Employers who tap into the specific generational needs of their employees and address certain desires could provide an upswing in benefit enrollment.

Applying knowledge of each different generation’s characteristics and habits could provide a boon to an employer’s strategy, according to new research from the Group Insurance division of Securian Financial Group.

“Different generations respond to different approaches,” said Paula Bilitz, director, group life marketing at Securian. “Employers who tailor their benefits communications to employee preferences have a better chance of persuading them to enroll.”

For example, different strategies the paper recommends include:

  • Baby boomers (born 1946-64) appreciate honest, simple language and financial scenarios. They also want information about estate planning.
  • Approach Generation X (born 1965-81) with virtual marketing and a focus on significant life events such as marriage, having children or changing jobs.
  • To effectively market to millennials (born 1982-93), use online resources to reach out to them while opening lines of communication to HR to provide support.

To fulfill employer and employee expectations, communication and education on benefits must be tailored – in both “style and delivery” – to educate employees on the need benefits serve, the “gaps” they fill and the value they offer.
Also see: Credit unions gain ground among millennials

For example, there’s a significant insurance gap – the median amount of insurance coverage employees have and the amount they should have based on their self-reported needs.

When compared to all generations, the report notes that Generation X shows the widest gap between their life insurance needs and the amount they currently have in place. Generation X is showing a gap of about 40% greater than the population as a whole, the report notes, which is a 24% increase since 2008.

That is going to require a team approach, notes Deloitte’s Center for Financial Services. “Employers and their group life insurance benefits providers need to formulate a plan that takes into consideration the Generation X profile.”

Focusing on casual informational sessions will leverage the social connectedness of Generation X, while reducing general skepticism, the report notes. Just be sure to set up informal sessions within a trusted environment, the report recommends. 

In addition, to reach Generation X, the report says to jump on the bandwagon of significant life events – marriage, divorce, having children or changing jobs – will remind this generation of the impact these changes are having on their financial status and what can be done to protect the current lifestyle.

Also see: Better understanding of benefits helps both employee and employer

“By understanding unique benefit needs and preferences across generations, employers can ensure employees are better informed – and better protected,” the report notes.  

Being direct also helps. Another approach to increasing benefit enrollment is to simply ask what employees like and don’t like about the current enrollment process.

“Employees are often willing to share critiques of their company’s benefits communications and provide suggestions for making them better,” Bilitz said.

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