NEW YORK (MainStreet) — David Tambini, an employee at Credit Suisse in New York, says health benefits from his employer are important, because he plans to one day have a family.
“As you get older and establish yourself in a profession, you want to focus on personal time such as a family and being active,” Tambini told MainStreet. “Health benefits is a harness to continue your goals.”
Tambini doesn’t avail himself of a tax-advantaged medical savings account (HSA), but he does purchase health care benefits.
“A small portion is deducted from my paycheck to pay for it,” he said.
Tambini is among the 60% of Millennials who prioritize health benefits, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Benefits Report, and with 80% of employers absorbing at least half of health care cost increases, human resource professionals are faced with tough decisions about how to spend their benefit dollars.
“There is a growing need for companies to consider their benefits offering more holistically and provide more comprehensive financial education and solutions that can address today’s challenges such as managing rising health care costs,” said David Tyrie, head of retirement and personal wealth solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The average Millennial’s focus on health benefits is reinforced by the growth of HSAs, which experienced an increase of 37% between 2013 and 2014. “Millennials largely contributed to that growth with 23% of new HSA accounts created by younger workers in the first half of 2014,” said Kim Kasin, managing director and financial guidance executive with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Given the longevity bonus, they are also more likely to spend more time in the workforce than any other generation.”
How benefits and resources are communicated are hardly a one-size-fits-all proposition. Only 12% of plan sponsors with Millennial employees have made an effort to use different technologies or channels to communicate with and motivate Millennials to become more engaged with benefits.
“We have heard from focus groups with Millennials that they want to be able to manage their financial life in one place, on the go and using their mobile devices,” said Kasin.
Of companies that target Millennials directly, 49% employ texting, 41% turn to LinkedIn and 38% use Facebook.
“Simply educating employees on best financial practices in preparation for retirement is not enough,” said Brian Cosgray, co-founder and CEO of DoubleNet Pay, a financial wellness app. “Employees lead busy lives, juggling multiple work and family priorities. They need tools that make managing their daily finances and saving easier.”
That’s because employees challenged with managing their daily financial needs may not be able to grasp the importance of saving for retirement.
In response, some 48% of larger firms are adopting financial wellness programs, which is up from 35% in 2013.
“Many employees need help managing their finances today, such as paying bills, saving for necessities like emergencies and loss of income and having a clear view of discretionary funds,” Cosgray said.
— Written for MainStreet by Juliette Fairley