Talking about my generation? Attracting and retaining the employee of the future

6th January 2020

If you’re anything like me, it may feel like you’ve heard all there is to hear about the future of insurance; where the industry is going, the next big development for Insurtech and what businesses great and small need to do to survive. Indeed the theme of our annual conference last year was exactly that, “survival of the fittest”, and our attendees spent the day focusing on the future challenges and opportunities for MGAs. 

Insurers, brokers and, most importantly, customers, are constantly evolving. The next wave of consumers hitting the market are the Gen-Z types, those born from the mid-nineties onward.  This generation consumes data in vastly different ways to previous generations, with their Instagram stories, TikTok and YouTube influencers. But we mustn’t forget the millennials, I am still very much a part of the future so my needs must be met as well thank you very much. 

Of course, it isn’t just the consumers, my younger peers and I will form the core employee demographic too, with research suggesting that as much as 75% of the workforce is currently made up of millennials and Gen Z-ers. As if by magic the MGAA team hits this trend bang on too…how very compliant. 

Businesses need to be aware of the evolving make-up of their workforce in how they operate, how they develop their culture and how they attract talent.  This is a key concern that we have at the MGAA for the industry, how do MGAs as well as financial service businesses remain attractive to not only the buyers of the future, but the employees too?   

One idea is that of “Reverse Mentoring”, defined as an initiative in which older executives are paired with and mentored by younger employees on topics such as technology, social media and current trends. The concept was first introduced all the way back in the 90’s by the boss of General Electric, Jack Welch, who asked senior employees to pair up with younger colleagues to learn about new technology trends.  It proved to be a success, with new ideas quickly being developed for the business. 

Having been through the process of reverse mentoring myself, I can see that the method could be greatly beneficial to MGAs, helping to invigorate fresh thinking and new ideas to drive their businesses forward and keep pace with the changing dynamics of the market. 

But how do we get it right and ensure not only a successful outcome for the business, but also that our millennial or Gen Z employees feel like their experiences and insights are truly valuable.  In my experience there are a few things that all parties can do to make reverse mentoring an effective way of preparing a business for the future. 

  1. Find the right pairing 

This is crucial for any mentoring relationship to flourish. The Guardian did a piece on Reverse Mentoring that talked about the right mentor being “senior, but isn’t your line manager. They should have a good understanding of the nature of your work, usually because they work in your field.”  I agree with this.  My mentor was a good fit for me during the sessions we had. I felt that I was being listened to and that I could be honest throughout.  Don’t be afraid to admit that the relationship doesn’t feel right, there is no point continuing in something that clearly doesn’t work.  The best ideas, conversations and feedback all happen with someone you can make a connection with. 

  1. Have a programme of meet ups … and stick to it 

This is where I got it wrong. Mentoring a senior leader in a business is hard due to a lack of availability.  We managed to get a 4 or 5 sessions in and then the day job took over and we couldn’t get the impetus back. Both of you need to find time for this and to schedule in regular meet ups for the future. Without this, momentum will be lost and no progress will be made. Having that clear timetable of sessions should help put a structure in place that works for both parties. 

  1. Make it meaningful 

It sounds simple doesn’t it? But both mentor and mentee need to have a clear objective for what they want to get out of the sessions before they begin because, as we know, time is precious. Senior leaders must be clear on what advice, trends, habits etc. they’d like to know more about and make time to explore those learnings. Mentees need to have an equally clear idea of what they want to achieve and ensure the session addresses this.     

There are businesses out there that are already incredibly attractive to new talent, creating vibrant cultures and implementing solutions that allow employees to work in a way that suits their lifestyle.  Reverse mentoring is another tool businesses can use to keep in touch with the younger employees in the business and make sure their needs are being met and their voices being heard, it worked for me when I was a fresh-faced new recruit back in 2012! 

Ben Busfield

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  • Author : MGAA
  • 6th January 2020