5 Things Millennials Want in the Workplace: Takeaways from Tony Cañas

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Tony Cañas is working to help the insurance industry understand how to engage millennials, the group who will soon make up more than 50 percent of the workforce. Cañas is a speaker, blogger, and co-founder of Insurance Nerds.

Since he started his career in 2009, he has been fully emerged in a variety of insurance careers. He has worked in claims, underwriting, finance and sales management; at four carriers, and in six cities and five states.

Recently, Tony visited with Ohio Insurance Institute members and spoke about his findings from the book he co-wrote, Insuring Tomorrow: Engaging Millennials in the Insurance Industry.

Tony is passionate about insurance and technology. But more importantly, he is passionate about helping the insurance industry figure out how to retain and engage the younger generation and bridge the anticipated employment gap.

The future of the insurance industry is dependent on meeting younger generations’ preferences in the workplace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, research has found that only 4 percent of millennials are interested in a career in insurance. This is particularly because of the sometimes negative reputation of the industry as a whole and the limited knowledge of career opportunities among high school and college students. Understanding what millennials want in the workplace is the first step to engaging and retaining tomorrow’s industry leaders.  

Challenging Work

Millennials want to be challenged at work. They want to be able to challenge their minds and learn new things. Generational Talent Managers for Insurers, as cited in Tony’s book, says that millennials will stay in a job if they are shown that they are cared about through being continually pushed to learn more and develop professionally.

Room to Grow in their Career

Millennials want careers that will allow them to grow. Unlike prior generations, they are not content with being in the same role for a long period of time. After a year or so, they want to be promoted or take on a new role. They are not satisfied clocking in and clocking out, they want to know that they are doing an exceptional job and they want to be recognized for going above and beyond.

To Make a Positive Impact

Millennials are a mission driven generation. They want to be able to make an impact in their communities. They want to know that the work they are doing is improving the world around them. Unlike parents of other generations, who told their kids to “go get a job”, parents of millennials told their kids to “go find a job that makes you happy.” This mentality has made a big impact on this generation seeking purpose in their work.

Nationwide has implemented a program to help employees make an impact. Through their program, Community Connect, associates can find volunteer opportunities, register for shifts, and log their volunteer hours. Nationwide rewards their efforts with paid time off and the chance to be named Volunteer of the Year.

Flexible Work Schedules

Millennials desire work-life balance, including flexible schedules and work from home opportunities. A study from Gallup’s State of the American Workforce found that an astounding 96 percent of all employees, not just millennials, said that flexible working is important to them. Gallup’s study also revealed that “The optimal engagement boost occurs when employees spend 60 percent to 80 percent of their time working off site.” Working out of the office at least part of the week is what employees, including millennials, are beginning to expect in the workplace.

Student Loan Aid as a Benefit

Millennials are overwhelmed by student loan debt. Tony spoke about the fact that public school college tuition rates have increased to more than five to seven times since 1985. This increase has made it nearly impossible to make it out of college and into the workforce without massive amounts of debt.

Well known insurance companies like Travelers is among the trailblazers in this student loan aid initiative. With the Travelers Paying It Forward Savings Program payments toward student loans will qualify for the company’s 401(k) Plan matching program. This will help employees pay down student loan debt and begin building healthy savings for retirement. Initiatives like this could spark a trend helping the insurance industry get the talent they need, and the debt-burdened employees some aid to start paying off student loan debt.

As more research surfaces, insurance companies are starting to take notice, and make changes to meet the needs of the soon to be millennial driven workplace of tomorrow.


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