Young risk management professionals are heading directly into the risk and insurance industry in larger numbers than ever before, bolstered by increased awareness of the opportunities available, through recruiting, networking and collegiate organizations.
These young professionals are hungry for opportunity and, specifically, are excited about the stability and chances for growth that surround risk management careers.
However, these young professionals envision their career trajectories a bit differently than the risk and insurance professionals of prior generations.
Once these emerging professionals reach the industry, they want to experience multiple roles and verticals to build an extensive knowledge base. More than that, they are intentional in their career choices as well as their career paths, and they value meaningful experiences, mentoring and continued education opportunities.
There are many factors at play, including a desire for new experiences, a focus on work-life balance in the wake of some of the more defining events and trends of the last 20 years, and an adaptable nature that allows and even encourages them to explore numerous career paths.
What the Next Wave of Risk Professionals Wants
Ongoing engagement with millennials and Gen Z has afforded my company, Gamma Iota Sigma, a deeper understanding of what this next generation is looking for in a career. We’ve compiled a “wish list” outlining what the next wave of risk professionals is seeking in a risk management career.
According to a LinkedIn study from 2023, 87% of millennial professionals rated personal development and career growth as essential to their work. While they may not receive the same incentives as highly-experienced and tenured workers, the craving for approval of good work and the incentive to keep performing it is worth paying attention to.
Meaningful Internships: Internships are often the starting point for many pursuing risk management. Not surprisingly, students view them as opportunities to secure full-time employment, and this is a top consideration when they are exploring companies.
What may be surprising, however, is how many pursue an internship for its meaningful work assignments — almost half (49%), according to Gamma Iota Sigma’s annual recruiting survey. That same survey showed more than half of students (53%) who had a risk management internship were more likely to consider a career at that same employer.
As such, any potential internship should focus on in-depth learning and hands on-experience for interns in lieu of menial tasks that do not teach and advance their understanding of the role, the organization or the industry at large.
Insightful Mentoring and Coaching: Our survey also showed that 70% of students viewed mentorship as moderately to extremely important to them as professionals. Just as many students and survey participants had a mentor (71%). What this looks like will vary from professional to professional, but the appetite to learn, grow and develop runs deep in young professionals. Hands-on coaching and guidance on a new career trajectory can make all the difference.
Opportunities for Continuing Education and Credentialing: Across all industries, employers are pushing for more learning and skill development to stay competitive — and young professionals are aware of how quickly the workforce and workplace are changing. They are actively seeking out opportunities for continuing education.
Opportunities could be as simple as technology system or customer management tool credentialing or training or could be more advanced like opportunities to achieve a higher degree with tuition assistance.
Flexibility: The assumption with Gen Z and millennial workers is that they predominantly want remote work. This is partially true — as digital nomads, they crave flexibility, balance in their professional lives and the ability to live anywhere.
Yet, they also deeply crave in-person connections and networking opportunities. They understand how networking can help them connect with potential mentors and build their professional reputation.
According to our annual survey, more than 83% of young professionals prefer face-to-face engagements when it comes to connecting with recruiters. The same survey data showed that most prefer hybrid-style work environments, meaning in-person office work mixed with work-from-home arrangements.
Their Talent for Your Time and Treasure
It’s true, smart investments yield smart returns.
It’s my firm belief, both through what I have seen and from what new risk and insurance professionals have told me, that companies that mentor, instruct, coach and invest in their young talent will reap the rewards of a highly diversified, skilled and educated workforce. This will require patience and innovation in equal measure.
With a growing number of young insurance and risk management professionals in the next decade looking to join the workforce, opportunity abounds for companies that are intentional about providing the robust experiences with variety and purpose that young professionals are seeking.
To stay competitive, employers will need to give them the work environment they crave and the chance to learn. This will help not only the young professionals to succeed, but will likely benefit company profits as well.
Grace Grant, Executive Director for Gamma Iota Sigma, has more than 15 years of experience in the financial services industry, including 10 years of insurance industry non-profit leadership. She joined Gamma Iota Sigma in 2013, and championed a significant expansion of the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy through the establishment of the Gamma Iota Sigma Foundation.
The original article appeared on Risk & Insurance, July 20, 2023.