A word for employers: Better insurance policies might not be the best lever to motivate the millennial generation.
According to the “Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey,” a new study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, millennials aren’t as enthused about workplace benefits as older generations.
Millennials, defined as the generation born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, are less likely than baby boomers or Generation X to list health insurance as the most important benefit they receive at work, but more likely to value life insurance and paid time off than older generations.
The differences aren’t stark: 67 percent of boomers say health insurance is their most important workplace benefit, while 60 percent of millennials say the same. On the other hand, 12 percent of millennials say paid time off is their most important benefit, compared with 6 percent of boomers.
Millennials are also less likely than boomers or Generation X to report that employee benefits are important factors in their decision to accept jobs. They are instead more open to non-traditional ways of obtaining benefits. While fewer than one-third of millennials told surveyors that benefits are extremely important, 41 percent of boomers and 39 percent of Gen Xers emphasized employer benefits.
Millennials are more open to seeking benefits from entities other than their employers. The authors of the EBRI survey cite a 2014 Pew Research Center study that found millennials are more detached from traditional institutions than baby boomers or Generation X. According to Pew's survey, millennials are more politically and religiously unaffiliated, less trusting and less likely to be married than older generations.
Millennials are also more likely to admit that they do not know about their benefits than other workers; however, they are also more likely to feel confident in their ability to make informed benefits decisions.
In fact, EBRI’s research found that millennials are more likely to want the money that would otherwise be spent on their benefits to be paid directly to them so they could decide for themselves whether to purchase benefits and how much to pay.
The institute surveyed 1,500 U.S. workers between the ages of 21 and 64 in June 2015.