Change the focus when talking benefits with millennial workers

3 minute read

Has there ever been an era without a generation gap? Probably not:
Each generation of older workers laments the lack of initiative and work
ethic of the following – and they put an exclamation point on it with
tales about walking five miles a day to school or rising well before
dawn to deliver newspapers.

The truth is that most of today’s youngest workers – members of the
millennial generation – aren’t lacking in motivation. They’ve simply
come of age in a time of economic strife. Millennials have learned from
experience that it’s not always easy to find a find job, let alone the
“right” job. What’s more, seeing their hard-working parents laid off by
companies that are cost-cutting and downsizing has led to a
not-so-surprising distrust of employers.

Businesses must make an effort to adjust and adapt to the millennial
mindset. After all, this independent-minded generation currently makes
up 36 percent of the workforce and the percentage is expected to reach
75 in the next 10 years.Put
simply, companies that have long focused on the wants and needs of baby
boomers must turn their attention to younger workers who have very
different ideas and expectations.

Good times threatened by money woes

Here’s one way millennials differ from their parents: They’ve decided
that life should be about good times. According to a report from
Mindshare, 72 percent of millennials believe life is too short to be
uptight and 71 percent consider having fun a core part of their lives.

Still, despite their dedication to merrymaking, millennials’ lives
are often clouded by financial responsibilities. According to a Wells
Fargo survey, 40 percent describe their debt as overwhelming, compared
to 23 percent of baby boomers. When asked to quantify debt as a
percentage of their monthly pay, millennials broke down their financial
burdens this way: credit card debt, 16 percent; mortgage debt, 15
percent; student loan debt, 12 percent; auto debt, 9 percent; and
medical debt, 5 percent. What’s more, 47 percent of millennials devote
50 percent or more of their paychecks to ongoing payments.

Financial independence, not retirement

Today’s companies – and financial experts too – often miss the boat
when it comes to advising millennials about benefits strategies. Much of
their communication focuses on setting aside funds for retirement,
which is a key issue for baby boomers. However, millennials are less
interested in planning for retirement than in planning for financial
independence.

Unlike their parents and grandparents, most millennials don’t aspire
to retire in their 60s. Instead, they’d like to say goodbye to
conventional employment as quickly as possible, and many are willing to
work side jobs or even invest 50 percent or more of their income to do
so. As Alan Moore, co-founder of the XY Planning Network, wrote in a
recent issue of Money magazine: Millennials “don’t need $1 million to $3
million in the bank when they’re 63 years old. Instead, they may need
to reach an investment goal of $250,000 or $500,000 in assets before
they can start withdrawing 3 to 4 percent, because along with other
income streams this is enough to cover their expenses each year for
life.”

It’s worth noting that job-changing is fast and furious in the early
years of millennials’ careers: Young adults born in the early 80s held
an average of 6.2 jobs between the ages of 18 and 26 and 57 percent of
those jobs lasted less than a year.

The benefits equation

Given that millennials are both financially strapped and eager to achieve financial independence, where do benefits fit in?

Their often-crushing debt loads, combined with their commitment to
enjoying life, make many young workers hesitant to enroll in benefits
that shrink their paychecks. That’s evidenced by the fact that
millennials comprise our nation’s most underinsured generation: 24
percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 don’t have health insurance. And it’s
not just health insurance they’re rejecting, because millennials are
the least likely of any age group to have any type of insurance,
including auto, renters, homeowners, life and disability coverage.

To find out the answers on how to talk to millenials about these issues, see the rest of this article here.

And get more health insurance information at aflac.com/healthcarereform.