Benefits Enrollment for Millennials: Educating Generation Y

Young people are not generally known for their long-term planning skills, and you might think that benefits enrollment would be one of the last things on the minds of millennials as they apply for jobs. But don't write off Generation Y as careless just yet, as benefits packages have been shown to be a major factor in where young people choose to work, according to a recent article from Forbes. The source pointed out that while benefits plans mattered in the employment paths of 23 percent of the 1,200 employees in Metlife's 2012 U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, that number rose to 43 percent in 2013. Despite stereotypes about oblivious young people mooching off their parents' insurance until they are unceremoniously left on their own, this generation is taking the matter seriously.

Why millennials care about benefits

You're probably asking yourself why Generation Y is getting so worked up about locking down benefits when they have Facebook statuses to update, Xbox games to play and urgent Snapchats to send. Along with being perhaps the most distracted generation to ever come along, millennials are also highly informed, not to mention under a lot of pressure thanks to student loans and the looming threat of Social Security running dry by the time they'll be needing it most. Forbes mentioned that young workers will expect to work well past the age that their parents were able to retire, adding another dimension to the importance of a secure job with quality benefits for when things get more complicated down the line.

At the recent Health Benefits Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, Forbes contributor Alyson Kreuger spoke with Cindi Van Meir, a product manager for Benefitfocus​, who explained that millennials have much better financial responsibility than they are typically given credit for. Now that the population of Generation Y is spilling over 80 million, your organization will have to meet the benefits enrollment expectations of the legions of young people that will surely flood your offices soon enough, if they haven't already. According to the source, much of these demands hinge on whether your organization offers a sufficient range of choices in terms of coverage, as millennials generally have a clear idea of what they're after.

"A lot of times, the millennials, the first thing they ask prospective employers after their pay is what will their benefits be," Van Meir told Krueger. "They want to know about their 401K and what type of accounts their employers offer. Millennials are very savvy consumers. They are not afraid to take their time to compare plans and make the choice that is best for them."

Assistance is still necessary

While younger employees may be eager to enter the workforce and lock down the plan that gives them peace of mind, realize that you'll need to provide a bit of guidance to ensure your millennial employees can navigate the benefits enrollment landscape and know what it takes to complete the processes correctly. According to LifeHealthPro, you should encourage your Generation Y'ers to explore coverage options that may not cross their minds at first, even if these require a bit of extra money out of their paychecks.

"Millennial employees may think they are invincible to a disabling condition, and therefore many of them may not understand the need for disability coverage - especially coverage they need to pay for out of pocket," Alison Daily, second vice president of clinical and vocational services at The Standard, told the source. "A long-term disability can negatively impact not only their personal finances, but their employers' bottom line as well."

As more millennials fill roles at your organization, you need to make sure they are comfortable and happy with their jobs to live up to their great potential. Start with offering an easy, reliable way to approach benefits enrollment and it will pay off in the long run.