August 21, 2012

Study: Young Workers and Voluntary Benefits

statsA recent study by MetLife has found that members of the small-business workforce, especially younger workers, have experienced a weakening in their personal finances and are looking to their employers to offer assistance. Half of 20- and 30-somethings polled said that they were looking to employee benefits to fill the financial gaps created by the slow economy. Fortunately, that help can be made easier to attain if more employers use voluntary benefits to retain their employees. The report, the 10th Annual Study of Employee Benefit Trends, showed that over 75 percent of smaller employers strong agree that one of the highest-priority benefits objectives is to retain employees, which could eventually lead to increased support for voluntary benefits plans.

“It’s hard to over-estimate the importance of responding to the needs of younger workers on whose shoulders the future of a small business can depend,” said Anthony J. Nugent, executive vice president, Group, Voluntary Worksite Sales, at MetLife. “Our study underscores that generational differences about benefits needs and preferences are not just reflections of age. Younger workers, particularly those in many smaller organizations that were hit very hard by the recession, and who are unsure about the future of Social Security, have a different benefits perspective than older generations.”

And Gen Y and Gen X workers, who make up 56 percent of the small business workforce, are willing to pay more for benefits in lieu of losing them all-together. Over 50 percent of younger workers prefer to have a large selection of benefits option even if it entails paying for those voluntary benefits out of pocket.

“There is no economic need for smaller businesses to leave popular voluntary benefits to the realm of larger companies, especially given the interest and willingness by many Gen X and Y employees to contribute to, or to fully pay for, benefits,” said Nugent. “With the newer enrollment systems and accompanying explanatory tools, it is now much easier to enroll employees with multiple benefits.”

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Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.