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

How to reward millennials in insurance

For insurers looking to attract and retain young employees, recognizing and rewarding millennials is key according to Kelly Lackner, head of global management at XL Caitlin. “Millennials crave learning and training opportunities, particularly in leadership development. To bridge this gap, consider incorporating a mentorship program,” Lackner said at the Millennials in Insurance conference in New York. Besides mentorship, millennials also crave innovation and are interested in data and analytics. “Data is well beyond a buzzword for millennials,” she said. “Many of the country’s top actuarial, insurance and risk programs are now strongly recommending minor coursework for mathematics, insurance and actuarial majors in data science.” Among the other top priorities of millennials are diversity and inclusion; flexible work arrangements; regular touchpoints; effective coaching and feedback; and pay for performance.

How banks can close the digital skills gap

Finding qualified IT professionals is an uphill battle for banks, writes Meg Conlan in this BizTech blog. She cites a Peak 10 study, which found half of banking institutions have a difficult or a very difficult time filling positions in data analytics, user experience design, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and other areas. Conlan outlines three steps banks can take to overcome hiring challenges. 1. Outsource IT tasks, especially cybersecurity: “By handing off the monitoring and management of security technologies, in-house IT teams can spend less time putting out security “fires” and instead focus on projects that further core objectives and promote innovation,” she writes. 2. Be open to workers with alternative IT training: Conlan points out how traditional degree programs are no longer the only path to a career in IT. Alternative education programs, such as coding boot camps, provide immersive training over a shorter period of time. 3. Develop tech talent from within: “Promote and train existing workers to build an in-house team that can keep pace with fast-paced technology changes,” she suggests.

What the insurance industry will look like in 2050

“I think the industry will be absolutely, radically different. It’s not even going to look remotely similar to what it looks like today,” said Kelly MacDonald, senior vice president and team leader at Aon Risk Solutions, in an interview with Insurance Business Canada. MacDonald, who will be among the speakers at the inaugural Women in Insurance event to be held in May in Toronto, sees a push for gender balance and a more diverse workforce in the next three decades. “When you look at race, you realize that the insurance industry is mostly white people. So there’s not a lot of diversity there,” she said. “We need to make sure that insurance feels like an industry in which their input is valued and their expertise has a place.” When it comes to gender balance in insurance, MacDonald believes there’s a lot of room for improvement. “I’d say that brokerages have done a better job with gender diversity, and some of the smaller boutique firms have been good at supporting women,” she said. “There are some phenomenal women leading small boutique firms that are achieving great things. But, I still think there’s a lot of work to be done to level up female executives. We’re still lagging behind and not seeing that 50/50 number.”

How to manage virtual teams successfully

In this Inc. blog post, Melissa Lamson talks about the challenges of managing people in multiple locations and time zones, and how to rally and connect such dispersed teams. “As the leader, it’s your job to provide the context for the team. In addition to sharing the project specifications and requirements, you need to paint the big picture for them and bring the importance of their roles to the forefront,” she writes, making a case for a shared vision. Lamson also underscores the importance of communication. “Make a point of intentionally connecting with the people on your team three times as often as you do with the people you see spontaneously in the office,” she writes. “This effort will pay off for you in increased engagement and strong connections with each of your team members.” Lastly, she encourages leaders to build community and trust. “We all work better when we feel like we are part of something larger. Develop a strategy to pull each of the team members into the group and then cement that feeling of community by acknowledging the team’s efforts and celebrating its successes,” she notes.

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