Millennials are by far the most confident about their ability to make the right benefit decisions, but they may be the most uninsured generation, according to a new report.
The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, reports that 96% of Millennials feel “highly confident” about their ability to make the right benefit decisions. This compares with 66% of Gen Xers and 64% of Baby Boomers.
Additionally, nearly 80% of employees spend less than a total of two hours evaluating their insurance benefits options, including group medical, dental, life and disability insurance.
Only 32% of all employees described their approach to open enrollment as one that incorporates a “careful review” of their benefits details and options. Millennials are more likely than their older co-workers to say they carefully enrolled in available benefits options (50% vs. 30% of Gen Xers and 31% of Baby Boomers).
But the Guaredian report indicates that Millennials may be underinsured. A smaller percentage of Millennials (78%) are currently enrolled in available benefits as compared to their older colleagues (92%), particularly life (48% vs. 71%) and disability insurance (53% vs. 68%).
While online benefits enrollment has become the new normal—with its use more than doubling in five years to 62%—many of the same communication and engagement challenges still persist. A majority of workers, regardless of age or life-stage, say they try to better understand their benefits options by reading their benefits materials (77%) and reviewing their prior year’s selections (66%) However, a minority reported that they have attended benefits meetings (37%), spoken with a benefits advisor (29%), used online planning tools (28%) or spoken with a carrier representative (14%) prior to enrollment.
“Most employees are not taking full advantage of available company resources to help them make informed decisions about benefits. In fact, employees’ benefits engagement and decision-making has not substantially improved with the advances in technology, despite the convenience it offers,” said Chris Swanker, Vice President, Worksite and Sponsored Markets for Guardian. “As this do-it-yourself attitude continues to prevail, it underscores the critical opportunity companies have to evaluate and alter their communication strategies to better engage and educate employees about their benefit offerings.”
While some challenges continue, the research found that online enrollment can help improve employee perceptions of employer benefits communication and education efforts. 61% of workers who used an online benefits enrollment tool and found it to be a very easy process gave top ratings to their employers’ benefits education and communication efforts, compared to 35% of others.