Pile of paperwork Even in thisdigital age, workers want to review printed materials to learnabout their benefit options prior to open enrollment. (Photo:Shutterstock)

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More workers are opting for voluntary benefits, but that doesn'tmean they really know what they're buying, according to Unum's latest consumersurvey on employee benefits.

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Market research firm Dynata polled 1,512 full-time U.S. workersand found that for those who are offered voluntary benefits bytheir employer, a majority of the respondents had elected most ofthe benefits for 2019 and a majority are planning on doing so nextyear (only one voluntary benefit, critical illness insurance, had less than amajority (45 percent) who had either enrolled or are considering itfor 2020, though 52 percent of millennials are currently enrolledin the benefit.

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Related: Most employees don't 'get' voluntarybenefits

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However, when asked how well they understood each benefit, ahigher percentage of the respondents—particularly those in theyounger generations—say they do not understand most of voluntarybenefits very well. For all of the respondents, they leastunderstand short-term disability (11 percent); long-termdisability (13 percent); accident (12 percent); hospital (8percent) and critical illness (10 percent).

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"While a significant percentage of working adults say they planon enrolling in supplemental health benefits like accident,hospital and critical illness insurance, these are also some of theleast-understood workplace benefits," says Ashley Mehrer Shope,Unum's assistant vice president, product and market development."It's important that HR managers educate their workforce about thefinancial protection advantages of these types of insurance."

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When asked how much time they spend reviewing their benefitoptions prior to enrolling, half of all of the respondents say 30minutes or less. Broken down by generation, 54 percent of Gen Zerssay this; millennials (51 percent); Gen Xers (52 percent) andboomers (47 percent).

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"For the HR professional, it should be concerning that such alarge percentage of employees spend 30 minutes or less reviewingall of their benefit options before actually enrolling," Shopesays.

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Even in this digital age, workers want to review printedmaterials to learn about their benefit options prior to openenrollment, cited as the most preferred way (29 percent), followedby learning via an online source (22 percent); an advisor in agroup meeting (15 percent); an advisor in an individual meeting (14percent); mobile apps (10 percent); a video conference (4 percent);and an advisor via phone (4 percent).

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The only generation to prefer learning about benefit options viaan online source over every other way is the youngest—Gen Z. All ofthe others—millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers—cite reviewingprinted materials as their No. 1 way.

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"While many companies are going 'all digital' in how theycommunicate benefits to their workforce, reviewing printedmaterials is still the number one choice for the majority of U.S.workers," Shope says. "It's important to meet your workforce wherethey are and with various communication mediums, including printedinformation, online resources and even bringing in advisors to chatwith employees one-on-one."

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