By the year 2020, Millennials will represent 50 per cent of the global workforce.
Who are Millennials?
Millennials or Generation Y represent a demographic cohort born between 1980 and 2000.
There are many stereotypes for Millennials with comments ranging from tech-savvy, educated and energetic to entitled, disloyal and cynical.
Generalizations can be harmful and it isn't a safe bet to broad brush the characteristics of a generation, especially when developing a benefits communication strategy. However, there are some common traits relevant to Millennials that include:
1) a strong feeling of online connection
2) an interest in teamwork
3) a heightened need for choice and control
4) a greater use and comfort with social media, video, online interactions and text messaging.
While these traits may take precedence, it doesn't mean they don't value face to face communication, especially for complex topics or where a series of questions may result.
Regardless of the medium, this generation has a strong appreciation for accurate, straightforward and current messages that are easily digestible and void of corporate spin or jargon.
Do Benefits Matter?
According to a recent report by Ebix Consulting, 49 per cent of Millennials said their employee benefits were a strong driver of financial security and peace of mind. Knowing that benefits matter also requires a keen understanding of this cohort's communication style preferences.
Here are some tips to consider when developing benefit and pension plan communications for Millennials:
1) Make it easy. Make it accessible.
Mirror the experience they have when accessing information in their personal lives. Don't make it difficult to source plan information. Feed them vital communications through their preferred social media channels throughout the year.
2) Make it fun. Make it transparent and real.
Think about how you'd communicate with a friend. Apply appropriate humour and disruptive quirky messages to catch their attention and engage them by keeping it real. Avoid corporate spin particularly if the message may be difficult or seen as a benefit takeaway. Just explain the reason for the change without any spin.
Regardless of generational cohort, revisit communications with a plain language filter. Keep to a Grade 8 reading level or lower and avoid acronyms or legal terms.
3) Keep it short. Make it current.
Limit the amount of text so that it is easily consumable and not overwhelming. Consider adding hyperlinks and scrolling news feeds as well as short articles and videos.
Keep messages timely and revisit as appropriate using other Millennial communication channel preferences. People have limited time and attention spans for benefits communications so don't let your approach make it hard to get your message across effectively.
4) Show all options. Feature flexibility.
Make it clear what benefit plan options exist and how to find more information easily.
5) Invite participation. Start a conversation.
Give the audience an opportunity to participate and have a say. Demonstrate the importance of their ideas and opinions. Create short, fun surveys with humour and irony -- similar to what they use outside of work (Think of the style of quizzes on Buzzfeed.com)
No matter the generational cohort, benefits communications are better served when their target audience is understood and messages are tailored to resonate effectively with them.
Leverage our experience.
An important overall goal for any benefits communication is to create positive and effective messages that reach their intended audience. Creating confidence in the desired call to action, behaviour change, awareness campaign or knowledge transfer is best served when messages, regardless of medium, help employees understand, appreciate, and use their plan(s) wisely.
We have decades of experience communicating to employees of every generation under our belt. We're excited to share our best practices with you. So please contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
A great deal of attention is being paid to Millennials (born between 1980-2000) and for good reason. By the year 2020, they will represent approximately 50% of the North American workforce. Their views toward debt management and saving for retirement are important considerations as they begin to dominate as consumer and workplace influencers.
What about the other demographic cohorts in the workforce?
While Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1965) are still part of the workforce, we see their numbers continuing to decline even though Canada has one of the highest percentages of working age people of all G8 countries at 68.5% (age 15-64), according to Catalyst.org.
While their numbers might not be as plentiful, Baby Busters, also known as part of Generation X - the core of them born between 1966 and 1971, represent 2.8 million people in Canada, according to information provided by Statistics Canada (www.12.statcan.gc.ca).
Economic challenges face each workforce demographic, but GenXers have lived through unprecedented economic transformation with large swings in the job market and, since the elimination of mandatory retirement, need to redefine the timing of their own workforce exit strategy. As a result, Baby Busters don't have the same sense of career and retirement as the generations preceeding them. With the impact of larger economic forces, GenXers developed less confidence in their ability to save for the long-term. With so much vying for their dollars earned (mortgage, loads, credit card debt, emergency funds, child's education savings), other financial needs simply take priority over saving for retirement.
With RRSP season upon us, there tends to be an influx of savings-related surveys published annually by various financial instituations to help assertain savings patterns and consumer behaviour. Recently, TD announced the results of their latest survey, which highlighted that more than two-thirds of Canadians between the ages of 35-54 (Gen X) say they're not saving enough for retirement. It is this cohort that says they really need help meeting their financial goals and they feel guilty about not saving enough.
Don't expect to retire on time.
In addition, 25% say not being ready for retirement is keeping them up at night. Also, the majority of this Baby Buster-GenX cohort report that they don't expect to be able to retire on time and 29% anticipate working in some manner during "retirement."
The TD survey sites savings barriers resulting primarily from GenXers' everyday financial demands such as: living expenses, mortgage or rent, as well as childcare costs (61%). These Baby Busters also said they struggle with paying down exsiting debt (42%) and other major unexpected life events like divorce or death of a spouse (19%).
While Millennials (born between 1980-2000) expressed similar worries to those of the Baby Busters, the Millennials or Generation Y have a longer savings runway with peak income earnings years still upon them even though they may feel that saving for the long-term, given all the economic turbulance, seems somewhat less reasonable.
Mindsets and intrinsic motivation
What does all this survey information mean when communicating the importance of saving for retirement and engaging employees in participatory pension and savings programs? It means that demographics influence an employee's personal finance mindset and their attitude toward savings habits.
If Traditionalists (born before 1946) could advise GenXers, they would likely tell them to spend less than they make because after all, "a penny saved is a penny earned". Even though this historically thrifty cohort enjoyed the opportunity for long careers with one employer, they might tell this generation that spending less might mean cutting back on day-to-day expenses. They might encourage them to find a way to contribute regularly to their retirement savings and share that doing something now is better than feeling overwhelmed and giving up on building a nest-egg. They might also reinforce the need to manage both sides of the balance sheet.
It is the simple wisdom of those who travelled the road ahead who can look back with clarity and offer up insights that are tried and true. This approach also works for workplace communication strategies -- look closely at what intrinsically motivates each generation in order to help them better prepare for their financial future, today.
These topics along with others pertaining to workforce trends and their influence on group benefit and pension programs remains an important area of focus for us. We invite you to contact us with questions. We are here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Of the generational cohorts, Millennials - those born between 1980 to 2000 --will make up 50% of the world's workforce by 2020. Where Baby Boomers -- those born between 1946 and 1964 -- drove so much of the decision-making, leaderships and consumer purchasing factors until now, it is clear there is another key influencer taking over this role, the Millennials or Generation Y.
Company HR departments, recruiting firms, ad agencies and just about any business looking to drive market share and hire rising star talent are bringing their attention to answering the questions: "What do Millennials want?" and "What will attract Millennials?"
It is with these questions in mind that I share the high-level summary of a recent project conducted by Bentley University called PreparedU. The infographic featured as the image in this blog reveals what Bentley's PreparedU project found out about Millennials.
1) There are some misconceptions about how they work and think. It has been generalized that they tend to hide behind technology with a preference for communicating via text or phone. The result? 51% of Millennials prefer to communicate face-to-face and in person. Email at 19% and text at 14% came in a distant second and third.
2) Another generalization that may be falsely anchored was that Millennials are not loyal to employers and would likely have a dozen or more jobs throughout their career. The Bentley survey showed that Millennials are more loyal than was assumed with 16% of respondents indicating that they saw themselves staying with one employer for their entire career and 80% of surveyed Millennials believing they would work for 4 or fewer companies throughout their career.
3) What may have been validated through the Bentley survey is the assumption that many Millennials have a poor work ethnic. Millennials agreed with 55% of respondents saying that they are unprepared for their first job and 66% of them said that the workplace should limit their use of social media to help address their ability to get work done and limit these online distractions.
4) How does the normal workday look for Millennials? According to the survey, the traditional concept of working 9 to 5 is over with 77% of respondents sharing they would be more productive if they were allowed flexible work hours.
So how does preparing for the influx of Millennials impact talent and shape benefit plans in the future?
1) Employers are looking to focus on introducing wellness programs that show their commitment to the mind, body and spirit of their employees. There is more of a focus on fitness reimbursement programs that aren't just for gym memberships, but for other cardio-related activities such as rowing clubs, Frisbee and baseball leagues. What is offered in vending machines and cafeterias is also being given closer examination. Living a healthy lifestyle includes the food choices made readily available to employees.
2) Companies are looking to introduce voluntary benefits with pet insurance and there is more interest in coverage for identity theft and other on-line related employee concerns. Employers are also incorporating coverage for naturopathic medicine and mental health counselling,
Providing benefits that the Millennials actually value and find of interest is a key question. As this generation continues to chance the face of the modern workplace, more pressure will be placed on finding answers that suit their preferences. Being prepared for Millennials means developing strategies to address these questions now before being forced to do so later.
To discuss workforce planning and considerations for your benefits and/or pension plan, please contact us. We stay on top of the trends with a practical awareness that comes from over two decades' industry experience. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
To learn more about this survey and to hear from Millennials on these topics, please watch the YouTube video from the PreparedU site called, "The Millennial Mind Goes to Work."
There is an odd dichotomy in the employment landscape right now. The Canadian unemployment rate hovers around 6.8 to 7 percent over the course and yet there are many employers who struggle to find the right candidate and have jobs sitting vacant for months at a time.
Recruiters and Human Resources professionals alike spend upwards of 15 hours per week just looking for the ideal candidate for their client. Perhaps there are jobs that Canadians won't take or maybe there is a significant skills shortage to match the demands of available work. Another possibility could be that there is too much competition in the marketplace or that some employers struggle with reduced budgets to support their recruiting needs. Whatever the mix of reasons, recruiting challenges exist and aren't likely to dissipate any time soon -- especially when one factors in North American Baby Boomer statistics where 10,000 workers retire every day.
Recruiting challenges are real and they are costly. The average hiring time is 10-12 weeks from job opening to accepted offer and the reality is that most organizations underestimate the cost of recruitment by 90-95%. In addition, once a suitable candidate has been interviewed and considered optimal for the role, over 50% of job offers are rejected.*
Smart recruiting involves strategically navigating the hiring landscape. My top tips for addressing current recruiting challenges are:
1) Rule the Job Description domain: spend sufficient time really ensuring that a detailed job description has been prepared with day-to-day duties clearly identified so that the candidate has a good picture of the nature of the work and you haven't created unrealistic expectations or hiring requirements.
2) Communicate your vision and market the organization: Candidates, especially Millennials (those born between 1980-2000) want to feel that they are connected to something greater and have a strong sense of community. They often seek this over job security.
Spending time communicating the vision and mission of the company as well as how the candidate's department fits into the overall scheme of things will help better position you when it comes to competition for talent.
3) Outline opportunity and total rewards: Make the effort to describe the opportunity for growth and advancement that exists within the organization for a talented team player and provide details about the total compensation arrangement, not just salary information.
4) Involve the direct supervisor as well as other employees in recruiting efforts: Loyalty and higher engagement are known to come from situations where referrals offer up the strongest candidates because workers understand they will have to work day in, day out with the person they've recommended. Also, managers generally know the details of the role better than a recruiter and whether a candidate is a good fit based on their own experience and knowledge of education and experience required in a specific field.
Employers who apply these steps as part of the hiring process do themselves a recruiting favour and also put applicants in a better position to feel excited about the prospect of being a strong organizational fit. There is a lot to consider when working to overcome existing recruitment challenges. As part of Gallagher Benefit Services, we have the experience of a global organization to address your needs. We invite you to contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
*source: Reed in Partnership
I’ve written on the topic of the effects of the various generations in the workforce before, but never with a specific focus on the Millennials, also known as Generation Y. This cohort was born between 1980 and 2000 and in today’s terms, their ages range from 15-35. By 2020, nearly 50 percent of all workers will come from this generational cohort.
As the Baby Boomers (1946-1964) retire, the Millennials will take front seat as the dominant workforce player representing the 25-45 year segment of workers who are increasingly stepping into leadership roles.
What we know from research about the Millennials is based on research and cautious generalizations. They are optimistic, achievement-oriented, and comfortable multi-tasking. They grew up with technology and haven’t lived in a world without the Internet. They tend to be comfortable with social media and are hungry to learn and develop their acute sense for social responsibility.
Millennials may be considered the most well educated of the generational cohorts, but with that knowledge comes the burden of post-education debt loans in the $20,000 plus mark. They seek employability, flexibility, and purpose-driven work with socially conscious employers. They also want help from their employer to find ways to manage their debt.
They are comfortable working in teams and the influence of staying connected supports their need to work within a community or network framework. They don’t look for linear progression or hierarchical structure the way the generations before them did, and while pay is important, it is paired with the need for a more balanced focus on work that matters to them, teams that allow them to thrive, and a workplace culture with high engagement levels.
With the war for talent starting to heat up, employers will be looking for ways to attract and retain Millennials. With an eye on the input, throughput and output of workers, employers will be well-served to ensure that retiring Baby Boomers do a good job in transferring knowledge to the up and coming Millennials and share what they know about the path they can carve for themselves based on the role they have today.
Millennials don’t carry the same loyalty to employers and are more willing to make several career moves to suit their needs. This behaviour isn’t as favourable for employers who don’t gain from higher turnover and retention loss. Employers benefit from communicating through social networking channels that Millennials use in their personal life. Messages that establish and reinforce the company’s culture, social responsibility, and development opportunities will be instrumental in retaining Millennials.
Employers can also look to create mentorship arrangements and communities of practice that facilitate knowledge transfer.
These and more suggestions are areas my team and I would be pleased to explore in greater detail with you. Keeping a pulse on the demographic shifts in the workforce not only from a benefits perspective, but from an employee engagement and retention focus is key. We’re here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.