The group benefits plan you provide your employees is a key component of their overall compensation package. However, younger staff members often lack knowledge about the value group benefits offer, leaving these benefits unappreciated and underutilized. Without proper information about their benefits plans, employees may be left feeling under-compensated or miss out on resources that could improve their overall quality of life.
Effectively communicating the value benefits plans provide, specifically for younger staff members, is not only crucial for attracting and retaining talent but leads to a happier and more productive staff. This blog will discuss the key challenges of communicating the value of group benefits plans to younger staff members and strategies to overcome them.
Why Younger Employees Devalue Benefits Plans
Healthy young employees may believe that they will never use their benefits plan and view their premium as just another paycheque deduction. While younger employees have a lower risk of developing illness or disease, it is nowhere near impossible. The unfortunate truth is that even 20-somethings can suffer from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other life-altering conditions that require expensive treatment or may require extended time off.
Younger individuals are also more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviours, increasing their chance of injury or disability. Without the financial support of a group benefits plan, these events can be even more devastating and difficult to manage. The last thing anyone needs during a health crisis is additional financial stress.
Finally, many younger employees may have never had to think about benefits before if they were previously covered by their parent’s plan or a student health plan. Because of this, they may be unaware of the health-related costs they are responsible for without a benefits plan and how high these costs can be.
Highlight the Compensation Value
Employees may be surprised to learn how much their employer pays for their benefits annually in addition to their basic earnings, be sure to highlight this information during the hiring process and yearly reviews. Along with the dollar value of benefits, be sure employees understand the qualitative value of the benefits in terms of risk avoidance and financial protection.
Don’t leave employees responsible for educating themselves. Ask your benefits advisor to organize a benefits seminar, lunch and learn, or workshop to detail the resources and coverage available to employees. Make it a habit to organize an annual review of benefits plan coverage for all staff members.
Frame Benefits Specifically for Younger Staff
You may recognize a need to tailor your communication strategy to get the desired response or feedback from your younger employees. In a day and age where we’re seemingly inundated with information from every direction (email inbox, social media, targeted marketing) it’s important that your messaging is clear and speaks towards matters that are important to your team.
A great way to reframe your plan for younger staff is to focus on specifically showcasing how the plan’s resources can support their lifestyle and goals. Employees at different stages in their life will probably see value in differing aspects of your plan. If you feel a segment of your workforce is being neglected, then it might be time to rethink your strategy. You don’t want to miss out on great hires or for your team members to begin feeling unappreciated.
We know young Canadians are feeling stressed about finances, so focus on demonstrating the value of starting retirement savings early so they can start planning to buy their first piece of real estate.
Show them how your Employee Assistance Program can provide guidance on how to handle the stress and anxiety that comes with everyday life. They may be surprised to learn that EAPs are packed with information about building skills and habits that speak directly to their interests and wellness goals (nutrition, exercise, starting a family, etc).
Finally, lean into the tech that’s built into your benefits plan. Virtual healthcare, EAPs, health provider search engines, internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy, health assessment tools - they all have an element of technology that will appeal to the experience younger generations expect. They also play an important role as a preventative healthcare measure that your younger employees will come to appreciate as they continue to enjoy their favourite sports and activities.
If your employees don’t understand their benefits plan, they won't appreciate it. Taking the time to develop a communication strategy specialized to the concerns of younger employees will empower them to utilize their benefits plan to its fullest potential, boosting employee health, productivity, and retention.