Blog article

Millennials: A sense of purpose


by Shaun Tarbuck, Chief Executive, ICMIF

9 February 2017

It’s that time of year again, when so many of us make New Year’s resolutions that cover both personal and business areas of our lives where we vow to make changes for the better. This year, I would like to suggestion a resolution for all of us in the mutual and cooperative insurance sector to ensure we engage with millennials in the best possible way we can. To ensure that the millennial talent we already have working for our organizations really feel engaged and valued by their organization, even by the sector as a whole, and to give them an all-important sense of purpose. Also, we must resolve to do all that we can to make our sector as attractive as possible to the vast pool of highly talented and motivated millennials out there to ensure the continued growth and vitality of the sector.

Christmas gives me the chance to catch up with family and friends and conversations with my four children, aged between 20 and 27 years old (plus their many friends who visit us over the festive period), invariably revolve around career choices and career development.  For these millennials it is a huge decision as to which industry to go into and I inevitably find myself talking with them on options they may have. 

Most of my children’s friends know that I work in the insurance sector but don’t see how this is linked to key issues that concern so many of them such as climate change, sustainability, microinsurance and disaster risk/resilience. Our industry really does have great opportunities for the brightest and best of millennials to build a career with purpose. This is something that worryingly most millennials seem to be almost totally unaware of, in fact most view the insurance industry as less attractive than banking!!!   

So we really do have a challenge to attract the best and the brightest graduates in to our industry and in to the mutual/cooperative sector.  We all talk about our staff being our most valuable asset so surely we should be doing our best to attract the best of the millennials who are seeking a career with both challenge and purpose to our industry in the first place.  Once we have them, of course, then the challenge for us is to inspire and keep them.

So what is it that millennials look for in a career? I believe it is this sense of purpose. On the surface this may not be immediately apparently, this comes from some desktop research I did where I found an article published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) entitled This is what millennials look for in a job which gave the top five priorities when looking for a job were money; security; holidays; great people and flexible working. Most of these we can claim the insurance industry (including mutuals and cooperatives) do very well in.  When you look more closely at what the article says that millennials want , however, you see that a large percentage want a job with purpose and one with continuous lifelong learning and development, again I believe that the mutual and cooperatives industry does this well – but can we improve? Should we be resolving to do more?

Another report, The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey: Winning over the next generation of leaders, examined what millennials prioritize when looking for a job other than salary and financial benefits.  Given that most salary packages for millennials will be similar it strikes me that the differentiators that companies can offer will be in the answers to this question.  The top three priorities for millennials are good work/life balance; opportunities to be leaders; and flexibility in working, all of which are, again, done well in much of the mutual and cooperative insurance industry.

Then looking at the next five key priorities and we have; a sense of meaning; impact on society; that all important sense of purpose; opportunity for international travel; and a company and leaders that people admire.  All five are areas in which I believe the mutual/cooperative insurance sector can and does really excel in.  It also explains why the millennials I have been speaking to recently are becoming more interested in our sector and see it as a very interesting and attractive career choice given the huge opportunities to meet their priorities wish list. 

In a bid to help our members attract and retain the best of the millennial talent ICMIF has established a Young Leaders Forum through which we hope to offer the means for millennials at ICMIF member companies to network, share best practice and learn from each other. We also plan to use the information collated through the meetings of the Forum to share what it is that millennial talent is looking for with the senior leaders of our member organisations so that talent retention becomes easier.

This enthusiastic group of talented millennials met for the first time in 2016 in November when they produced a great presentation for the ICMIF Intelligence Committee, who met at the same time, on what they see as their key priorities for their careers and how they would like to contribute to their respective organizations. Their presentation mentioned all the same issues and hopes/desires that are highlighted in the Deloitte report plus it also spoke of other aspirations they share which include gaining greater exposure to senior executives and a better understanding of the global issues and opportunities within our sector and how they can have a true sense of purpose and feel they can make a positive impact on society. Another key component of the presentation was the strong desire of all those in the Young Leaders Forum to have the opportunity to attend and participate in ICMIF’s Biennial Conference in London, UK, in October 2017, and more specifically in the Young Leaders Programme which will run alongside the main Conference for the first time ever this year.

I believe it is beholden on us as leaders of the mutual/cooperative insurance industry to give millennials the opportunities to see the good we do in society and why we have purpose in what we do. In my opinion this is the best way to attract and then motivate and retain our best staff.  The ICMIF Biennial Conference 2017 is our best showcase for all the good that we do and a great opportunity for your millennial team members to see just how well the mutual/cooperative sector can help them achieve their priorities and career expectations. Those participating in the Young Leaders Program will have the chance to learn from their peers at other ICMIF member companies and also enjoy the opportunity to network with senior executives, industry leaders and key external influencers from around the world. All there is much in the work that ICMIF and its members do that has great potential to help us attract, motivate and retain the millennial talent that is so vital for our sector. There are some fabulous individuals who are seeking exactly what we have to offer and the work that we and our members have been doing recently around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; climate change and disaster risk/resilience at the policy level; and the 5-5-5 Mutual Microinsurance Strategy projects at a practical, grassroots level; all really do appeal to millennials and we should use every opportunity to get them engaged more.

For member-only strategic content on the cooperative/mutual insurance sector, ICMIF members have exclusive access to a range of online resources through the ICMIF Knowledge Hub 

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