Millennials have strong opinions regarding the benefits that their employees offer.
According to new research from Aflac, Millennials are very clear about which benefits they want their employers to offer, and Millennials now represent the largest segment of the U.S. labor force (53.3 million); therefore, employers may need to offer a wider range of benefits to its employees.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Millennials expect an annual raise, followed by 60% who said they expect to be offered major medical insurance coverage, according to the 2016 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey released by Aflac, the leading provider of voluntary insurance sales at the worksite in the U.S.
However, the survey found that while Millennials are clear about the benefits they expect, many are clearly having difficulty managing details for their major medical insurance benefits. In fact, more than half of Millennials admit that they agree that they do not understand how a high-deductible health plan really works, although 60% of Millennials are enrolled in these plans.
The 2016 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey was conducted among 1,900 U.S. adults employed either full or part time in June and July 2016 by Lightspeed GMI on behalf of Aflac.
It’s All About the Benefits
Benefits matter to all workforce segments, but they’re especially important to keeping Millennials satisfied. How much do they matter? More than any other age group, 72% of Millennials are likely to take a job with lower pay but better benefits at a time when 66% of Millennials say they are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months. Additionally, Millennials who are extremely or very satisfied with their benefits are also more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, compared to those who are not very or not at all satisfied with their benefits (89% versus 27%).
Beyond an annual raise and major medical insurance, additional top benefits choices for Millennials include:
- Flexible work schedule: 44%
- Regular access to professional training: 36%
- Ability to work from home: 27%
- An annual promotion: 31%
And although student debt is currently a hot topic, more Millennials said they expect free food/snacks at work (23%) than student loan payment assistance from their employer (19%).
“We know employee turnover is costly to employers – particularly smaller to mid-sized businesses – in terms of recruiting and training new employees, loss of institutional knowledge and stress on the remaining employees who must pick up the slack,” said Matthew Owenby, senior vice president, chief human resources officer at Aflac. “And while not every employer can afford to offer pay raises and free food, one thing they can do is provide access to the top-rate benefits and benefits education that Millennials crave.”
Making Benefits Decisions is Stressful
While offering an appealing menu of benefits is important for employers who want to retain these workers, a large number of Millennials struggle with maneuvering through benefits decision-making and enrollment, particularly when it comes to major medical insurance. The Aflac study found:
- Just over 70% of Millennials say that actually reading about their benefits is long, complicated or stressful.
- More than one in three Millennials feel frustrated, confused or anxious just thinking about their annual benefits enrollment process.
- Nearly three in 10 Millennials would rather give up internet or social media for one day than enroll in benefits.
Millennials’ difficulty in understanding enrollment benefits such as high-deductible health plans can have significant financial repercussions if an injury or illness occurs. Not surprisingly, seven in 10 Millennials estimate they waste up to $750 because of mistakes they make with their insurance benefits during open enrollment.
Simplification and Access are Key
Simplifying the benefits enrollment process and ensuring access to benefits resources can go a long way toward helping Millennials reduce their health insurance knowledge gap and curb their out-of-pocket costs. More than four in five Millennials said that they need some kind of support to be confident about their next benefits selections. Those needs include:
- More information (30%).
- More help from a benefits consultant or advisor (22%).
- More money (18%).
- More time (13%).
Millennials also have preferences regarding the benefits enrollment process and information resources, with personal interaction, transparency and options being hallmarks. In spite of being the generation that perfected the text message, if given the opportunity, 60% would speak to a person face to face or over the phone about their benefits choices, and more than half said that in an ideal world, their benefits enrollment process would be more like Amazon.com, with easy-to-compare options online.
Better Insurance Coverage Equals Higher Worker Satisfaction
Offering tangible financial benefits through voluntary insurance is another way to meet Millennials’ expectations. Eighty-four percent of Millennials see a growing need for voluntary benefits. And of those, 52% say it’s driven by the rising cost of medical services. That’s an opportunity for employers. Millennial employees who were offered voluntary benefits at work reported higher levels of satisfaction with their jobs (80%) compared to 58% of those who aren’t offered voluntary benefits.
“By providing complementary benefits options like voluntary insurance, employers can help employees offset out-of-pocket costs like rent, mortgage, copays or deductibles – enabling workers to be better financially prepared and protected,” said Owenby. “This approach can help meet evolving Millennial expectations and provide both short- and long-term dividends through stronger employee retention and satisfaction.”