Ninety-six percent of millennials feel “highly confident” about their benefits choices, compared to 66 percent of Generation Xers and 64 percent of baby boomers, according to research from The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, an employee benefits provider.
The survey also shows that 80 percent of respondents spend less than two hours assessing their insurance benefits options, which includes group medical, dental, life and disability insurance, and only 32 percent of all respondents believe they regard open enrollment as a “careful review” of their benefits details and options.
Although 50 percent of millennials are more likely to say they carefully enrolled in available benefits options, compared to 30 percent of Generation Xers and 31 percent of baby boomers, millennials may be underinsured, the research finds. In fact, 78 percent of millennials are enrolled in available benefits, compared to their older colleagues at 92 percent.
Although online benefits enrollment has more than doubled over the last five years to 62 percent, many traditional communication and engagement challenges continue. Seventy-seven percent of employees of all ages say they try to better comprehend their benefits options by reading their benefits materials. Another 66 percent of all employees study their prior year’s selections.
Only 37 percent of employees say they have attended benefits meetings, and 29 percent of employees have spoken with a benefits advisor. Twenty-eight percent of employees have relied on online planning tools, and 14 percent have spoken with a carrier representative before enrollment.
“Most employees are not taking full advantage of available company resources to help them make informed decisions about benefits. In fact, employees’ benefits engagement and decision-making has not substantially improved with the advances in technology, despite the convenience it offers,” says Chris Swanker, vice president of worksite and sponsored markets for Guardian. “As this do-it-yourself attitude continues to prevail, it underscores the critical opportunity companies have to evaluate and alter their communication strategies to better engage and educate employees about their benefit offerings.”
Although some challenges remain, the research reveals that online enrollment can improve employee perceptions regarding employer benefits communication and education. Sixty-one percent of workers using an online benefits enrollment tool give top ratings to their employers’ benefits education and communication strategies, as opposed to 35 percent of others.
In an effort to improve benefits communication and education efforts, Guardian recommends employers audit all current materials, communications and approaches; test their future strategies by building on successes and eliminating activities that don’t add value; and measure all new tactics and identify what success means for each.