Murdock, G. (2019), "Reaching millennials: changing up benefits communication to meet the largest working generation", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 36-37. https://doi.org/10.1108/SHR-02-2019-154Download as .RIS
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Millennials have officially taken over as the largest generation (Pew Research Center, 2018) in the USA labor force, and they are making their presence known. From prioritizing work/life balance (Inc, 2018) to advocating for more diversity in the workplace (Deloitte, 2018), millennials have already had a major impact on the way we work – and they are not done yet.
Born between 1981 and 1996, most millennials are now on their own when it comes to health benefits, with all but the youngest of the generation still eligible to be on their parents’ health plans. As millennials have begun managing, and paying for, their own health care, it has become clear that – despite their reputation as poor savers – millennials are more cost-conscious (Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2018) than perhaps perceived. This is especially true when it comes to health care. In fact, 66 per cent of millennials (Televox, 2017) research health-care providers before selecting one, and millennials are the generation most likely to ask for a discount (Becker’s Hospital Review, 2015), cheaper treatment option, request a price check or appeal an insurance decision.
While millennials are hungry for information about health-care savings opportunities, they expect that information to be readily available and easily accessible. Having grown up in a world where companies like Netflix and Uber have made services and information available in real-time, millennials want personalized, digestible content when it comes to their health-care options.
To effectively attract and retain millennial talent, HR and benefits teams must meet millennials where and how they are most likely to consume information. Here are a few tips for how to do this:
Personalize education and enrollment
Nearly 75 per cent of millennials (Collective Health, 2016) have reported that they are often confused about the benefits options available to them. Employers must provide easily accessible information and education not only on plan types and options, but also on common health-care terms and systems. Doing so will help millennial employees make better decisions when it comes to choosing – and using – their plans.
While millennials are more likely than other generations to seek out information related to their health plans, when that seeking turns into an hours-long research project, millennials – like any age group – are likely to give up and choose plans that do not cover their needs or unnecessarily drive up spend for both the individual and their employer.
To get ahead of this, employers should proactively engage their millennial employees, providing personalized guidance and materials that will help them make the right decision. In addition, while employers can use technology to reinforce benefits information – sending text reminders about open enrollment and hosting webinars about new plan options – it is critical that employers also offer one-to-one conversations.
These discussions are opportunities for millennial employees to ask specific questions based on their family histories and potential life changes – like marriage and children – that could affect their health insurance needs. By arming millennial employees with personalized information, employers can help them make smart decisions about their coverage, ensuring they are protected and not overpaying.
While we know that many millennials are cost-conscious, the nature of the health-care industry – where prices are often unknown until after a procedure or treatment has been provided – makes it difficult for consumers to make informed decisions. In fact, many consumers do not realize that medical products, procedures and services do not come at a fixed price – the same treatment can vary by thousands of dollars between providers.
Employers should take steps to encourage employees to most effectively use their plans. Many millennial employees do not know to compare treatment costs – and if they know they should, they do not know how. By showcasing the significant cost discrepancies between providers for the same procedure, employers can explain why it is so important to pursue in-network treatment, ask for second opinions and compare costs between providers. As a result, employers will reduce spending for their millennial employees and likely reduce health-care costs for their organizations.
By educating millennials, employers ensure that they are providing the best possible coverage to their largest group of employees, while managing internal costs, a win-win for all involved parties.
Becker’s Hospital Review (2015), available at: Thenewhospitalbill:7thingsconsumerswant (accessed 12 May 2015).
Collective Health (2016), available at: Peoplelovetheirhealthbenefits.Butdotheyunderstandthem?
Deloitte (2018), available at: TheDeloitteMillennialSurvey2018 (accessed 22 January 2018).
Employee Benefit Research Institute (2018), available at: ConsumerEngagementinHealthCareAmongMillennials,BabyBoomers,andGenerationX:Findingsfromthe2017ConsumerEngagementinHealthCareSurvey (accessed 5 March 2018).
Inc (2018), available at: ThisIsWhyMillennialsCaresoMuchAboutWork-LifeBalance (accessed 8 January 2018.)
Pew Research Center (2018), available at: MillennialsarethelargestgenerationintheUSlaborforce (accessed 11 April 2018).
Televox (2017), available at: PrioritizingthePatientExperience (accessed June 2017).
About the author
Gil Murdock is SVP of National Accounts at Chief Revenue Office, DirectPath, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.