What we're reading this week: Highlights from the Millennials in Insurance Conference; Butler University gives students hands-on underwriting experience; Retention of temporary and contract employees is crucial in the new gig economy; The evolution of workplace communication has pros and cons.

Here are the top news stories in talent & organization from this week.

Filling the talent gap in insurance

Last week, Insurance Business America’s one-day Millennials in Insurance Conference, held in New York, brought together industry experts to discuss how to attract and retain new employees. Maria Sassian shares her insights from the event in a post for The Triple-I Blog. “It’s a myth that young people want to job-hop every few years,” she writes, adding that millennials’ top expectations from employers include stability, flexibility, culture and autonomy. Sassian lists some of the advice from the panelists at the event on recruitment: Make use of GlassDoor and LinkedIn; focus on transparency; engage students at the high school level. “Have a ‘swagger’ to show that the industry is cool and cutting edge,” she writes. As for retaining young talent in insurance, here are some of Sassian’s highlights from the panelists: Look at employees as a long-term investment by providing mentoring and job-sharing opportunities; consider non-compensation benefits; promote from within. “Millennials like lots of feedback, so keep the communication lines open,” she writes.

Butler University pilots student-run insurance company

Students in Butler University’s Davey Risk Management and Insurance Program are underwriting Steinway pianos, rare books in the library, as well as the school’s mascot bulldog, according to an article in The New York Times. The student-run captive insurance company is the brainchild of Zach Finn, a clinical professor and the program’s director, and Michael M. Bill, co-founder of Indianapolis-based MJ Insurance, who funded the minimum capital for the company. “To the students, learning by doing through an on-campus insurance entity makes sense,” the article notes. Josh Toly, a Butler senior and the student company’s vice president for property underwriting told The Times: “We go here. We know the ins and outs of the buildings better than a standard insurance company would.”

Retention in the gig economy

According to the American Staffing Association, US staffing companies hire more than 15 million temporary and contract employees annually. Gig economy workers make up 15 percent of Canada’s workforce and 6 percent of the UK workforce. This WilsonHCG blog post explains why temporary and contract workers voluntarily leave and how to overcome these challenges. The first challenge is diminishing trust in leadership. “Leadership sets the example for your workforce to follow,” the blog notes. “Leaders are drivers of trust, diversity and inclusion, culture and the employment brand.” The second reason why gig workers leave is a “rigid, corporate working environment.” According to the article, today’s professionals, especially temporary workers who frequently operate virtually or in non-traditional settings/schedules, are looking for more diverse and flexible, and less rigid, working environments. Compensation and career stagnation is the third challenge when it comes to retaining gig workers. “Like the permanent workforce, gig economy professionals are also seeking to advance their careers – whether by gaining another contract (with better pay), building their resume and network, or skill-set increases,” the blog notes.

The evolution of workplace communication

Advancements in mobile technology have made it easier to rely on virtual teams, agile talent and remote offices spread out across the globe. In this Business2Community blog post, Paul Keijzer points out the pros and cons of instant communication in today’s workplace. On the up side, he claims the leap in technology has created a boost in efficiency and cross-functional engagement. “What’s simultaneously happening thanks to flexibility and enhanced communications is that people are able to balance their personal lives into their work schedule.” He adds that “flexibility is the new norm.” On the down side, he reminds the business community of the importance of mindfulness and etiquette when it comes to using swift communication tools. “There’s the pressure of responding immediately (after all, that’s the best use of these communication tools, isn’t it?). And in that, you’re just blurting out messages that pop into your mind. This increases your likelihood of responding emotionally and without thinking things through. Sometimes you may get into trouble for it as well.” In order to improve workplace communication, Keijzer recommends engagement activities, and setting clear communication boundaries and parameters that allow for personal time.

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