What employers need to know about benefits for millennials

Andrew McNeil is principal at Petaluma-based Arrow Benefits Group. (Arrow Benefits Group)

GUEST COMMENTARY ANDREW MCNEIL, GUEST COMMENTARY BY ANDREW MCNEIL

Like every generation, millennials have their own brand of thinking when it comes to living and working in our world.

Many have an innate sense of trust in traditional parental and/or academic leaders, often looking to them for guidance and to be safeguarded by them. Similarly they seek this kind of reassurance and direction from employers and their benefits. While other generations might consider employer driven advice too intrusive, millennials have grown to expect that others have their best interest at heart and often want that input.

There is no limit to the number of what-ifs we face on a daily basis. General health benefits are believed to protect the employee in the event of a sudden broken leg or an extended hospital stay, but will it really? What happens if that broken leg is keeping the employee from working for an undetermined amount of time? What about identity theft, heart attack or cancer? Finding an employer who will provide them with the peace of mind in knowing that they will be financially protected, should one of those events happen, is crucial and of big importance to the millennial generation.

When considering employee benefits that will appeal to millennials — you need to think like one. A Met Life survey shows millennials are more likely to work for a company based on the offered benefits package, rather than just a higher starting salary. In fact, over 50 percent of millennials agree that benefits are the driving factor in choosing a specific employer, with an even higher percentage (beyond any other generation in the workforce) staying with that employer due to those benefits. As a result, millennials tend to worry less about unexpected health and financial issues because of benefits that are provided by their employer.

Generationally speaking, the impact of the same benefits package can vary greatly from employee to employee despite being within the same company. Gen Xers are more empowered by choice when it comes to company offerings, like voluntary benefits, while boomers tend to have an indifference to them. Millennials, on the other hand, have a higher interest in such benefits, as they want the protection and certainty that comes from a comprehensive package that offers the most protection and a minimum amount of worry.

A technology cautionary tale — contrary to popular belief, while millennials are certainly attracted to technology — I’ve seen more reliance than you would expect on support services and employee advocacy resources rather than just self-service technology to navigate their benefits packages.

Again, trust plays a large role in the thinking process. While our industry has adapted to being more tech-savvy by offering employee web portals and mobile applications, there hasn’t been a drop in the need for the human experience. Asking the question: who’s on the other end of my app anyway?

So if you want to speak “millennial,” worry for them. When asked, seven out of 10 said having comprehensive health packages is vital and well worth the cost. Be proactive in thinking of every aspect of their needs and understand that they want a sense of support on the other end of the line.

Andrew McNeil (707-992-3789, AndrewM@arrowbenefitsgroup.com) is a principal with Arrow Benefits Group in Petaluma.