Young employees are more interested in worksite-based financial education topics and voluntary benefits than are their boomer counterparts, according to new research.

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, New York, published this finding in a study summarized in “Are You Listening? What Small Business Employees Want from Their Benefits, and How Employers Can Show They’ve Heard.” The 10th Annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends consists of two studies fielded by GfK Custom Research North America: an employer survey comprised 1,519 interviews with benefits decision-makers at companies with staff sizes of at least two employees; and an employee survey comprising 1,412 interviews with full-time employees age 21 and over, at companies with a minimum of two employees.

When asked about their interest in various financial topics and forum, more young workers than boomers chose online tools (66% versus 52%), a financial advisor sponsored by my employer (59% versus 41%) and financial planning/retirement webinars via the Internet (53% versus 40%). MetLife also observed a gap between the two groups in respect to financial planning/retirement in-person seminars (50% versus 38%) and advice and guidance from an expert via telephone (42% versus 31%).

More than 7 in 10 young workers say they want a greater variety of benefits to choose from (74%), more personalized benefits geared to different employee circumstances (72%) and more personalized benefits geared toward different age groups (71%). These figures compare with 64%, 64% and 66%, respectively, of boomers.

The survey notes that also that 66% of young workers and 53% of boomers would rather pay for benefits than lose them.

More young workers than boomers also expressed an interest in purchasing voluntary products, including life insurance (41% versus 29%), critical illness insurance (38% versus 29%) and disability income insurance (40% versus 29%). By comparison, smaller percentages of companies with 2-500 employees offer these voluntary products: life insurance-20%; critical illness insurance-10%; disability income-8%.

Younger workers at smaller companies are especially likely to show the positive effects of benefits satisfaction on loyalty and retention. Younger workers who are very satisfied with benefits indicate that they are very satisfied with their jobs (71%), believe their employer has a very strong sense of loyalty (61%) and feel a strong sense of loyalty to their employer (72%). These percentages compare with 70%, 50% and 56%, respectively, of boomers who are very satisfied with their benefits.

The survey notes that small business employers overestimate employee company loyalty, a trend that MetLife has observed since 2008. In 2011, 54% of employers believed that employees have a very strong sense of loyalty to the company, but only 44% of employees felt a strong sense of loyalty.