The Age of Millennials Is Over. What’s Next?
They are coming.
Curious who they are? Keep reading because you’re about to find out.
If we are going to talk about who “they” are we’re also going to have to talk about the “M” word.
As a female, millennial agent starting out in the early 2010s (is that how you say that?), it was not uncommon for me to be the youngest person in the room at industry events…by a few decades. The word millennial was almost a dirty word back then. Man…the conversation was super negative, and I heard it all of it. I heard how we were somewhat lazy, I heard we didn’t play by the rules, and the worst one was that we were the most entitled generation yet…if you were a youngin around this time maybe you can relate. I heard so many conferences, and webinars and speeches on how to deal with us I could’ve taught the course myself.
So, millennials now. It is 2020 and by the grace of God we will soon move happily forward into 2021, but we KNOW millennials very well in this time and place. Afterall, as of right now, we make up 50% of the global work force and even more interesting according to Dr. Google is that seven out of 10 of those millennials are female. After all this time though, people have started to figure out some of the positives for this group of people. Simply put, millennials are creative as a whole, and they are change agents and great problem solvers, having grown up at the beginning of this new digital age, figuring things out for themselves. But we know this now because millennials have been in the workforce for about 15 years and were said to be the most studied generation. Keyword being “were.”
So now that insurance has this whole millennial thing figured out, let’s throw a wrench into everything.
We all know who “they” are. They, of course, are GENERATION Z….and if you thought millennials were different, well, they would just say “hold my beer.” Gen Z started in the year 1996. This group is just so wild that it’s hard not to wonder whether Y2K took them over when they were in utero. Gen Z is the most studied and surveyed generation we’ve ever had and the one thing that is talked more and more is that this is a generation does not give a flying flip on how it was done before..
Don’t believe me? Gen Z uses weird words like “YEET” and created cancel culture. If you don’t know what cancel culture is, it’s where a movement of people reject an individual or idea. What has Gen Z cancelled? The laughing crying face emoji. They said it was too overused and as over 2020 they deemed it DEAD. Gone! You can’t use it no more. Curious what you use instead? The skull emoji with the crying emoji –you’re dead from laughing or dead and crying from laughing so hard? Still taking selfies from up top to better hide your COVID double chin like yours truly? IT’S DEAD. If you’re on Tik Tok there is video after video dedicated to jokes that you can tell the difference between an old millennial and a Gen Z by the way they take a selfie.
So, here we are back to the age-old question that was asked not so very long ago. How do we attract the next generation? You see the thing about Gen Z is the same as it was for millennials. If we want to attract the next best talent from the next generation, we must be the best for them to gravitate toward. That starts now.
So, what do we do to reach them? Definitely, whatever you do, don’t get a Tik Tok and learn all the Tik Tok dances–or maybe do and let us watch. What I am saying is that we have to know what they want and then evolve in order to create an environment for them to be successful. So, what can we do?
Figuring out where to start could mean a lot of things. We could go on and on that an agency needs to be tech savvy in this digital age for a group of individuals that have never had to use a payphone to call their parents to come pick them up from the movies. We could talk about the culture of an organization and how it’s crucial that you have one when it comes to employing a generation that is civic and community oriented and wants to be a part of the change happening everywhere. I don’t even need to mention that this generation grew up in the middle of an economic recession which caused them to be incredibly pragmatic and that would be an INCREDIBLE FIT for an industry built on long term success and financial stability. None of these matter if they can’t hear through the negative.
Something to consider is that Gen Z is incredibly distrustful of companies and desire authenticity above any other group. In a survey with Salesforce, 66% of Gen Z said they are distrustful of companies and how their personal information is being used and wanted transparency. So where does that leave our industry? Well, to be honest, we’ve got a minor problem, as insurance doesn’t have the best public image and has an incredibly complicated product that quirky TV commercials have minimalized to over-the-top characters (i.e., Jake from State Farm, Flo at Progressive, Allstate’s Mayhem). The regular person does not understand the industry much less encourage their children, friends, or family to go into it. So, what do we do?
The answer is easy. Change the conversation. Instead of focusing on the negatives of the incoming generation and watching them walk in center stage, set up to fail, what would happen if we creative a narrative using their talents to show them a space they can inhabit and excel in? Not only that, what would change if we changed the conversation around our industry? So, picture with me you’re talking with someone and they tell you about a movie they just watched. We all know based on the energy and excitement a person either has or lacks when describing the movie determines whether you will immediately go see it or not.
Our jobs, this industry, is the exact same way. Insurance has done an incredibly bad job of selling how great it is to work within its space. We have a saying in our agency that every time anyone asks you what you do for a living it is a chance to sell. A chance to sell insurance, to sell a new employee, or sell your industry to someone else. People can see the emotion and will either be drawn to it or not.
So how will you change the conversation? It may be as simple as your answer when someone asks what you do, or amping up your team to help them see how empowering our professions are. The best part all of this is that we have time. Gen Z is just starting to enter the work force. There is still world enough and time that we can create the narrative that can draw the best and brightest of this incoming group.
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