September 18, 2019 by Adam Malik
Young insurance professionals want their older managers to wrap their heads around a few concepts when it comes to working with young people: flexible work environments, mentoring and being open-minded.
Those were the suggestions from the “Four Under Forty” panel at the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) Canada Conference in Edmonton recently. While many sessions like this one may include an opportunity to give advice to younger pros, moderator Lance J. Ewing flipped the script and asked his four speakers under the age of 40 what advice they would give their older bosses.
Allowing for a flexible work environment was a big one.
“Work doesn’t need to get done, in my opinion, from 9-5. Everybody has individual circumstances and interests that might need them in the middle of the day,” said Jacob Snell with Chubb. “I think this generation is highly creative and is very aware of how quickly things are changing. It’s absolutely necessary.”
Julia Hewitt, a risk manager with natural gas company Encana, agreed, saying her view shifted after starting a family.
“I genuinely love insurance, but for me, [starting a family] shifted my perspective into work is something I do; it’s not somewhere I go. That’s a really big thing. I’m on the road right now and I can work remotely in my hotel room or poolside,” she said. “I think it’s about having that flexibility. If I need to go home because I’ve got a sick kid or something, I have to be trusted, I think, to make sure I’m getting my job done.”
Ewing wondered how a conversation with her boss would go if she asked for flexibility. Hewitt called it a chance to help educate the older generation about what work is today.
“The thought of people working from home, they sometimes struggle with that because it’s a trust issue where they go, ‘No, you have to come and sit at your desk and be here and that’s working.’ But we all know that’s not necessarily the most productive thing,” she said. “I’ll grab my laptop and go sit in a coffee shop or down in one of our sky gardens and just work to get a bit of a break from my office. I think it’s a little bit of training, to be honest, you have to keep proving yourself time and time again.”
May Ng, with claims management service ESIS Canada, explored the importance of mentorship. The workforce is changing, more young people are coming in and it’s important to show them the ropes.
“Yes, you’re managing them, but people I work with, they always say, ‘OK, well, this is me telling you from a management perspective, but from a friend perspective, this is also what I’m telling you,’” she said. “To be able to help people through certain decision making and obstacles that they face, I think people who have been through that need to speak up more and look out for the younger group.”
Marsh’s Mitchell Taylor would like older bosses to be more open-minded. He’s found that a lot of people in the industry tend to think alike and ward off new ideas.
“I find that as people age, they kind of lose the spark or the outside-the-box-thinking. I think it’s up to the older generation to ensure that those new ideas keep flowing continuously,” he said.