Millennials

The Young and the (Financially) Restless: 3 Things You Can Do to Make Your Financial Wellness Program Extra-Helpful to Millennials

Mark Rader Financial Guidance

FW MillennialsDid you know that, as of a few years ago, Millennials became the biggest generational group currently in the American workforce? That’s right, there are now more working folks born after 1982 collecting a paycheck than there are Boomers and Gen Xers.

What does this mean, if you’re one of the thousands of companies committing more time and money to financial wellness this year? Very simply: your new (or improved) program should pay close attention to how effectively it’s helping your employees ages 18-34 deal with the money issues hitting them hardest.

Here are three financial facts about Millennials to consider–and three practical things you can do in response:

#1. Millennials as a group are carrying a staggering amount of long-term debt.

According to this study from the Filene Research Institute, two-thirds of Millennials (and a whopping 81% of college grads) carry at least one source of long-term debt–and 30% carry more than one. Students who graduated in 2015 carry an average of $35,000 in debt, and the average household with student loans owes $47,000. Not only that, younger workers are understandably stressed out about paying off all this debt: even 34% of Millennials making over $75,000/year say they doubt they’ll ever repay their student loans.

What you can do: Make sure your financial wellness program goes beyond retirement planning and tackles debt repayment head-on.

Specifically, point employees to information like this about different ways to approach the challenge. Also, consider the pros and cons of offering an employer-based loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) for your workforce. Offering a stipend to employees for the specific purpose of paying off student debt might not only help your recruiters bring in great, debt-saddled candidates, it lets your talented Millennials workers know you feel their pain, and gives them another reason to stick around.

#2. Millennials are either applying for the wrong cards and getting rejected, or not applying for credit cards at all…which is affecting their credit scores and future borrowing power

There are a lot of articles out there arguing that Millennials have learned the lessons of the Great Recession and are fiscally responsible and retirement-conscious.

However, other statistics make it clear that when it comes to building up good credit for the future, many Millennials are in the dark.

According to this survey from NerdWallet, many millennials apply for credit limits they don’t have the financial requirements for (i.e. their eyes are bigger than their wallets). And 31% of Millennials avoid using credit cards altogether, which can lead to a lower credit score and create a shorter credit history–both of which results can make it more difficult for them to borrow money for a home or a car down the line.

What you can do: Don’t assume that just because Millennials as a group are being responsible 401(k) contributors that means they’re savvy about matters of credit. In fact, assume they’re not.

To fill in any knowledge gaps, start by sharing this helpful article from NerdWallet, then consider drafting a list of FAQs or a simple list of Do’s and Don’ts that answers basic questions about the value of good credit and what hurts and helps your score in a conversational way.

#3. While many millennials are big social media sharers, they’re wary of sharing details about their financial situation with their employer

According to a survey we conducted a few years ago with Harris Polls called What Your Employees Think About Financial Wellness Programs, 43% of Millennials feel there’s a stigma associated with using employer-based resources, vs. 30% of workers 50 years or older.

Also, across the board, 49% of employees polled said they’d prefer to participate in a Financial Wellness session online–while only 42% said they’d prefer a one-on-one with an expert, and only 30% said they’d prefer an in-person group presentation. In other words, it seems employees–Millennials and otherwise–really care about privacy.

What you can do: Consider how offering a web-based third-party Financial Wellness tool that removes potential embarrassment or fear of judgment from the equation (we’re naturally fond of this one) might be more likely to motivate your younger workers to accept your help than, say, a big group meeting, or even access to a third-party financial counselor.

Anyway–hope this helps as you’re creating–or expanding–your financial wellness offerings this year!