As more and more millennials enter the technology workplace, employers are asking: what do they want and how do they want it?
Familiar Wants and Desires
A 2017 survey by Gallup shows that as millennials enter the workforce they are pushing for changes in the workplace. However, these changes are desirable to workers of any age. Millennials want to be happy in what they are doing, and feel like they have a purpose, the survey says.
Most millennial workers approach their job with a defined set of expectations. They want meaning and purpose from their jobs, and want to learn and develop new skills along the way. For 87 percent of the millennials surveyed, this is critical to career development.
The same emphasis applies to perks they receive from their jobs. One misconception about millennials is that they want unconventional perks, such as a decent food court or pet-friendly offices; when in reality, millennials value the same benefits as other generations, including those related to quality of life (e.g, health insurance, paid vacation and retirement plans, etc.). The difference is that millennials are willing to consider changing jobs for specific perks and benefits – something that can’t be said about baby boomers or Generation Xers.
As millennials move into the workforce, it is becoming clear that millennials don’t just want benefits; they want them fast.
“[Millennials] don’t want to chit chat about it, they want the data and they make the decision on their own, but they want speed to market,” says Graham Fuller, principal and senior relationship manager for Mercer, the IEEE Member Group Insurance program administrator. “This is where we are seeing a big sea change in addressing the needs of millennials.”
Millennials like to do everything electronically. As such, insurance brokers and aggregators are making technology mobile- and tablet-friendly. The ability to apply online or access online portals is extremely important to them.
However, when it comes to making final decisions about coverage, millennials are extremely smart, researched and detailed. Mercer has found millennial technologists still like a trusted advisor or a helping hand in the final stages of decision-making.
“Do they want to spend hours filling out forms? No,” Fuller says. “Do they want to spend less than 30 minutes online? Yes, absolutely. It is a generational shift in how they want access to their benefits.”
So those insurance carriers that cater to technology firms are upgrading systems to automate the process and enable all offerings online. Millennial engineers that use the IEEE-Sponsored Insurance Services do not have the time to take an hour or two to visit an insurance office or to consult with a representative and fill out forms.
Furthermore, for non-urgent health-care concerns, millennials often search online for information before consulting a doctor, and they are more likely to act on advice via the internet — including social media — than previous generations. Therefore, having advice portals available as a resource is becoming important for insurance aggregators.
As a result, a technological renaissance is happening among insurance carriers to change the delivery model to one that involves speed to market, transparency, reduction in errors and embraces technology to focus on millennial technologists, and ensure that benefits are expedited in a usable format.
A recent survey of workers under age 40 sponsored by IEEE indicates most respondents (77 percent) use internet search as the most important way to research insurance products, and that insurance company web sites were most important when it comes to resources used for that research, followed by discussion with family and friends.
Because of this and the changing demographic landscape, this summer, IEEE is partnering with New York Life and Mercer to develop a new IEEE member group life insurance portal. This tech innovation, which will allow users to choose insurance, view rates and view benefits through a computer, tablet or smartphone, came about directly as a result of the millennial influence on buying preferences.
Not surprisingly, along with changes to allow millennials to rapidly access and select their benefits online, industry is moving to accommodate millennials’ preference and affinity for mobile devices.
“[Mobility] has changed everything in every industry,” says William R. Kassebaum, president and CEO of Energient Inc. “Now people expect to receive services and access to everything easily via apps and web sites on their iDevices. The rate of integration and quick access to information is accelerating and making it a must for any service that wants to be adopted easily and be competitive. This is literally crowding out all other ways of delivering services.”
These advances in technology will only serve to make the insurance industry more accessible. Likewise, when artificial intelligence is added into the mix, it will speed up the process even more while at the same time improving it, Kassebaum says.
Part of this momentum includes the proliferation of teledocs or telemedicine. Medical networks are increasingly allowing patients to see regular doctors over Skype or FaceTime. This is an important feature for those technologists who are regularly on the road. If someone is out of state and feeling sick and doesn’t have a doctor in the area, they can connect via the internet to a doctor who may be able to prescribe medication. Treatment might also be available in this way to a mother with a sick child who can’t make it in to the doctor’s office.
This is due, in part, to the cost savings involved in telemedicine, but also as a way to reach people remotely who can’t make it to a doctor. The ability to connect via an app is also valuable if a patient has a condition that a doctor is monitoring, maybe through a skin-based wearable, saving the patient from having to make repeated trips to the doctor’s office. This is appealing to millennials who value their time.
The future of technology in healthcare is also becoming a hot topic, also driven by millennials. Most surveys indicate that millennials are more willing than other generations to accept new technologies. Future healthcare technologies, such as e-textiles/smart clothing, biometrics, augmented reality and skin wearables, are all coming in the next few years and welcomed by millennials, Kassebaum says.
“Manufactured organs, implantable devices, sensors that monitor chemical activity and diagnose conditions, drug delivery, new materials for making joints and repairs in vitro and cyber prosthesis are all going to make impressions that will benefit individuals in the future,” Kassebaum says.
What Benefits Do They Want?
When it comes to the benefits millennials want the most, it may be surprising that millennials are extremely focused on adding life insurance to their portfolios. Mercer sees evidence of this in the year-over-year increases in the purchase of term life insurance products among millennials.
“There is an unfortunate perception of the millennial buying population that they are checked out. But they are not,” Fuller says. “They are very engaged, very diligent. They just have limited time. They don’t have the time to wax philosophical on something for hours because they have their lives to lead. But this is a very encouraging trend in life insurance. When it comes down to it, they do understand, they do care.”
This is the result of many millennials having large student loans and knowing that these obligations do not go away if they are hurt, have a disease or die, Fuller says.
“The challenge among millennials is how you convince this group that they need a term life insurance policy more than they need a 55-inch television,” Fuller says. “You have to convince them that the paycheck to them needs to continue if something happens that is unexpected.”
Still, a survey from Fit Small Business indicates that healthcare is the most important of all benefits to millennials, and goes a long way toward attracting millennial talent. This is a result of rising healthcare costs and the uncertainty of where the industry is going as a result of changes to the Affordable Care Act.
Retirement funding is another area where millennials want to see more in their benefits packages. A recent report from TriNet shows that millennials are getting savvier about retirement and are increasingly upping their contributions to their employer-offered retirement plans. They also seem more prepared about making decisions concerning their retirement packages than other generations were at the same age.
Other benefits that technologist millennials want from their employers include paid time off for volunteering, maternity packages, child care centers, tuition reimbursement, unlimited vacation and sick days and online education credits.
But if these millennial engineers are employed at a small company or by an employer that doesn’t offer what they want from insurance benefits, what can they do? One option is to buy additional insurance or supplemental insurance from a third party, such as IEEE-Sponsored Insurance Services, that offers full insurance plans to technology professionals who may not be getting what they need from their employer.
IEEE members in good standing can have access to life insurance, health insurance exchange, dental, disability and accidental death and dismemberment. While many of these plans are still underwritten (meaning just because you apply for a plan doesn’t mean you will get approved), it is a potential option for millennials to get the benefits they want most.
It is inevitable that millennials will make up the bulk of the future technology workforce. Their impact on insurance benefits and how those benefits are garnered and obtained has already been felt. The market is already seeing insurance companies developing technology-based offerings that cater more to what millennials are looking for when selecting benefits. To keep pace, these companies need to offer portals where answers to questions are easy to find, increase speedy online services, accelerate the move to online payment options, allow easy access to view and change benefit policies and create tools to keep private information safe online.
As this generation becomes the main source of insurance buyers, carriers will need to embrace new technology as well as the changes that are taking place (and expand them as needed) in order to keep millennials engaged and satisfied with their benefits programs.
To learn more about IEEE-Sponsored Insurance Services, click here.
Peter Brown has nearly 20 years of experience reporting and writing about the electronics industry including semiconductors, semiconductor manufacturing, consumer electronics, power and energy, MEMS and sensors and mobile devices. He previously worked for IHS Technology as Senior Manager for Marketing and Communication, where he wrote, edited and designed the weekly Market Watchnewsletter as well as press releases on the latest IHS analytical reports. Prior to IHS, Peter held numerous positions at Electronic News including senior editor and managing editor, where he won gold and silver awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) for both writing and design.