One of the most significant issues we hear about when talking with Aite-Novarica Group Insurance Technology Research Council members relates to talent. Attracting and retaining critical skills is increasingly challenging; the Great Resignation is mixing mid-career changes for millennials and Gen Xers with early retirements for many baby boomers, leading to both skill gaps and a loss of institutional memory.
Anyone waiting for a return to the “normal” of 2019 will continue to be disappointed. We simply aren’t going back. One CIO I spoke with recently noted that 3% of his IT staff are eligible for retirement now. Next year 7% will be. The year after that? 40%!
Recently, along with my colleagues John Keddy and Jack Krantz, I had the opportunity to host our Silicon Valley Innovation Experience. These issues were on the mind of everyone we talked to: insuretech startups, VCs, PEs, and large innovation firms.
During our Silicon Valley visit, Chris Yeh spoke about the changes he and Reid Hoffman, the co-author of Blitzscaling, have seen in the workforce. The core of today’s labor market is made up of millennials and younger Gen Xers who see careers as “tours of duty” lasting 3-5 years rather than lifetime engagements that last 30-40 years. That’s a huge shift for companies that think they have extended periods of time available for training.
As I told an insurer IT leader who recently shared that it takes seven years to properly train someone on critical technology areas, unless carriers are intentionally trying to dumb themselves down, they need to rethink how they manage human capital.
Beyond that, one of the great lessons from organizations like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Salesforce, LinkedIn, and Plug and Play Tech Center is that some of the best resources for companies can be boomerang employees: people who made great contributions, left to seek continued growth and development, and then returned to a company.
Understanding what attracts people to an organization, accepting when they choose to depart, and being open to the possibility of a return engagement are all critical components of working with this specific talent cohort. When we visited AWS, our host—who walked us through the concept of innovation at Amazon, focused on performance dynamics, and highlighted key elements of the culture they are looking to preserve—was, himself, a boomerang employee.
He came back to AWS with a different perspective, new skills, and an enhanced commitment to getting things done the right way. Just hours earlier, we had heard about the importance of embracing boomerang employees at Salesforce. Walking the walk is critical to building high-performing, resilient organizations.
Looking forward to the back half of 2022, there’s no time like the present to get ready for a future that is already here. Visit our Silicon Valley Innovation Experience page to learn more about our next trip to this forward-looking region.