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Job fitness.

Recently, I've been seeing the same clip of Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last, talking about millennials in the workplace. The clip is from an Inside Quest episode and keeps popping up on LinkedIn and Facebook, so it's getting a lot of views. Insurance leaders would do well to watch sometime, as Sinek offers insights that are especially timely as companies seek new talent to replace retiring baby boomers.

Sinek says millennials have a reputation for being lazy, narcissistic, unfocused, and of course, entitled. We've all heard this before. What was new--to me, anyway--was Sinek's view that the stereotype is based on behaviors driven by four factors: parenting, technology, impatience and environment.

Remember those infamous participation trophies we always hear about? Sinek says they are just one example of failed parenting tactics. The constant access to our phones and the filters of Instagram and Facebook amplify our sense of self-worth, as these technologies and our constant use of them have taught millennials to present ourselves as though we have it all figured out. This allows us to keep our social media profiles as exciting as possible, while spilling over into perceived confidence when sharing input at work. Our on-demand lifestyles and learned belief that we can have anything we want has led to impatience in the workplace. Finally, he says, workplace environments are different than those in which millennials grew up. Older adults--like our parents--don't have the influence millennials have had in other environments, technology often lags behind what millennials are used to, and workplaces generally move slower than we're used to.

In the video, Sinek says a corporation looking for employees must expect the new generation of workers to come with these characteristics and past experiences. Corporations cannot control the first three factors; they can only control the environment of their workplace, he says. Millennials respond positively to feedback, mentoring and coaching, and workplaces ought to take advantage of this. Corporations must train these employees to see not just the end goal of impact that they're searching for, but the mountain one must climb to make that impact. A corporation must teach its new employees the skills to fit into the culture and form the relationships that are necessary for the success of that corporation.

If we look at job postings today, we often expect employees to come to us prepared for a work environment that hasn't changed in the past 50 years. We expect new employees to easily assimilate to structures that are in place. However, new employees are often coming to us straight from college. Some of these employees may have had part-time jobs or earned money babysitting or pet-sitting throughout their college careers. Most of their "work" environments have been casual. They probably grew up with parents who involved them in their decisions, and in their college classrooms, they were likely encouraged to question authority. Assimilating to an office environment can therefore require some coaching.

To me, the most important takeaway from Sinek's comments is that we should be prepared to train employees in the behaviors that will lead to job satisfaction and deep relationships.

In the past, many employees came to their first jobs with only a high school diploma. Corporations expected to train their new employees, and they expected their employees to stay with their company for their entire career. While the new normal cannot allow us to believe employees will stay with one company until retirement, we must train new employees not only in technical matters but also in the soft skills they will need to be successful.

The insurance industry already embraces training. That is an important benefit we must be more vocal about--especially to millennials.

Carly Burnham, CPCU, MBA, has been in the insurance industry since 2004. She blogs at and can be reached at
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Title Annotation:Next Wave; Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last book by author Simon Sinek
Author:Burnham, Carly
Publication:Best's Review
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 1, 2017
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