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Post COVID 19 Strategy – What Millennials Want From Benefits

As an employer when you provide employee benefits to your workforce you likely have several goals you’re trying to achieve. Often, those goals involve: supporting the health and well being of employees, attracting and retaining talent, and increasing productivity. One of the most important factors in achieving those goals is to understand the age and demographics of your workforce.

Who are Millennials?

The term “millennial” generally refers to people born in the 1980s and 1990s. The earliest of the millennial demographic reached adulthood near the year 2000. Many in this demographic were the children of baby boomers, so there was a mini “boom” in births.

Today millennials now make up a third of the workforce. This generation is known to be confident and not afraid to seek out change in order to better their career and lifestyle.

Workplace Benefits and Millennials

Considering that millennials make up such a large portion of the workforce, it makes sense to look at what the typical millennial wants from an employee benefit plan.

  1. Flexible Choices

This demographic appreciates having choice and flexibility in how their benefit dollars are spent. The “one size fits all” approach to employee benefits likely won’t win over your millennial workforce. Because the generation spans a 20-year age difference, their family and marital situations are likely unique and equate to another reason why choice and flexibility are important to them.

Health and lifestyle spending accounts are a popular workplace benefit that allows the employee a choice in how their benefits dollars are spent. Other ways to provide flexibility include providing coverage maximums that are shared between multiple services. For example, consider combined paramedical coverage as opposed to a per practitioner maximum – i.e. a plan that can be used on massage therapy, physiotherapy, chiropractic, or others. This allows the plan member some choice in using the plan to get the most benefit for their situation.

  1. Support for Mental Health

Millennials have been large advocates of recognizing the importance of mental health. As a result, they value workplace benefits that include resources to support mental well being.

One way to provide this type of support is to offer access to an Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EFAP). Many EFAPs include 24/7 access to counselling; this is a great way to support the mental health of plan members. EFAPs that provide online access to articles and podcasts related to mental health are also a good tool.

Having an inclusive company culture that has procedures and training can also provide the mental health support that this generation values.

  1. Virtual Healthcare

With the growth of the use of smartphones and member’s internet capabilities, millennials are accustomed to having information and resources available at their fingertips. Virtual healthcare is the perfect addition to a benefits plan for this tech-savvy generation.

Virtual healthcare allows plan members to connect with healthcare professionals online. Using a phone, tablet or computer to video chat, patients are able to get the medical attention they need, without having to travel a clinic. In many situations, virtual healthcare professionals can:

  • remotely diagnose health conditions
  • prescribe medications
  • order tests
  • make referrals to specialists

For millennials, who are already comfortable with technology, virtual healthcare is convenient and efficient. The ROI for organizations – the cost of virtual health versus the lost staff time from the job visiting or taking children to doctors, clinics, and the effect of timely diagnosis versus delays in getting that diagnosis – has already been proven.

  1. Wellness

Most millennials are mindful of the importance of achieving and maintaining better health. They recognize that diet, exercise, fitness, and mental wellness are all important parts of being healthy. As such, millennials value wellness as part of an employee benefit plan.

This could mean offering wellness spending accounts, gym subsidies, or other online resources to promote good health. Fitness tracker apps or rewards for achieving fitness goals are valued by this generation.

  1. Attracting and Retaining Millennials

Millennials value employee benefits. Many say that the employee benefits offered by a prospective company play a significant role in their decision to accept a job offer. This highlights the importance of reviewing and revising employee benefits offerings. Employers should work with their benefits consultants to ensure their plan is competitive.

Another consideration is retention. As with generations that have come before them, millennials have a unique mindset. It was not unusual for previous generations to work for one or two companies for their entire career; whereas millennials are not afraid to change employers. They’re willing to move employers for better benefits, better pay, or better perks.

Employers who are successful in attracting and retaining millennials must do several things. They must:

  • provide a benefit plan that meets non-traditional needs
  • regularly review benefit offerings to ensure they’re competitive
  • be willing to try new and innovative offerings

Employers should not formally survey the workforce to ask what they want. This sets up unrealistic expectations. Employers should tweak benefit offerings based on the results of what they have and what their competitors offer. But this does not mean they should not listen to what informal conversations on the subject tell them. By trial and error, and providing flexibility, employers can provide the most value to their employees and therefore, using their benefits plan as a retention strategy.



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