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Understanding the Millennial Workforce

Understanding the Millennial Workforce

To understand the motivations of the Millennial generation is to crack one of the great codes of modern staffing. Companies across a wide variety of industries are anxious to better understand what a Millennial workforce means to their business, and the insurance industry is no exception. While there is some disagreement on the exact years by which the Millennial generation is defined, it is safe to consider individuals born anywhere between the early 1980s and late 1990s, possibly even into the early 2000s, as potential Millennials. The importance of identifying the thought processes, habits and motivations of a generation lies in the magnitude of the information. There is no larger demographic that offers a wider berth of insight than generational identification.

What’s a Millennial?

There has never before been a generational group that has faced more scrutiny in terms of identifying and understanding than the Millennials. In the world of big data and near-instant assessment, the research and information regarding Millennials seems to change almost daily. Some researchers refer to Millennials as the Peter Pan generation, referring to their propensity to delay certain rites of passage long thought to represent the transition into adulthood (i.e. marriage, career, etc.). Other researchers point to studies that suggest Millennials are more likely to exhibit narcissism than older adults, implying they are more self-indulged and self-entitled than previous generations. Still others argue that of the basic characteristics that define each generation, Millennials possess the traits that suggest they are more “civic-minded” and more similar to the G.I. Generation (also referred to as the Greatest Generation) in their sense of community.

What drives Millennials?

As the workforce of the insurance industry shifts to focus primarily on Millennials, companies are scrambling to attract the best and brightest this generation has to offer. To do this it is important to find what motivates Millennials and consider how your organization can leverage those factors in your favor. As the definition of the Millennial generation has evolved, certain elements have changed or gone entirely extinct, but two important motivating factors that have continued to apply to Millennials is their quest for growth and meaning in their work. What this means is that Millennials are interested in careers in which they feel there is real potential for advancement. Millennials are also interested in careers in which they believe they are making a difference in the world. More than past generations, Millennials look at their employment as a reflection of their civic duty. Companies that can prove to be incubators for talent and that have a forward-thinking approach are the ones that will be most attractive to Millennials.

What are some Millennial misconceptions?

There is no shortage of misconceptions when it comes to Millennials. The Peter Pan comparison has carried with it an assumed lack of motivation and work ethic. This jump in logic has led to a negative connotation surrounding the work behaviors of Millennials, thus affecting the approach of companies when interviewing them. One of the most surprising misconceptions regarding Millennials is their loyalty. Many employers see this generation as being most apt to leave a company in pursuit of other opportunities, when in fact they are more loyal to employers than Gen-Xers. Underestimating the loyalty of Millennials can create an atmosphere of mistrust, hampering the possibility for success for both employer and employee.

One final note about Millennials, which is important to consider in regards to approach, is that they are the least likely to self-identify. Where as Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers have little trepidation when it comes to being referred to as their respective generational titles, Millennials largely dislike the act of being labeled. Despite being able to paint them with the same brush, to some extent, they are more responsive to being treated as individuals. It can be a bit confounding (and a bit frustrating) attracting and understanding Millennials, which is why partnering with a staffing agency like The James Allen Company is so vital. We continually read and research the literature related to not only the insurance industry, but the demographic of the people who will represent the largest portion of its workforce for the next several years.

Do you want MVPs or championship rings?

Do you want MVPs or championship rings?

For as long as sports journalists have been shoving tape recorders and microphones in the faces of successful coaches, we have been privy to their “secrets of success.” The responses have become so typical that we can recite them as if we are the Lombardis and Woodens of modern business. The responses rarely change and the secrets are hardly clandestine because the elements of success are pretty obvious:  talent, hard work and a team-first mentality. Each of those elements on their own can be helpful, but rarely do they translate into wins unless they work together. Staying ahead of the competition means delivering on all three levels, but what is the best way to maximize the opportunity for success in each area?

Talent

Think of the most naturally gifted athletes you’ve observed. They appear to be working hard, and they probably are, but they don’t seem exhausted. When the other players around them begin to lose their step, they step up. Talent is easy to recognize but hard to find. It’s also difficult to define. There’s a reason the most successful sports organizations in the world do not rely solely on their own inner office to discover and attract fresh talent. The scouting industry is a vital component to the efforts of championship teams. Having people who specialize in uncovering and attaining talent is the most effective way to ensure you have access to those individuals who rise above the crowd.

Hard Work

For as many talented individuals who have found success, there are far more who seemed to have that x-factor but never maximized their potential. Whether it was personal failures, injuries or other circumstances, for every Michael Jordon there is a Kwame Brown or Sam Bowie. What is more frustrating is when we watch players with loads of talent squander it because they’ve reached a level where they have to work in order to stay ahead and they just fail to do so. Talent alone isn’t enough if it’s not coupled with work ethic. This hearkens back to the benefit of a talent scout. They not only calculate the hardline statistics that signify talent, but they get to know the players they scout to better understand their drive and determination.

Team-first Mentality

The Patriots, the Yankees, the Bulls. These teams have exemplified what it takes to create a dynasty. They find talent that other teams either look over or under-utilize. They work harder than everyone else. And they concern themselves with team success over individual success. What we find when we examine these teams is that by focusing on team success, they found individual success. Talent rises higher when there is a great team around them to lift them farther up. This takes sacrifice, but sacrifice now means greater success later.

As executive recruiters specializing in the insurance industry, we at The James Allen Companies pride ourselves in finding talent that not only has the individual potential for success but also shows the greatest promise for making your organization better. We believe in continued success for everyone, and we know that everyone succeeds when talent fits with the team you’ve already cultivated. We are experts in locating and attracting candidates who would rather win championships than MVPs. We do this by sourcing and understanding individuals who have the talent, a proven history of hard work, and a team-first mentality.