As competitive advantage in the auto insurance increasingly depends on differentiated digital customer engagement and smarter analytics-driven decision-making on the back end, Progressive Insurance is looking to beef up its technology talent pool. And to attract that tech talent, the company is trying to make itself look as Millennial-friendly as it can.

The Mayfield, Ohio-based auto insurance giant sought to raise its visibility as a tech employer in September by announcing its plan to add IT staff between now and the end of the year. But the company’s actual tech hiring plans are unclear. Progressive first announced it would be filling nearly 2,150 tech and non-tech positions this quarter—then quickly reduced that projection to 1,400.

And while the company prominently featured IT in its announcement, tech jobs will wind up accounting for less than 20% of the new positions Progressive is looking to fill. Those positions include what seem to be fairly generic systems admins, big data analysts, and software developers, but the company has also posted positions with more specialized skills in areas such as interactive voice response and contact routing.

Regardless of exactly what positions Progressive ultimately winds up filling, one thing is clear: the company’s HR leadership wants Millennials. The company heavily touts what it perceives as Millennial-friendly attributes such as on-site fitness centers, a casual dress code, and employee-organized groups ranging from running clubs to LGBT community meetings.

More to the point, the company is heavily positioning itself as a hotbed of innovation. According to an online survey of 1,000 Millennials looking for jobs in IT, performed by Wakefield Research in June 2015 on behalf of Progressive, 81% of Millennials would accept a less attractive compensation package to do work they were passionate about. That quest for passion explains why Progressive promotes its Business Innovation Garage (BIG), an internal innovation think-tank, in its jobs announcement—even though none of the new IT positions are explicitly associated with BIG.

Of course, with a purported 14 billion miles of Snapshot data alone, Progressive does offer interesting possibilities to creative-minded data science types. And the company certainly has a credible history of innovation, including what the insurer describes as the insurance industry’s first-ever website.

Insurance, however, is not generally the most exciting industry for mission-minded Millennials. Start-ups from Silicon Valley to Silicon Alley can lure top talent with ground-floor opportunities and big potential stakes in any financial gains. And Progressive’s own study shows that most Millennials don’t view insurance as an excellent opportunity, ranking it behind industries such as banking and healthcare.

But Progressive is determined to push ahead with its plan to recruit Millennials—as much for their cultural and psychological understanding of their insurance-buying contemporaries as their technical skills. “These new hires will help to diversify our thinking,” said Progressive PR specialist Erin Vrobel, “and help us discover the latest innovations in the technology space.”

This story courtesy of Information Management's sister brand, Insurance Networking News.

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