Implementation and Administration

Take the "OMG" Out of OE for Millennial and Gen Z Employees

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Two segments of today’s workforce could bring a whole new dynamic to your organization – both right now and in the future: Millennials currently represent 35% of the workforce and by 2025, Generation Z workers will make up 27% of the workforce. 

However, what these generations offer in fresh perspectives they may lack in knowledge about their employee benefits. When it comes to communicating benefits to these emerging groups, as well as maximizing their open enrollment experience, you may have your work cut out for you.

The mystery behind employee benefits

As they get acclimated to the company’s culture and to receiving a regular paycheck, new-to-the-workforce employees could have several never-considered questions churning in their minds. These may range from “What's a co-pay?” to “How do I use short-term disability?” and “Who pays for my benefits and how are they paid for?” to “Is my employer supposed to help me with my benefit selections?”

Keep in mind that Gen Zers, for example, may have only worked hourly positions before their first salaried job and thus weren't eligible for any benefits. Plus, they may still be under some of their  parents’ benefits (such as health insurance) and never had to fully contemplate the need for (or costs of) the benefits they had.

Maddie Topliff, a member of Gen Z from Des Moines, IA, reflects on her initial entry into the full-time workforce:

“It's safe to assume we know nothing – at all. I sent my parents the benefits snapshot multiple times before even accepting my position because I didn't know what anything meant.”

5 ways to educate and engage employees during OE – and beyond

Employee benefits communication is no easy feat. In fact, 52% of American employers have challenges communicating about benefit choices. It’s even harder to get the attention of members of these two seriously tech-savvy generations who want more digestible content, interactive mediums and immediate feedback.

From an employee perspective, open enrollment is the one chance to take some time and really evaluate the cost and value of both their core and voluntary benefits. But for newer employees, this time of year may feel overwhelming, unfamiliar and confusing.

But this is your opportunity to help them make the most informed benefit decisions possible. Here are five ways you can educate and engage employees:

1. Don’t wait until open enrollment to start benefit education.

Start communicating at onboarding and make it a year-round process. Sending out a deluge of communication during open enrollment may create a flood of questions from employees, with less time to respond.

2. Have benefit experts available.

They can explain how and when to use certain benefits, as well as help employees understand the advantages of participating in certain programs, like a health savings account. They can also educate employees on more complicated terms and processes such as “out of pocket expenses,” "deductibles” and “co-pays.”

3. Provide easy-to-use tools.

Consider polling your millennial and Gen Z employees to get their take on preferred benefit offerings. Or provide an interactive tool to help them compare the costs and benefits of plans and services. Calculators can also help employees picture what their paycheck will look like with benefits deducted. Newer employees need to know how they pay for benefits – and the impact on their cost of living.

4. Design the enrollment portal to be easy to access and navigate.

Make their critical “point of decision” as pain-free and seamless as possible. Detours or delays in this decision-making process may lead them to pick the wrong coverage for their needs or worse yet – not select a benefit option at all.

5. Reinforce informed choices and a long-term outlook.

When it comes to selecting benefits, younger generations may not see the need to save aggressively now for retirement because they haven’t learned about the power of compounding interest. Nor may they completely comprehend that choosing a lower-premium option may result in higher out-of-pocket costs.

Millennials and Gen Zers bring an exciting and fresh perspective to the workplace. Reward them by delivering an open enrollment experience that helps them gain confidence in their decisions and in the long run, makes them more satisfied with the employee benefits you offer.   

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