At Open Enrollment, Millennials Value Financial Security and Workplace Flexibility

By Stephen Miller, CEBS Oct 12, 2016

As open enrollment approaches and benefits choices become a focus at workplaces across the country, a survey has found that retirement and core health care benefits are important to Millennials, as are flexible work arrangements. 

Millennials, who are now the largest generation in the workforce, and soon will be an absolute majority, also are looking for employers looking for them to connect with financial planning resources.

Consultancy Willis Towers Watson's 2015/2016 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey found that:

  • Almost half of Millennials (48 percent) ranked pay and bonus above all other benefits, an indication of the financial challenges they face.

  • When asked how they would spend money if their employer provided them with an allowance to select among a variety of benefits, Millennials said they would allocate more than half the amount to health care and retirement plan benefits (27 percent each).

  • Faced with mounting worries over their finances and retirement outlook, 6 in 10 Millennials (59 percent) are willing to pay a higher amount for a guaranteed retirement benefit, such as a guaranteed income stream. That figure is up from 42 percent in 2009.

"Employees of all generations, including Millennials, are feeling vulnerable about their long-term security," said Steve Nyce, a senior economist at Willis Towers Watson. "Employees young and old actually have a strong desire for more retirement security and are willing to give up pay to get more guarantees or a larger retirement benefit."

"Millennials, because of their financial situation, are concerned over how to help make ends meet," added Shane Bartling, a senior consultant at the Arlington, Va.-based firm. "But Millennials also recognize they have long-term financial risks as well, and many agree with having their employer play an active role in encouraging them to better manage their finances. For employers, this is a good opportunity to help their employees make smart financial decisions at pivotal moments through the use of personalized budgeting and income-projection tools."

Workflex Ranks High

Millennials are also much more likely to embrace nontraditional benefits and work/life balance than Baby Boomers. Nearly one-third of Millennials (32 percent) ranked more paid time off, greater opportunities for flexible work arrangements and career advancement, and options to purchase a wider variety of benefits as top priorities. That's more than double the percentage of Boomers who want these benefits.

A total of 5,083 workers from the U.S. participated in the survey, conducted at the end of last year.

Related SHRM Article:

Millennials Expect Raises, Promotions More Often than Older Generations, SHRM Online Talent Acquisition, February 2015

Related SHRM Resource:

Guide to Benefits Open Enrollment Season, SHRM Online Benefits, September 2016


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