Employees are still concerned about their finances and many look to their employers to educate them about retirement, personal finances and healthcare.
Now is the ideal time “for employers to take that role seriously and see themselves empowered to educate their employees,” says Todd Katz, executive vice president for group, voluntary and worksite benefits at MetLife, which this week released its 14th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study.
Employees’ “concerns differ from generation to generation and the thing that jumped out to us [in the research] is millennials – which will be the biggest part of the workforce as we move forward – are looking to their employer as a more prominent source for financial education and health. Millennials are more concerned than others and they would like to rely on employers to help,” Katz says, adding that the best way to improve benefit plan offerings is to better communicate what is being offered.
“It is important to have a good benefit program, but the quality of the program is what is relevant and the way it is communicated. If an employee doesn’t understand it and doesn’t have an opportunity to fit it to them, its importance becomes less,” he says.
The study found that 62% of all employees look to their “employers for help in achieving financial security through employee benefits. Half of employees strongly agree that because of the benefits they receive at work, they worry less about unexpected health and financial issues, and 70% say that benefits that can be customized to meet their needs would increase their loyalty to their employers.”
Millennials, more than any other generation, are optimistic about their financial position and they believe things will be better for them in the future, but the MetLife research found that they aren’t all that prepared, with 41% of millennial respondents saying they live paycheck to paycheck. Fifty-five percent of millennials expect their financial situation to get better in the next year, compared to 46% of Generation Xers and 38% of baby boomers.
Millennials have a reputation for only staying at an employer for a couple of years, but that could change in the near future as employers find new and creative ways to keep employees happy.
Financial wellness and education are a great way for employers to garner employee loyalty and satisfaction, particularly if benefits are customized to what each employee needs. Portability is another option that is becoming very popular. That means buying benefits through an employer that employees pay for themselves and can take with them when they change jobs or move into retirement, Katz says.
“I think employees are looking for a broader, somewhat more comprehensive view against this education vehicle about how to plan for what their future is going to be like,” he adds.
The study found that 70% of employees say having customized benefits to meet their needs would increase their loyalty.
He recommends that employers personalize their offered benefits to individual employees and offer channel variety when it comes to educational programs, giving employees the choice to communicate and enroll in a way that works for them. Employers also should make sure their offerings are broad enough so that they reach different segments of their workforce, including different genders, generations, income levels and geographies.
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