The changing employee benefits environment is causing many employers to reallocate costs. However, in their quest to trim expenses, employers still need to balance offering a robust benefits package to retain and attract the best employees. To do this, some are shifting from employer-paid ancillary benefits — including long-term disability insurance — to employee-paid benefits available on a voluntary basis.

One side effect of shifting LTD coverage to employees is that they can choose not to elect coverage and work through a disabling illness or injury. This can contribute to lost productivity and increased health care costs for an employer. That’s why it’s important for employers to do everything they can to maximize enrollment.

Millennials, who have been exposed to the pressures of an uncertain economy, are vulnerable to the risks disability insurance can protect against. Their lower net worth, combined with a mind-set that a disabling condition will never happen to them, makes them ideal candidates for disability insurance, as many don’t have the savings to withstand a loss of income.

Educate to enroll

Millennials are a tech-savvy bunch. Harness their demand for instant information to bridge the educational gap and inform them on the importance of voluntary LTD insurance. Two types of communications initiatives can help overcome enrollment barriers:

1. Online education. Online tools can be an engaging way to inform about the need for coverage and spur enrollment. The Council for Disability Awareness’ Personal Disability Quotient calculator and Earnable Income Quotient are two tools that can help employees understand the financial impact of a disabling illness or injury.

2. Paperless enrollment and benefits administration. Engage millennials further with online modules that help them review options and complete online enrollment. Many modules can be customized to include employer-specific benefits and features. Online enrollment also helps HR departments streamline paperwork and other administrative duties.

Educating millennials in a meaningful way can lessen their risks and prepare them for the future. In addition to ensuring they’re protected in case of a disabling illness or injury, it’s a smart strategy for employers to ensure their bottom line isn’t inadvertently affected. 

Alison Daily, second vice president of clinical and vocational services with The Standard, oversees the clinical and return-to-work staff and works closely with the firm’s medical director, physician staff and consultants. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and management from Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, Calif.

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