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.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.