Listening to and respecting the expectations of Gen Z
While much of what is said
about the goals, priorities and
aspirations of Gen Z is true, it is often
By Grace Grant
The insurance industry is witnessing a paradigm shift as the career aspirations and expectations of the next generation of the U.S. workforce are reshaped by Generation Z. While the industry has made strides in recent years to connect with emerging talent, many industry leaders are unsure of the goals and priorities of this new class of professionals and how their expectations differ from previous generations.
Preconceptions around younger workers persist when it comes to their preferences regarding work, compensation or even their planned career paths. These include views that these workers want more pay than they deserve, that they want to work from home full-time, and that they are unwilling to relocate for new opportunities.
But do these opinions align with reality? We will delve into the desires of Gen Z workers in the insurance industry, examining whether stability, growth, money, mission, or other factors hold the greatest appeal, and answer the question: What do Gen Z workers want most from their insurance career?
Career growth and development
Stability and career growth are deeply intertwined for Gen Z insurance professionals. They are not content with merely punching in hours; they crave continuous learning and seek opportunities to expand their skill set.
Unlike previous generations, they actively pursue rotational job opportunities. They yearn to explore different facets of the business, immerse themselves in various departments within a company, and gain diverse experiences through a structured rotational program. This broader skill set not only enhances their versatility but also provides them with a clearer vision of their long-term career trajectory.
Mentorship plays a pivotal role as well, according to the Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS) annual recruiting survey data. An impressive 70% of survey respondents claimed mentoring was critical for their professional development. Young professionals yearn for guidance from seasoned workers who can share insights, offer advice and help them navigate the intricacies of the insurance world.
To cater to these ambitions, employers must foster a culture of learning and make doing so a priority. Investing in robust career development initiatives, such as coaching and training programs, will empower these young professionals to excel in their roles and advance within the organization.
Work and life balance
The global pandemic ushered in a new era of remote work for all industries, including insurance. This development, and similar hybrid-work models, have been embraced by Gen Z workers. They seek companies that understand the importance of harmonizing work commitments with personal priorities.
Our survey data found that 63% of respondents preferred a work environment that allows for a blend of remote and in-person work. This adaptable work structure caters to their need for flexibility and autonomy, while also providing a venue for valued in-person mentoring and training opportunities.
Employers offering flexible work hours, generous paid time off and a supportive work culture will undoubtedly appeal to this generation.
Mission and purpose
Gen Z workers are deeply driven by the belief that their work should serve a meaningful purpose. They actively seek employment with companies that align with their values and contribute positively to society and the environment.
Firms that prioritize social responsibility, sustainability and ethical practices stand to attract the most interest from these young professionals. In fact, 38% of respondents to our annual survey noted a desire to be part of an organization with a clear mission to make a positive impact on society.
To engage and retain these emerging professionals, insurance companies should clearly communicate their commitment to these values. A strong mission and purpose-driven culture will resonate with Gen Z workers, fostering a sense of pride and fulfillment in their work.
Benefits and compensation
While career growth and purpose are vital, compensation remains a critical consideration for Gen Z workers as it has for many generations of workers before them. These pragmatic individuals were born into a world where the wounds of Sept. 11 were new and fresh. They have witnessed the challenges of two U.S. recessions, a housing market implosion and two market downturns. Consequently, this is a generation keenly focused on the importance of financial security.
Moreover, they have seen their parents’ and grandparents’ generations struggle with financial burdens due to healthcare issues. As such, healthcare coverage ranks high on their list of benefits when evaluating potential employers. Data from the GIS annual survey revealed that 48.3% of respondents considered healthcare benefits as the most important factor when choosing an employer, surpassing paid time off and salary considerations.
To attract and retain these Gen Z workers, insurance companies must offer competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits packages that address their financial security concerns.
While much of what is said about the goals, priorities and aspirations of Gen Z workers is true, it is often easily misunderstood. These professional workers want a balanced blend of growth with stability, money with purpose, and work with a life outside of it. Insurance organizations have the opportunity to reap a rich harvest of new and talented workers coming out of college or moving to the insurance industry from other professional fields.
To do so, insurance leaders and managers should better familiarize themselves with the nuances and sensibilities of this dynamic generation.
By understanding their priorities and adapting to their needs, the industry can create an inclusive and fulfilling work environment, setting the stage for a successful future.
Embracing the aspirations of GenZ not only will elevate our industry but also will shape a new era of innovative, purpose-driven growth that offers a lasting impact.
Grace Grant, executive director for Gamma Iota Sigma, has more than 15 years of experience in the financial services industry, including 10 years of insurance industry nonprofit leadership. She joined Gamma Iota Sigma in 2013, and championed a significant expansion of the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy through the establishment of the Gamma Iota Sigma Foundation.