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Risk Insider: Jon Hall

Risk Management and Millennials

By: | February 27, 2018 • 4 min read
Jonathan W. Hall is chief operating officer at FM Global. He oversees FM Global’s insurance operations and insurance staff functions, as well as the FM Global Resilience Index, a data driven resource that ranks the business resilience of 130 countries and regions. He can be reached at [email protected]

Are you afraid to hire millennials? Do you fear if you do, after all the time and investment your company puts into them, they will just get up and leave your organization in two or three years’ time?

Nothing could be farther from the truth, and that kind of thinking can leave your organization at a competitive disadvantage. As the last of the millennial generation begins to enter the workforce, and the first of that group approach their 40s, it is clearer than ever risk management offers millennials everything they are looking for in a career to make them want to stay for the long-term — growth, challenges and cutting-edge technology.

That’s important because in the United States, 10,000 people will turn 65 every day between now and 2030, according to the U.S. census bureau. While many of those folks will still be working after age 65, it’s no secret that the brain drain on the risk management and insurance industries will be in the hundreds of thousands of people over the next several years.

The Millennial Generation is where we will find the human talent to fill those gaps and position risk management for growth in the future.

In fact, the steps we should be taking to attract millennials are the very same things that set any good business apart from its competition — investing in people, our most valuable asset. It’s been my experience that loyalty is a two-way street; when companies invest in people, people invest in companies.

According to a survey of 1,100 U.S.-based millennials working for FM Global and four other large companies, the most significant factors in employer selection criteria for millennials are career growth, salary, benefits, job security, work-life balance, skill development and interesting work. Importantly, 60 percent of people in the study said they preferred to stay with their current employer, while only 25 percent thought changing employers was the best way to advance their careers. That’s great news!

Today, risk management is not about simply identifying ways to transfer risk; it is about creating a holistic approach to business resilience and maintaining a competitive advantage. But in order to educate millennials about all of the opportunities in risk management, we have to tell our stories.

So what can we do to attract and retain millennials (and others for that matter)?

At FM Global, we heavily invest in enterprise learning programs designed to provide our employees with the skills and knowledge they need now and in the future to continually grow their careers.

For example, we have recently revamped our risk management engineering training program to leverage our newly built 40,000 square foot FM Global Learning Center outside of Boston, Mass. Here students (whether they are employees or risk management clients) receive instruction in specially designed “active learning” classrooms using the latest technology that foster creativity and critical thinking. Each classroom is equipped with surface computing (huge touch screens with built-in intelligence) and interactive whiteboards. There also are smartboards, mounted LCD projectors and video cameras.

In these collaborative classrooms, students work in groups using technology that helps them discover new skills. Facilitators interact with students and encourage critical thinking by discovering new methods and concepts that can be applied to their jobs. This type of learning keeps them excited and engaged.

This program has streamlined our engineering training program from 18 months to just 12 months!

There has been much written that millennials, as a generation, are quick to move from job to job and have no loyalty. The research says differently. In fact, overall, millennials who are happier with their jobs are more likely to be satisfied with their careers and lives and in turn will work harder and stay with their current employer.

The key is they need to be challenged and have the opportunity to do different things. In my own career, I’ve had multiple jobs — starting as an account underwriter, working my way up to senior vice president of underwriting and reinsurance before being named an executive vice president and then chief operating officer.

The great thing is, I have had the opportunity to change jobs all while working for the same company for more than 30 years. When there are opportunities for an employee to grow in their career, and companies are willing to promote from within, your employees will stay with you.

Finally, risk management is an exciting field with multiple opportunities for challenging work and career growth. Today, risk management is not about simply identifying ways to transfer risk; it is about creating a holistic approach to business resilience and maintaining a competitive advantage.

But in order to educate millennials about all of the opportunities in risk management, we have to tell our stories.

At FM Global, we don’t just go to college campuses to recruit student talent — although that is an important part. Telling our stories means senior executives sitting down with employees at all levels — whether Generation X, millennials or the soon-to-enter-the-workforce Generation Z — and engaging in active conversations. It means listening to your people and understanding their wants and needs and actively working to ensure your company reflects the people who work for it.

The secret to success is simple: Invest in your most important asset — your people.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Black Swans

Black Swans: Yes, It Can Happen Here

In this year's Black Swan coverage, we focus on two events: An Atlantic mega-tsunami which would wipe out the East Coast and a killer global pandemic.
By: | July 30, 2018 • 2 min read

One of the most difficult phrases to digest without becoming frustrated or judgmental is the oft-repeated, “I never thought that could happen here.”

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Most painfully, we hear it time and time again in the aftermath of the mass school shootings that terrorize this country. Shocked parents and neighbors, viewing the carnage, voice that they can’t believe this happened in their neighborhood.

Not to be mean, but why couldn’t it happen in your neighborhood?

So it is with Black Swans, a phrase describing unforeseen events, made famous by the former trader and acerbic critic of academia Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

We at Risk & Insurance® define these events in insurance terms by saying that they are highly infrequent, yet could cause massive damages. This year, for our annual Black Swan issue, we present two very different scenarios, both of which would leave mass devastation in their wake.

A Mega-Tsunami Is Coming; Can the East Coast Even Prepare?, written by staff writer Autumn Heisler, profiles an Atlantic mega-tsunami, which would wipe out lives and commerce along the East Coast.

On the topic of whether the volcanic island of La Palma, the most northwestern of the Canary Islands, could erupt, split and trigger an Atlantic mega-tsunami, scientists are divided.

Researchers Steven Ward, a geophysicist at UC Santa Cruz, and Simon Day of University College London, say such a thing could happen. Other scientists say Day and Ward are dead wrong; it’s an impossibility.

One of the counter-arguments is backed up by the statement that there has never been an Atlantic mega-tsunami. It’s never happened before and thus, could never happen here. See exhibit “A” above, re: mass school shootings.

Viral Fear: How a Global Pandemic Kills an Economy, written by associate editor Katie Dwyer, depicts a killer global pandemic the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a century.

Tens of millions of people died during the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918.

Why it could happen again includes the fact that it’s happened before. The science on influenzas, which are constantly mutating, also supports just how dangerous a threat they pose to millions of people beyond the reach of antibiotics.

Should a mutating avian flu, for example, spread widely, we could see a 10 percent drop in GDP, mostly from non-physical business interruption.

As always here, the purpose is to do exactly what insurance modelers and underwriters do; no matter how massive the event, we create scenarios, quantify possible losses and discuss risk mitigation strategies. &

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]