Which generation has become the nation's largest living generation by population? Baby boomers? Generation X? Nope. The millennials—aka Generation Y—are projected to number more than 75 million this year, according to Pew Research.
They’re the young professionals of today. In fact, more than 1 in 3 American workers in 2015 is a millennial, ranging in age from 18 to 34. That means millennials have the largest share in the country's workforce, and as more finish college and enter the working world, the number will only increase.
That's a big deal for employers—or it should be—and here's why.
Every generation through the ages has a unique set of characteristics — and its own expectations. Millennials are no different, which is why it's important for employers to know more about this group and, most importantly, how to recruit them.
Traditionally, a company's employee benefits package serves as one key way to appeal to job candidates. Millennials, however, have a different range of criteria than other age groups. And they’re not necessarily swept off their feet by a typical employee benefits package.
Just under half of all millennials consider their overall benefits package to be very important for their job satisfaction, according to research by the Society for Human Resource Management. As a result, millennials simply aren't enrolling in benefits with the same frequency as other groups.
Just a note about making generalizations—clearly not every person labeled as a millennial will feel exactly the same. Still, as a broker, there are some things you can do to help your clients create a millennial-approved benefits package.
Typically, if you ask a millennial what matters most when it comes to employee benefits, you’re likely to hear answers like this:
1) Choice and Variety
Millennials are accustomed to having access to what they want when they want, especially when it comes to information. They want choices and are often offended by a one-size-fits-all approach. Overall, they look for a well-rounded array of benefits, which may mean that a mix of employer-paid products with supplemental and voluntary products will play an increasingly important role for many employers.
2) Customization and Control
Personalization is highly important to millennials. When they’re offered benefits, they expect those benefits to be tailored to their needs. And, they want control over how they spend their money. While giving them plenty of options puts them in the driver's seat, too many options may paralyze them. Try to strike a healthy balance by considering a choice of plan designs within a product category, or perhaps core/buy-up options.
3) True Simplicity
Employee benefits shouldn't be complicated, and communication is the key. Millennials are looking for clear, easy-to-follow steps, which includes systems that are easy to use. It will be to your advantage to recommend working with a carrier who embraces simplicity and offers varying enrollment strategies. This gives you flexibility in recommending the one that's likely to be most effective.
4) Interaction and Collaboration
Social is the name of the game for the millennial generation. Peer networks play a huge role in decision-making. Employers would be wise to offer ways their employees can interact and network to get information. Blogs are an important way millennials build trust, gather information and connect. Promote them with your clients. They work.
5) Technology, not Paper
Clearly, the biggest difference between millennials and other generations is their use of technology—and their expectation that technology also be important to others with whom they interact. They want to use tools that make benefits easier, such as apps and online portals. And they want alternatives to paper. They trust technology.
Embrace these concepts and you’ll appeal to millennials. Additionally, your clients will appreciate your assistance in their recruiting and retention efforts. Lastly, I encourage you to continue to learn more about this growing generation of workers. It will serve you well as you reach out to clients who want to build a stronger connection with this powerful generation.