Generation Y will change insurers' business models | KPMG | BE

Generation Y will change insurers' business models

Generation Y will change insurers' business models

Justin Balcombe discusses the key considerations in persuading Generation Y to get on board.


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To succeed in the future insurers must have the next generation of workers on board. That much talked about ‘Generation Y’ or the Millennials, are currently aged between 18 and 34 and will make up about 40% of the working population by 2020.

Big data and analytics will help insurers define the demands of the future workforce with ‘Gen Y’ being the first group to experience and benefit from an increased level of understanding.

What’s in it for me?

KPMG’s report, Transforming Insurance: Securing Competitive Advantage  says: "Insurers and intermediaries must also transform their human capital and recruit and engage employees with the right skills and experience… deeply ingrained company cultures may need to be changed to create an environment of innovation and collaboration."

Culture and behaviours need to change, and employees need to be engaged and excited about that change. But in order for them to achieve that they need a clear understanding of "what’s in it for me"?

Key to understanding

That question encapsulates this generation. Millennials place great emphasis on ethics and a good working culture, and yet have a sense of entitlement that demands rapid career progression, instant change and open communication. If they don’t achieve these, they will leave. A Gen Y employee who has been in a job for more than two years is a rarity.

Lynda Gratton, professor of management practice at the London Business School and author of The Shift, highlights three paradoxes of Gen Y at work:

  • Short-term focus but very committed
  • Tech savvy but value face-to-face
  • Require recognition but not necessarily trophies

"Whether in the virtual or real world, perhaps the key to understanding this generation and knowing how to engage them is to simply listen to them,” Gratton wrote on her blog.

But, there are other generations to consider too. Understanding how they interact with Gen Y will be key. Our Investing in the future report  says, by 2030, employers are likely have four or five generations of employees in work, from Gen X (1970-82), the bulk made up of of Gen Y (1982-2004) and Digital Natives (Z) and Google Kids (Alpha). There may even be some Baby Boomers left in the workplace, as more of them look to put off retirement, through choice or necessity. As the report says: "While there are considerable upsides to having such a breadth of experience in the workforce, each generation is likely to have very different expectations."

The report highlights an intensifying war for talent as the numbers in employment shrink as a proportion of the population. Employers will need to consider working patterns. Only then, will they be able to answer employees’ question, "What’s in it for me"?

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