With 56 million working or looking for work, millennials have officially surpassed baby boomers as the largest working generation. Those born between 1981 and 1996 now represent 35 percent of the labor force, compared to the 25 percent made up by those born during the postwar boom of 1946 to 1964.
As boomers continue to retire, millennials' share will only continue to grow, so in order to stay competitive, employers have begun offering employee benefit packages designed specifically to appeal to the values of younger workers.
Changing attitudes towards healthcare
One of the most significant ways in which millennials differ from their boomer counterparts is in their collective views on health care.
By and large, while boomers still favor the traditional method of going to a family doctor, millennials' preference for flexibility, speed of service and price transparency has led them to eschew the old-fashioned model of office-based primary care.
According to a national Kaiser Family Foundation poll, a full 45 percent of 18- to 29-year-old respondents said they had no primary care provider[lol yep, this is me.], compared to just 18 percent of those ages 50 to 64.
The generational shift is being driven by the types of young individuals who find an urgent care visit cheaper and more convenient than scheduling an appointment at a doctor's office. Fortunately, companies have ways of accommodating these new trends.
Health Savings Accounts
The Health Savings Account has become an increasingly popular staple of benefits packages, and one for which many younger workers have developed an appreciation. One obvious perk is convenience, as the process makes employee contributions easier. HSAs can also be made more enticing with the bonus of a corporate matching program, similar to an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, which companies can deduct as a business expense.
As the name implies, there are also some great savings involved with such a plan. All employee contributions to an HSA are fully tax deductible, all interest earnings up to the legal limit accumulate tax-deferred and all withdrawals used to pay for qualified medical expenses are never taxed.
Having a tax-free piggy bank to draw from when making à la carte healthcare purchases is a good fit for the millennial lifestyle.
"We see many millennials starting their HSA contributions early in their careers; they will have thousands of dollars in their accounts by the time they're middle-aged and start needing more medical services," Triton CEO Steve Rosenthal recently told New Jersey Business Magazine.
Telemedicine Mobile Healthcare
Triton's new mobile healthcare app Telemedicine was designed with millennials in mind.
A digital solution that's even quicker than an urgent care visit, Telemedicine is a national network of U.S. board-certified physicians and pediatricians that can be remotely accessed via a smartphone or other mobile device. The app provides on-demand, 24/7 medical care for routine medical issues in the form of video consultations that users can conduct via the app, whenever and wherever they choose to do so.
"Millennials expect the convenience that comes with a mobile app," says Rosenthal, "such as a new one we offer that allows them to self-diagnose the flu, for example. Then, instead of getting out of bed, they can search for a pharmacy that delivers what they need. From an employer perspective, this service also reduces claims costs and helps mitigate rate increases."
A generation that is used to reading reviews and comparing multiple items online before placing one in their digital shopping cart expects to have plenty of choices to pick from.
"It's no longer enough for companies to provide a single plan in which eligible employees must enroll," Rosenthal explains. "Millennials want to pick and choose the items included in their benefits programs – and it's up to employers to design packages that provide these multiple choices."
In catering to a generation that likes to keep its options open, many employers have turned to support tools such as Healthcare Bluebook, which Rosenthal describes as "TripAdvisor for healthcare." The mobile app allows users to easily search for local providers and compare both the costs and quality rankings of each option.
Student Loan Assistance
Many recent graduates – and even some not-so-recent grads – are still struggling to pay off the thousands of dollars of student debt they racked up in college. Obviously, high salaries, bonuses and opportunities for advancement will appeal to these workers, but employers can make an even more explicit pitch to millennials by offering student loan assistance programs.
Forbes recently named student loan repayment the hottest employee benefit of 2018, citing several companies that offer up to $2,000 per year in matching student loan payments as examples of this growing trend.
Considering that graduates of the Class of 2017 owe on average nearly $40,000 in student loan debt, and that those numbers have only continued to rise, it's easy to see why this benefit will continue to strike a chord with millennials.
One major plus for employers is that many of the perks that are most prized by workers aged 22 to 37 won't cost them any money.
Millennials value some non-monetary benefits as much or more than traditional compensation, especially when it comes to the area of autonomy. Younger workers want the ability to be independent, which can be granted to them in the form of flexible office hours and the option to work from home.
Anticipating Generation Z
Many of the lessons employers have learned about millennials will also be applicable to Generation Z, the generation born between 1997 and 2015 that is projected to become the largest workforce ever by the year 2025.
These digital natives who grew up with smartphones are expected to share millennials' preference for convenient apps and online solutions, only more so. Concerns over student debt and a demand for options are also likely to carryover.
Experts say that Gen Z employees are also already asking for more modern benefits such as tuition assistance, corporate laptops, onsite or subsidized daycare and pet insurance.
Finding ways to appeal to the millennials now dominating the workforce and the Generation Z workers just around the corner, while still satisfying the desires of older employees, can prove challenging. For help handling the complications of benefits administration, connect with the experts at Triton Benefits and HR Solutions today!