The urgent need to attract and retain young talent

Innovation Project Summary Cookhouse LabS

The urgent need to attract and retain young talent

Millennials are not interested in a career in insurance… so how do we #BridgeTheGap and make insurance more attractive to this generation?










Understand why Millennials have such a negative perception of the insurance industry and what we as an industry have to start doing to become appealing to young talent.


Understanding millennials’ concerns about work in the insurance industry






Exploring the thoughts and emotions of young people when it came to job search methods, desired benefits, and office culture expectations.

We are not doing enough to invest in attracting and retaining young talent.

The focus of our sprint became: How might we create a culture of collaboration and inclusiveness that fosters security and growth that will help attract, retain and make young talent feel valued.


Our team ideated 59 different ways to #BridgeTheGap in 5 minutes and voted on a single idea to develop and test.

During the 5 sessions the team discovered these items as main key points and what, young talent named as the priorities when looking for a job.


The solution is based on a 5-month program designed to attract and retain young talent by engaging the young hires from day one and inviting them to work with other departments in the organization. Students will be recruited from non-traditional programs of study as well, including Arts and Geography, and will be paired with Mentors through a matching process. Young talent will select 5 areas of interest to rotate through during the program. At the end, the employees will provide feedback on the department that they are most interested in working at.

The employees’ experience will be overseen by a dedicated Advisor (guidance counselor) who will meet regularly with the young talent. The program will work to retain young hires beyond the average 2-year job stay.


The project team consulted HR Masterminds, interviewed young professionals and students, and analyzed surveys to understand the different perspectives.


Empathy Map


Survey Responses


Mastermind Interviews


Focus Group


Interview Questions


Ideas in 5 Minutes




Project Presentation


We also offer intro sessions that provide insurance professionals with the opportunity to experience our Cookhouse Labs methodology and a sneak peek at what it’s like to co-create and collaborate with our global community. If you are not a Cookhouse Labs member and are interested in finding out more, check out our membership benefits!

How to Disrupt Insurance in 24 Hours

Only 3 days left to SummerHack 2020!

If you’re joining us as a Hacker or Mentor this summer, you’re probably wondering how you’ll create a disruptive IoT-powered solution in just 24 hours. To help you prepare for our upcoming virtual hackathon, we’ve put together this quick guide on how to disrupt the insurance industry using Design Thinking in time for Friday’s deadline!

What is Design Thinking?

Previously in the insurance space, most insurers took the approach of creating solutions based solely on assumptions and hoped that their products or solutions would resonate with target audiences. Design Thinking reverses this logic by first identifying the root(s) of the problem, observing how people think and behave, and gathering customer insights. From there, they create practical solutions. Using this methodology invites teams to look at a problem through the eyes of the customer, put themselves in their shoes and fully empathize with the customer – who is ultimately the people impacted directly by the solution.

Stages of Design Thinking

The following are the stages of the Design Thinking process:

  • Empathize with the customer and other stakeholders
  • Define the opportunity or problem
  • Design a solution
  • Create and build a Minimum Viable Product/Concept/Service
  • Test the solution with customers and users

How to Use Design Thinking at SummerHack 2020

While the stages listed above may sound time-consuming, it’s possible to walk through each of them within a short timeframe. As a reminder, our Innovation Team will be available via regular check-in calls to answer any questions and provide support on how to follow Design Thinking to develop impactful solutions.

Below, we’ve broken down the 24-hour hackathon period using the Design Thinking process to help you structure your time (should you choose to do so) and succeed in SummerHack 2020!

Thursday, July 30th

9 AM – Empathize

At 9 am EDT, the Cookhouse Labs team will announce our IoT-based challenge and you will have 24 hours to create your solution!

Your Design Thinking journey begins with the first stage, Empathize. This is where you will begin to understand your target group, which can be done in 2 ways: internet research and interviews with your target group. You can’t create a customer-centric solution without putting yourself in the shoes of the customer, and a good way to do this is to speak directly with the potential customer and listen.

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • An Empathy Map to help you visualize how the user thinks/feels and documents their pain points
  • Your Persona, a character that represents the type of customer/user of your solution. For example, in our last project about mitigating small business bankruptcy, we created the persona of Fiona, a small business owner in Toronto

1st Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 11 am to 12 pm!

3 PM – Define

The next stage focuses on constructing a point of view based on the user’s needs. Here, you will take time to reflect on what the user has shared with you and to visualize their experience. By doing so, you can define what problem you are trying to solve, which will help you shape a better experience for the user.

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • A Journey Map, which is a narrative of your user’s steps to accomplish a specific goal. This is mapped out in 2 layers: a timeline of the user’s actions and their thoughts/emotions while completing each task. You want to identify areas where the user encounters obstacles or barriers along their journey
  • How Might We (HMW) statements, which are short questions that focus on specific problem areas from the Journey Map and identifies the benefits or gains the solution will bring. In the same project about bankruptcy mitigation, our team created 20 HMW statements and selected, “How might we reduce the risk of financial impact of current economic events?”

2nd Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 3 pm to 4 pm!

7 PM – Design

After selecting a single HMW statement to focus on, it’s time to ideate! This stage is all about connecting to your inner child and using your imagination to come up with multiple solutions to the problem your team identified. Quantity is important here, so remember to list as many possibilities as you can!

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • Multiple possible solutions to tackle the challenge in various timeframes
  • A chosen idea to begin prototyping!

3rd Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 7 pm to 8 pm!

11 PM – Create

Once your team has voted on a winning idea, you are now ready to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). You will begin by creating a low-fidelity prototype, which could take the form of a sketch, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation.

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • A sketch of your Lo-Fi prototype to help visualize and test the solution

4th Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 11 pm to 12 am!

Friday, July 31st

3 AM – Test

Now that the solution has taken shape, it’s time to test and retest the idea with different users. The objective is to receive feedback on the content, design, and usability of the prototype and is usually done via surveys and interviews. It is important to remain open to feedback and fully engage with the potential end-user in order to understand their thoughts and improve your prototype. Note that if it is not possible to test with actual personas, you can either test within the team, with friends or connections you have in your network, your Mentor, or ask the Cookhouse Labs team if they have a chance to check out your solution.

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • A final MVP that is ready to be presented

5th Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 3 am to 4 am!

7 AM – Wrap-Up

In 2 hours, you will submit your final solution!

At this time, you should begin to practice your presentation and prepare any materials required (such as PowerPoint slides). Remember, you will only have three minutes to pitch your solution to our panel of judges!

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • Submitted your solution on our platform, including a brief description and any additional materials
  • Prepared your presentation for our Live Pitch Event beginning at 9:30 am

6th Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 6 am to 7 am!

To provide even further support, our Innovation Team has prepared a Design Thinking video series to walk you through each stage in more detail, which you will have access to before the event.

And remember – along the way, you will have support from your Mentor, an industry expert dedicated to providing your team with valuable knowledge and expertise.

And with that, you are now ready to disrupt the insurance industry!

We wish all our teams the best of luck for SummerHack 2020! We invite our community members to join the Live Pitch Event on Friday, July 31st at 9:30 am EDT to see the exciting solutions our teams of student and corporate innovations develop.

To receive an invite, please register here.

The Recipe to Attract and Retain Young Talent

  • 4 organizations.
  • 17.5 hours of collaboration.
  • 55 perspectives surveyed.
  • 1 shared challenge.

Last week, we combined these ingredients to cook up a solution to attract and retain young talent. This was a challenge that many Senior Managers shared with us and are currently facing. As one Manager put it, “We are not doing enough to bring young talent into the industry.”

Our team set off to learn more using the Design Thinking methodology. This allowed the insurers to see the problem through the unique perspectives of the students and Managers it involved. To facilitate this, we surveyed over 55 Senior Managers and students from Canada and Germany to voice their opinions in a brief questionnaire.

“We expect that a certain percentage of young hires will turnover within a year or two,” another manager told us.

“I think Insurance is a lot of paperwork, accounting, and a lot of repeated work,” a young respondent wrote.

Clearly there were several obstacles at play — but where would our team of innovators begin?

The team decided to indulge the young talent perspective first. They explored the thoughts and emotions of young people when it came to job search methods, desired benefits, and office culture expectations. The highlights were then compared to responses from Senior Managers.

Along the way, our team uncovered a major gap. They mapped out benefits that students desired, then matched these answers to the benefits that Managers thought students wanted on their job offers. To everyone’s surprise, there was very little overlap, as shown below.

Armed with these surprising insights, our team ideated 55 ways to #BridgeTheGap in 5 minutes. Together, they voted on a single idea to develop and test during their time in our virtual Sprint. Our Senior UX/UI Designer, Adys Franco, worked with the team to whip up a prototype of their solution, which the team then tested. They first tested with two focus groups of university students, and the second was done with current HR experts with insurance backgrounds.

The solution is based on a program designed to attract and retain young talent by engaging the young hires from day one and inviting them to work with other departments in the organization. “New graduates will find the work environment less intimidating with the additional guidance and will now have the support they need,” a leader said during the testing session. “This will be very helpful to them!”

The team seasoned their solution using the feedback collected, and soon, it was time to virtually present their masterpiece in front of the Cookhouse Labs community. The response was warm and positive, and the presentation even invited a discussion around the gap in perceptions.

“We’re moving the curve in the right direction,” said a member of our audience. “If people begin to understand the business, they might begin to understand the possibilities within the industry for them.” A job well done and time well spent!

As we wrapped up the presentation, we asked our participants to reflect on their experience in our test kitchen.

“I liked the Sprint experience so much that I came back a second time,” a returning participant shared with the audience at the end. “I appreciate being able to explore the problem and I hope this issue is tackled down the road, because it is a real problem for the industry.”

“It’s amazing to think about where we began and how much we accomplished in such little time!” another participant said.

We’d like to thank the participants, survey respondents, and audience members for the time and insights they shared with us during the project. Our recipe proved to be a fan-favorite, and we’re excited to see what our next team cooks up!

Want to join the next batch of innovators? Sign up for our next virtual Sprint.

#BridgeTheGap to Attract and Retain Young Talent

All over the world, members of the insurance community are asking the question, “How might we attract and retain young talent?”

We recruited a team of innovators to join our virtual co-creation Sprint and develop a solution to this shared challenge. While our team’s solution will be ready to present on Friday (which you’re invited to attend), we’ve compiled a few nuggets of insights we want to share with you to help you ideate your own way to #BridgeTheGap.

We surveyed a number of university students from Canada and Germany to better understand their approach to job searching. Below, we compare the top responses to insights from Senior Managers within our community.

Before we begin, here’s what we learned

We asked our student respondents to share 3 words they associated with the word ‘insurance’. The words we frequently received were ‘Health’, ‘Security’, ‘Necessity’, and ‘Safety’. As we learned, young professionals do not necessarily have negative perceptions of the insurance industry, based on the positive words our respondents submitted. They see insurance more from a perspective of what it offers!

The average acceptable length to stay within a job/company is 2 years, as we learned from our respondents. This was confirmed by Senior Managers, who shared with us that they generally expect new hires to turnover within 1 or 2 years.

In our final question, we asked respondents what an insurance organization must have for them to accept a job offer from it. Some of the responses we received were opportunities to grow, interesting work, good reputation, salary and benefits, and a supportive culture. Young professionals seek company cultures that are respectful, inclusive, and friendly. We encourage you to look into your office culture and ensure that you are providing a positive space for growth and collaboration.

So, what are some ways you can attract and retain young talent?

Venture into the Career Portal

Where Students Search: LinkedIn, Indeed, and university/college Career Portal websites

The Gap: Most Managers currently post jobs on LinkedIn, Indeed, and their company websites. There is an opportunity to collaborate with universities and colleges to post job opportunities on career portal websites, thereby reaching more students.

Connect with Candidates

What Students Care About: Great coworkers, security, and money

The Gap: Managers currently offer flexibility, security, and advancement opportunities. Introduce potential recruits to the great people in your organization and encourage a connection between

them. This will show recruits the human side of your company and will help you stand out from other job offers.

Offer the Right Benefits

What Students Want: Health insurance, mentorship, and an opportunity to apply and develop new skills

The Gap: Connect new hires to older employees during the onboarding process. These mentors should learn about the hires’ goals and work with the young talent to achieve these goals over the next few years. A great opportunity to embed one of the key characteristics on creativity and innovation – Empathy!

Young employees offer a fresh perspective to the insurance organizations they join, along with technical and analytical skills. These young recruits are the leaders of tomorrow and play a key role in the company’s succession planning.

By making these minor changes to your recruitment strategy, not only will you be able to attract young candidates, but you will also retain your new hires for a longer period of time.

And in the process, you will be able to #BridgeTheGap and #MakeInsuranceBetter!

Why You Shouldn’t Offer Millennials Just a Job in Insurance!

A salesman sits across an elderly couple in a barely lit office. Just outside the office, other middle-aged salespeople push papers and sip stale coffee in grey cubicles. The salesman hardly blinks as he inks a rubber stamp, then presses the word “Denied” in red onto the cover of the couple’s cardboard file folder.

This isn’t an image of the insurance industry 60 years ago; it’s how the industry is seen today.

While this picture may not be accurate, it is the default assumption of younger generations. The insurance industry is seen as a dull one, where the day is spent sifting through papers and denying claims on repeat. A job in insurance is expected to be boring, unrewarding, and likely the end of one’s ambition.

Thanks to technological innovations, the industry is undergoing many changes. But the industry’s image has stayed the same over decades. The picture of cardboard folders and rubber stamps prevails, meaning the talent pool of Millennial insurers is a small and rapidly shrinking one.

Millennials clearly don’t want jobs in insurance, but how can that perception be changed?

Let’s start with that word – ‘Jobs’. While other industries are seen as exciting and innovative, insurance lags behind as the slow second, kept alive for sentimental reasons by older generations. Millennials don’t want jobs; they want meaningful, rewarding careers that allow them to have an impact on the world, and other industries offer them the opportunity to lead change.

Mindlessly pushing paper just doesn’t fit the bill.

Earlier, we asked how we can change Millennial perceptions of the industry. What we should really be asking is: why haven’t we asked the Millennials this question yet?

Insurers know that a career in insurance can be rewarding. After all, insurance is about protecting individuals and families from catastrophic losses. The entire industry is dedicated to having a positive impact on the community. But the industry needs Millennials to help bring it out of its barely lit office and into the exciting digital future that lies ahead.

In other words, the insurance industry needs to ask Millennials, “How can we do better?”

Think about it this way. In recent years, the industry has had an influx of cool technology, creating job openings in areas that didn’t exist before. Many products are looking to transition to online platforms in order to improve the user experience. There is a huge demand for experts with a better understanding of digital processes to lead the transition.

Well, who do we know that grew up with the Internet?

The answer to improving the Millennial perception of the insurance industry is collaboration. By offering Millennials a seat at the table, the industry will open up a dialogue on how to improve insurance and in turn, show Millennials that they have an impact. It’s a win-win situation; the industry creates a Millennial-friendly environment with innovative product offerings, and Millennials contribute their unique perspective.

So, don’t offer Millennials stale coffee and a ‘job’ in insurance. Create the opportunity to make a difference, and suddenly the industry has something of interest to offer the Net Generation.