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Choosing and Using Benefits: How to Think Like a Millennial

Choosing and Using Benefits: How to Think Like a Millennial
Posted on Friday, October 20, 2017 by Rae Shanahan
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Millennials are now the largest age demographic in the workforce, and we’re already seeing them make their presence known through shifts in HR policy and programs. 
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The “Millennial effect” is particularly apparent in benefits, with Millennials showing unprecedented benefits preferences compared to previous generations.

With Annual Enrollment fast-approaching, here are three ways HR/benefits pros can distill the data on Millennials to drive greater benefits engagement, understanding, and informed choice among this powerful demographic group.

  1.  Shake up selection

Millennials have come of age in an on-demand world – there isn’t anything anymore in our day-to-day lives that we can’t have (food, clothes, media, entertainment) specifically curated for when, where, and how we want it. So, it’s no surprise that these young people are looking to curate their benefits the same way. Put simply, choosing between one HMO and one PPO is not going to satisfy them.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute finds that 45 percent of Millennials would prefer to receive a defined dollar amount from their employer and then choose their benefits from a list of options; another 24 percent are even bolder, seeking to take the total per-employee amount employers earmark for benefits to purchase their own plans outside the workplace.

While giving employees total autonomy over benefits selection may not be an option at your organization (nor is it entirely advisable, given Americans’ level of health literacy), you can still make Millennials feel empowered in the benefits selection process:

  • Survey employees (of all ages) about which benefits they want and which they don’t. Asking for input and feedback is valuable in making employees feel heard and respected. Not only do surveys help promote empathy, but they also can give your team useful ideas on how to craft your benefits strategy that you can’t gain from data alone. It worked for us at Businessolver – employee feedback is to thank for Solvers’ furry family members now being covered by pet insurance!
  • Provide digital resources to create a personalized experience. Businessolver’s MyChoice Recommendation Engine, for example, prompts employees with questions to determine their preferences, needs and aversion to risk. It then analyzes the responses to provide a personalized recommendation of which benefits to select. This kind of customized approach can help employees feel like their benefits package has been crafted just for them.
  • Follow the data. MyChoice and related resources capture powerful employee information around enrollment, savings, risk tolerance, and education that your team can – and should – leverage to inform the benefits options you offer year to year.
  1. Focus on finance

Although we often assume older generations are most risk-averse in financial dealings, studies show that Millennials are more worried about financial risks and save more than older generations. Bank of America Merrill Lynch finds that 82 percent of Millennials are investing in retirement savings, compared to 77 percent of Gen Xers and 75 percent of Baby Boomers.

HR pros can engage this interest in fiscal responsibility by outlining what financial benefits are available to employees and providing opportunities to learn more about financial planning.

Now. Just because employees are interested in financial planning doesn’t mean they understand how to do it. Educating employees on how to make the most of their paycheck can go a long way in appealing to Millennials (and all generations).

  1. Think beyond what’s available at enrollment

Millennials in particular seem eager for opportunities and resources that go beyond traditional benefits that are available at enrollment. For example, a PwC study finds that training and development is viewed by Millennials as most valuable. This means that while benefits packages remain critical, HR pros must think beyond enrollment and ensure they’re offering resources and opportunities that help employees grow their skills and careers.

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