How to understand the benefits needs of millennials

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Millennials are a job-hopping generation who do everything via technology, including seeking advice on insurance benefits. Oh, and they see no value in purchasing workplace benefits. Sound familiar?

That’s what many people think.

However, that doesn’t seem to be the reality. In fact, millennials place as much value on having employee benefits at work as much as other generations, according to LIMRA, a worldwide association of insurance and financial services companies. Tech-savvy millennials still want one-to-one consultation when purchasing life insurance, which is not too different from about 48%of Gen Y and 49% of Gen X who also prefer to buy life insurance through face-to-face meetings with financial professionals, according to a 2014 LIMRA study.

While millennials constantly switch jobs — so did every other generation who came before them — the reason we hear so much about it is because there are a lot of them. In 2015, millennials surpassed Generation X to become the largest in the workforce, according to Pew Research Center.

See also: Perks, benefits key to recruiting millennials

Millennials entered the workforce during an economic downturn and didn’t have the opportunity for wage gains during a long tenure; they look for jobs where they can earn enough money to pay their bills and get quality benefits.

Millennials want jobs with earning potential and quality benefits. How do we figure out what millennials actually need when it comes to benefits?

See the need for benefits
Employers should recognize that benefits are very important to millennial employees. It might be what attracted them to your company in the first place. It could also be the deciding factor as to whether or not they stay.

Be conscious that many younger workers are dealing with a different set of financial goals and struggles. Student loan debt coupled with lower income than previous generations and a sluggish economy creates a different set of financial priorities for millennials.

See also: How millennials can evolve a company’s benefits

Even though they are the youngest generation in the workforce, they value benefits just as much as other generations, according to LIMRA. About 94% of millennials say that having insurance through the workplace is important or very important, with dental insurance (91%) and vision care (89%) not far behind. The value they place on these benefits doesn’t change too much based on who pays for it, according to The Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Offer affordable benefits packages
Today’s high deductible health plans might be attractive to millennials because premiums are lower. However, these plans can leave employees vulnerable to considerable financial risk. Two out of every three Americans do not have the cash on hand to pay for a $1,000 emergency, according to a poll to The Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Voluntary insurance is a great option for millennials because it’s affordable and flexible, which allows them to customize their benefits package. Voluntary benefits can help close the out-of-pocket gap in an affordable way because there are no restrictions on how benefit payments can be used. Claims payments can be used to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses such as deductibles and copayments, or nonmedical costs including rent, household bills or even childcare during a family member’s treatment.

See also: 3 tips for engaging millennial employees through payroll

Policyholders can keep their coverage even if they happen to leave the company – as long as they continue to pay premiums. Premiums for voluntary insurance won’t go up just because an employee no longer works at the company where the policy was originally purchased.

While millennials tend to keep a close eye on their spending and budget, more than half are willing to pay more for better insurance coverage, according to a 2015 Nielsen study. Not only do millennials want insurance, but they also purchase and use it.

Provide the appropriate consultation
Millennials are a social generation, but that doesn’t mean they want to do everything exclusively online. One-to-one benefits counseling is an important part of the enrollment process because a trained benefits specialist can talk to employees about their insurance options, answer questions and explain products.

See also: 5 things millennials look for from a workplace

Use technology to supplement, not replace, face-to-face ongoing communication with these employees. It’s the preferred method for all generations, and adult millennials prefer it 48%of the time, according to Limra.

Millennials have different needs and expectations regarding their benefits — and their numbers are too large to ignore. Keep them engaged during annual enrollment and consider a workplace benefits strategy that includes affordable options such as voluntary insurance and communication that aligns with their lifestyle.

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