Though to those of us in our forties, fifties and sixties, Millennials still seem like ‘kids,’ let’s face it: they’re not.
The oldest Millennials are now 37 years old and probably working as middle managers and executives within your company. They aren’t kids; they have kids.
In fact, they’re no longer the youngest demographic in the workforce anymore (well, depending on who you ask.) Most of the youngest workers you’re hiring today (ages 22 and under) don’t qualify as Millennials at all. Instead, they’ve been called Post-Millennials, Generation Z, iGen, Plurals, and, courtesy of MTV, ‘The Founders.’
All that said, the differences between these two groups, when it comes to communicating benefits, are outnumbered by their similarities. Both of their attitudes were shaped by the Great Recession of the late 2000’s; Millennials were in high school, college, or just out, worrying about their futures. Gen-Zers were kids watching their parents and their friends’ parents lose their jobs and struggle to pay the bills. Also, this group of employees have spent most of their lives if not all of their lives with the Internet and email a click away. Which means that, if we really want them to take full advantage of the benefits we offer them–and we do, because workers who fully utilize their benefits are more likely to stick around–we have to communicate in a way that considers their POV and their preferences.
So then. Here are a few tips on effectively reaching Millennials and Post-Millennials:
#1. Focus on how they can save money. Why? They were the first cord cutters–and many of them are carrying a lot of student debt. Show them concrete examples of how utilizing the various options of your plans will save them real money. If they truly believe they’re wasting money on something they feel isn’t that important, you’ll see them change instantly.
#2. Go digital wherever possible. Millennials and Gen-Zers are digital natives! What’s a digital native? Someone who prefers to communicate, research, and live within the digital, online world. So: don’t give them big colorful benefit guides and call it a day. Give them a mobile-optimized website that allows them to search for their answers 24/7. Communicate often by email. And–if you’re ambitious–create simple video content with your phone or webcam to communicate big news or explain how to do simple things online.
#3. Tap Millennials to vouch for the stuff you want to promote to Millennials. Most Millennials would prefer to get information from someone like them. They feel this person understands them better than some older guy or lady, or some cheeseball sales person from your benefits vendor. Tap an influential millennial leader in your company to be your spokesperson. (For more information about techniques for effectively engaging employees and motivating them to act, check out this free eBook.)
#4. Millennials are used to getting information that’s short and sweet. Don’t think about making your presentation entertaining and to the point as a ‘nice to have,’ but a ‘must-have.’ Kind of like when you go visit your in-laws, you want to stay just long enough where they still want more, instead of staying so long they’re begging for it to end!
#5. Millennials love a story. We get so drilled into just delivering the facts. The reality is, people will learn more, retain more and engage more if there’s a great story about what you’re trying to get them to listen to. Find that story within your organization. Someone has a great one. Someone needed your benefits in a big way and it helped them, maybe even saved their life, or saved their house. Share those stories. (Check out this ebook on creating easy, effective customer testimonials to help your cause.)
One last bonus tip? Don’t ever forget that it’s our job as benefits and HR leaders to help our employees get the most out of what we are offering. It’s easy to start telling ourselves that our employees need to start taking responsibility of this and that it’s not our burden. But it is. It’s what we get paid to do. We get paid to attract, develop and retain talent. Getting our employees to fully utilize everything we offer them is job one on our job description.
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