During the next all-employee meeting, look to your right and to your left. Chances are, that one of the individuals is a millennial, between the ages of 19 and 35. Millennials now comprise one-third of the U.S. workforce, making this demographic the largest generation at work. So it’s important to strike the right chord with this audience—miss the mark and you miss huge opportunities to get them engaged and excited about working at your company. And if you provide tax-saving Consumer-Directed Benefits, millennials might not even understand the huge advantages they offer.
A survey by Employee Benefit Research Institute found that millennials are more likely than workers in other age groups to be less familiar with employer-provided benefits. So, it’s no shock that the survey also revealed their participation in employee benefits programs is generally lower than among baby boomers and Gen Xers.
Let’s change that trend. Here are five tips to actively engage with your millennials during Open Enrollment this year:
1) Keep it simple. A survey by Collective Health found that 72 percent of millennials are confused about the benefits options available to them. If you overwhelm this demographic with piles of paperwork, jargon, or long-winded content, they’ll lose interest faster than they can type “LOL.” Stick to the basics and provide a high-level overview of the programs, details about how to enroll and clear instructions about where to find more information.
2) Stress the savings potential. While many Americans are struggling to get ahead financially, millennials are perhaps the least prepared for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. The 2016 Aflac WorkForces Report found that 62 percent of millennials have $1,000 or less on hand to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses and 63 percent would not be able to handle the financial costs that come with a serious injury or illness. During Open Enrollment, it’s important to clearly outline the savings potential that Consumer-Directed Benefits deliver. Use real-life scenarios within your materials and provide access to tools such as online savings calculators to help employees see how much more of their annual salary they can bring home each year.
3) Go beyond paper. Millennials consume information differently than previous generations, and are accustomed to being fed bite-sized pieces of information from multiple sources via mobile devices. Aim to work Open Enrollment information into their daily news feed, sharing information that’s easily accessed from employees’ phones, quickly scanned and directly linked to a site where they can take action.
4) Explain the risks of participation—or lack thereof. Some people believe that millennials have a reputation of being frivolous with money, but when it comes to healthcare, both cost and convenience matter to this generation. A survey by Deloitte found that millennials are the most likely to switch doctors and travel farther in order to save money on healthcare. In addition to stressing the savings potential of Consumer-Directed Benefits, you want to clearly explain any risks of participation to this cost-conscious group. Programs such as a Health Savings Account (HSA), that acts as a health care “nest egg,” and a Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (FSA) with Carryover, which allows employees to carry over up to $500 of unused funds from one plan year to the next year, may be particularly appealing to millennials.
5) Address their life-stage needs. You don’t want to assume that starting a family and/or retirement planning are top of mind with millennials. It’s good to recognize millennials’ particular life-stage needs while educating them on the advantages of enrolling. Messages about long-term healthcare costs and retirement might not align with their current financial priorities. For example, if your company offers an HSA-qualified, high-deductible health plan paired with an HSA, it’s a good idea to stress that an HSA, while a terrific tool to build retirement savings, can also be used to save money on eligible, out-of-pocket healthcare expenses in the coming year.
Of course, you want to consistently engage with all employees during Open Enrollment, but paying special attention to millennials can have a great impact on enrollment. Do you have other tips for communicating with this demographic? We’d love to hear them.