two during the week, or shift their work schedules to better accommodate their personal lives. Mobile technology enables everyone to be more flexible while remaining just as productive, or even increasing productivity.

Create a path for advancement. 44 percent of our survey respondents claim that career advancement is a top factor affecting employee turnover. If Millennials see themselves sitting at the same desk, doing the same thing, for the next 20-30 years, they won't stick around. Instead, create ways for high performers and dedicated staff to move up in the ranks or to earn special benefits. When you make a path for advancement, it gives your entire agency a sense of positive forward motion, and the potential rewards motivate everyone to do their best.

Making the Choice

When those Millennials start turning in their resumes and applying for a job with your agency, you might still feel tempted to hire the older, wiser, more experienced job candidate. You're not alone in that urge— in fact, 55 percent of all producer hires in the last five years were veteran agents. Just remember that the insurance veterans are probably in their late fifties, and they most likely have their eyes on retirement. Chances are, you've already got some veterans on board. Now is the time to hire those young, eager candidates with the energy that makes up for inexperience. If you're interested in perpetuating your business, cross the generational gap and make your agency the go-to employer for a new generation of insurance experts. Download the e-Book Managing Your Agency in the Digital Era to glean more helpful tips and ideas.

Mr. Weismantel is the Vice President of Marketing at Vertafore. With 20 years of marketing and financial leadership in companies such as Microsoft, Business Objects, Baxter HealthCare, Caremark International, and Expedia, Guy’s career has focused on bringing differentiated products to market and providing the “compelling reason to purchase” for customers and prospects alike.

Guy has a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame, and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.




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