Right Mix of Benefits Crucial to Hiring, Retaining Millennials

As the millennial generation continues filtering into the workforce amid a tightening job market, nearly one-third of them have turned down a job offer because of poor insurance offerings, a new study has found.

Making sure that you have the right mix of benefits, including voluntary benefits, is important considering that other studies have found that millennials are already hard to keep on the payroll. This has been underscored by studies that found that one in four millennials were considering looking for new work in the next year. In addition, they are more cautious than boomers or Gen Xers in choosing their financial portfolios and more focused on planning for their long-term future. Millennials even value health insurance almost as much as older adults do – despite the fact that they’re much less likely to use it.

Having seen the hardships the recession had on their families and/or their friends’ families, they are more likely to watch their wallets and are more inclined to start saving for retirement at an earlier age. Also, many of them are saddled with levels of student loan debt that are much higher than previous generations. These factors all add up to a generational shift towards more financial security through improved benefits.

Here are some of the most telling findings of the study by Anthem Inc.:

  • 27% of 18- to 34-year-olds said they’d rejected a job because of poor benefits, or a lack of them.
  • 29% of 18- to 34-year-olds had engaged in long-term financial planning over the past year. That’s compared with 19% of 35- to 54-year-olds. Besides 401(k) plans, that means millennial workers are also more apt to take up disability insurance which protects their income if they are unable to work because of injury or illness.
  • Of survey respondents who did not have disability insurance, 53% said they didn’t have it because their employer did not offer it. Another 32% said they didn’t have disability insurance because it was too expensive.

Earlier study had similar findings

Towers Watson’s “Global Benefits Attitudes Survey” found that 59% of millennials were willing to sacrifice higher pay for a guaranteed retirement benefit, while 32% said they were also willing to pay a higher amount for a lower or more predictable health cost.

When asked how they would spend money if their employer provided them with an allowance to spend on a variety of benefits, millennials said they would allocate more than half to health care and retirement plan benefits (27% each).

The takeaway

As an employer in a tight job market, you will need to ensure that you have a good mix of health, retirement and voluntary benefits that can give your employees peace of mind that they can meet their obligations even if they get sick.

Millennials, because of their financial situation, are concerned over how to make ends meet, but they also recognize they have long-term financial risks as well, and many agree with having their employer play an active role in encouraging them to better manage their finances. This puts you, the employer, in a unique position to help them shape their benefits package for the long run, with a plan towards the future. That means offering a solid health insurance benefits package, a 401(k) plan so they can start early saving for retirement, and voluntary benefits like critical-care coverage or disability insurance that can protect their finances in case of a catastrophic event.