Marsh: Next Generation Leadership: transforming the Risk and Insurance Industry

Transform to perform has everything to do with retaining and attracting talent of all ages and backgrounds within companies in the risk and insurance industry. Helena Zikova: 'The tool for our much needed transformation is leadership. Leadership will be the competitive edge of risk managers, that will help us overcome the challenges of today and build resilience for organizations in the future.'



Helena Zikova is SVP and Sales Leader Europe for Mercer Marsh Benefits, next generation leadership mentor and author of the book “Dear Monsters – Redefining New-Age Leadership for Millenials and Gen Zers”. She is one of the speakers at NARIM 2023 on this topic. Helena continues: 'We live in a polycrisis world, as is shown in the 2023 Global Risk Report published annually by Marsh McLennan. Worldwide, we are facing a multitude of complex challenges, among them: climate change, digitization, mental health, and financial equity. According to Helena, the risk and insurance industry must look and transform ‘within company walls’ to be able to go head-to-head with these challenges.


When we look at the insurance industry and risk managers, we see that the entire industry is very dependent on people. People are our biggest asset. This sheds light on an underrated risk: that of people risk. One that organisations need to take very seriously. As Generation Z starts to enter the workforce, it will soon make up almost a quarter of the global working population, creating a new front line in the workplace and becoming responsible for managing risks stemming from business transactions, interactions with customers and more. For employers, this is the key moment to understand the fundamental needs of their younger employees. They have the opportunity to re-establish the relationship between employee and employer, building a robust and energized workforce fit for the future.'


Talent risk

When we take a look at the results from the latest Mercer Marsh Benefits People Risk Report in the Netherlands, we see that Dutch risk managers rank the changing nature of work, succession and key person risk, as well as travel and mobility in the top 10 people related risks. Helena Zikova: 'This clearly demonstrates that talent is top of mind for risk managers in the Netherlands. As an industry we must tackle people risk if we want to continue to perform in the future.'


The concern of Dutch risk managers is not without reason. According to Helena, we are in the middle of a talent and leadership crisis. “40% of Gen Zs would like to leave their jobs within two years, and 35% say they would do so even before they had another job lined up. This is not only a major financial risk  but also a people risk for succession planning within companies.' But how do we attract and retain this new generation of talent?


Leadership perspective

Helena emphasizes that demonstrating leadership is key to addressing these challenges.

According to the latest research, 83% of companies stated that developing their leaders, and leadership skills is crucial. However, organisations do not seem to invest enough in building leadership skills for young talent. 69 percent of Millennials are concerned that their workplace does not develop their leadership skills. 'When we are growing talent in our companies, we are probably not thinking enough about the leadership perspective,' Helena explains. '32% of Gen Zs and 33% of Millennials say decisions are too often made top down within their organizations and employee feedback is not always acted upon. Organizations need to understand that they must listen to their workforce, including the younger, more junior employees.' By doing so, companies will see an increased engagement from the younger generations and higher levels of retention.   


The new generation entering the workforce today can change the game and reshape organizations.

So what are some of the challenges or must win battles for  organizations in our industry?  They include the following:

  •          Provide a work environment that encourages healthy habits and is a space for physical, mental and emotional safety
  •          Enable financial  stability through fair and equitable rewards programmes, education and communication
  •          Ensure business resilience  through disciplined financial and workforce planning.
  •          Commit to having a broader impact on environmental and social challenges.


With our risk management solutions and technical skills, we are building resilience for businesses, the public sector and wider societies. The impact goes beyond that -  can help improve people's lives, provide better healthcare, better coverage, treatment and prevention, not just for physical, but also for mental health conditions. According to Helena, 'it is essential for the industry to build and flex its leadership muscle, as leadership will be the competitive edge of risk managers. This leadership must be diverse and inclusive, with the new generation having a seat at the table.'

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