Insurance CIOs: Prepare for high-maintenance youngsters

A survey conducted by KRC Research of has found most of the twentysomething respondents who are looking for an insurance job will first ask what software and gizmos a prospective employer has.

The survey, dubbed “Millennials in Insurance Survey 2008,” asked young people what they expect from their employers. More than three in four said they wanted their employer to provide PCs, 48 per cent wanted mobile phones or smart phones, half want internal instant messaging and 42 per cent wanted virtual meetings.

The term millennial refers to people born between 1981 and 2001, and if the survey sample is any indication of the population as a whole, a significant minority of these youngsters (40 per cent) want access to social networking sites.

The survey was conducted on behalf of Microsoft Corp. and Hartford, Conn.-based Insurity, which makes software for insurance companies.

In April, KRC surveyed 704 people between the ages of 18 and 27, 201 of whom were Canadian, said Bill Hartnett, Microsoft’s director of US insurance industry solutions. The survey is considered accurate to within two percentage points, he added.

“A significant percentage said the insurance industry is not innovative,” Hartnett said. “When you ask about technology specifically 91 per cent of the survey respondents said technology would be a key determinant of where they went to work.”

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A big difference between the Canadian and American respondents is that more young people from the Great White North want social networking at work.

Organizations like the Province of Ontario (which banned employees from using Facebook last year) who block social networking sites from their networks are short-sighted, said Kevin Restivo a senior research analyst for software at IDC Canada.

“If you’re faced with a glut of baby boomers set to retire like the province is or the whole Western world is, and you want to recruit younger talent, simply banning sites like that not only shows a lack of trust in your employees but it may not be the best way to potentially attract young people,” Restivo said. “You’re resisting change or resisting tools that new employees may want to use.”

But Restivo added limiting the use of networking sites during working hours makes sense.

The Millenials in Insurance survey also queried youth on their desire to work from home, and 77 per cent of respondents saying they would be more likely to consider a position with a firm offering telecommuting.

Companies from all industries, not just insurance, might want to consider letting workers telecommute, Restivo said.

“Flexibility of work location is increasingly imperative in a knowledge-based economy,” he said. “If you’re looking at attracting the best and brightest, people who you feel can contribute to your workplace in a positive manner, you increasingly want to have the infrastructure, wireless or otherwise, to accommodate their needs.”

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