Gen Y more likely to rely on family, friends for benefits information

While most employees depend on the workplace as their main source of benefits information, Generation Y workers are more likely to rely on family members and friends as informants, according to a new survey commissioned by Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company and conducted by Harris Interactive.

"While we expected the workplace to be the primary source of benefits information for employees, we were surprised to learn that Gen Y workers rely more on family and friends for this information than their older colleagues do," says Stephen Bygott, assistant vice president of marketing analysis and programs for Colonial Life.

Of the Generation Y respondents, the survey shows that 51 percent of those participating in insurance plans say the workplace is a primary source of benefits information, compared to 69 percent of those ages 34 to 44, 75 percent of those ages 45 to 54 and 71 percent of those over the age of 55. When it comes to relying on family and friends, 40 percent of Generation Y workers are much more likely to compared to 29 percent of those ages 35 to 44, 16 percent of those ages 45 to 54, and 12 percent of those over the age of 55.

The survey also finds 50 percent of Generation Y workers are less likely to depend on online resources than those ages 45 to 54 at 63 percent.

"Despite their reputation for being constantly wired, Gen Y is less likely to rely on insurance company and consumer advice websites than any other age group of workers," Bygott says. "And they're no more likely to rely on online forums or blogs than anyone else. But Gen Y has different needs, expectations and preferences than previous generations, so companies need to take a different approach when it comes to designing and communicating their benefits packages. Those who don't consider changes could risk losing their competitive edge and may be left behind."

Generation Y workers are more optimistic about future coverage, with 45 percent of respondents saying most companies will still offer the same types of work benefits over the next five years. This is much less than other age groups at 19 percent of those 35 to 44, 17 percent of those 45 to 54 and 16 percent of those over the age of 55.

However, Generation Y workers are less confident regarding their retirement funds. In fact, only one third of respondents believe government programs will be available by the time they hit retirement. They are also more pessimistic about the availability of company-sponsored pension plans  at 24 percent of Generation Y workers, compared to 34 percent of those ages 35 to 44, 37 percent of those ages 45 to 54 and 50 percent of those over the age of 55.

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