I was driving to work after celebrating a birthday milestone, reflecting on my life and career. Both are filled with many accomplishments and also some failures, which I fondly refer to as my “learning opportunities.”
It was a beautiful spring morning. I remember the day vividly, with the sun shining and flowers blooming, something we do not see much of in northeast Ohio for most of the year. As I pulled my car into the parking lot and turned off the ignition, I paused, took a sip of my Starbuck’s coffee and asked myself: Who will replace us when we are gone? A pretty deep question for a Monday morning, but an inevitable part of life, both personally and professionally.
Generation X is the workforce born 1965 to 1980. Their characteristics include being independent, creative, and willing to challenge the status quo. This generation experienced the fall of the Berlin Wall, the AIDS epidemic, and the Challenger space shuttle disaster. Being a product of this generation, I can recall the exact moment when I heard about the Challenger disaster. I watched it on the news, glued to a wooden chair in my university’s student union. It was a day I will always remember. (Yes Millennials, the television was in color, but did not have a remote control.)
The second characteristic is a need for recognition. More than any other generation before them, the Millennials crave recognition for their efforts. They grew up in an environment where everyone receives a gold star for showing up to class or a medal for being on the soccer team, win or lose. What does this mean for claims management? For anyone coaching Millennials, it means providing more frequent feedback, especially praise on a regular basis. It also means providing more robust performance management, development plans and mentoring programs.
The third trait is a desire to have the latest technology. To understand the strong connection this generation has to technology, consider this: According to the Pew Research Center, 75 percent of all Millennials have a profile on a social networking site and 83% sleep with their cell phone. The insurance industry, which largely depends on legacy systems, is challenged to invest in the latest and greatest technology. I believe it will be important for our industry to improve our claims technology if we want to attract and retain the best talent this generation has to offer. We need to adopt more advanced claims management systems, integrated estimating software programs, web conferencing capabilities and mature claims processes that optimize both customer and employee satisfaction.