How a competitive workplace portfolio wins in the battle for top talent
by Jimmy ReidMr. Reid is executive vice president of Lincoln Financial Group and president of Workplace Solutions. Visit www.lfg.com.
Due to rising prices and unsteady markets, research shows Americans are facing several financial challenges, including saving enough for emergencies, paying off student loan debt or managing mounting medical expenses. Additionally, retirement contributions are down, and many people are finding it difficult to save more. The good news is consumers are ready to take action — with more than 80% of workers surveyed saying they have reevaluated their finances, lifestyle, career and retirement expectations over the past year.
Americans’ willingness to change financial habits presents a significant opportunity for employers looking to attract top talent. Increasingly, employees are turning to their employers for financial protection, financial wellness resources and support. In fact, research shows 86% of employees surveyed say insurance benefits other than medical insurance are a “must have” for an employer to offer.
By offering a comprehensive benefits package and resources, employers can ensure they are meeting the needs of their current workforce and win over top talent in today’s competitive hiring market.
The New Workforce
In order to provide employees with sought-after benefits, it’s important to understand the current wants and needs of the workforce. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Currently, more than one-in-three American labor force participants (35%) are Millennials, making them the largest generation of U.S. workers. The benefits and protection this generation of employees are looking for may differ from those approaching retirement age.
For instance, while student loans affect every generation, research shows that younger workers are facing more debt: 34% of Millennials and 32% of Gen Z surveyed say they have student loan debt, compared to just 9% of Baby Boomers. Offering solutions to help tackle this financial burden may help younger job seekers choose an employer, as research shows that 83% of those with student loan debt surveyed would be interested in a student loan management service.
On top of student loans, 58% of all workers surveyed hold credit card debt, and, on average, workers in their 30s have the highest number of competing financial priorities. Not surprisingly, younger workers are interested in help from their employers to manage their debt – 92% of Gen Z and 88% of Millennials surveyed are interested in being offered a long-term financial plan, and 90% of Gen Z are interested in an emergency savings account offered through their employer.
Supplemental health benefits like Accident, Critical Illness and Hospital Indemnity insurance are also of great interest among workers. These types of ancillary benefits can be added to traditional health coverage to help people save more confidently, without the worry of compromising their savings if something unexpected comes their way.
- Accident insurance helps pay for expenses that aren’t covered by health insurance, such as high deductibles.
- Critical illness insurance provides funds to cover day-to-day expenses while someone is recovering from an illness – such as mortgage payments, childcare or food.
- Hospital indemnity insurance provides a lump-sum payment if the insured is admitted to the hospital or undergoes outpatient surgery for a covered illness or injury.
However, despite high levels of interest in supplemental benefits, just 30% of respondents are enrolled in at least one supplemental benefit. Along with lack of availability, one of the biggest barriers to widespread adoption is education around the value these benefits provide. In fact, 54% of workers surveyed believe that supplemental benefits are designed only for people who already have specific health issues.
Offering dynamic education on workplace benefits could move the needle on these numbers, and help employers showcase the efforts they have made to protect their employees’ financial future.
Education Is Essential
Choosing the right benefits can be a complicated process — more than half of those surveyed say they would enroll in more benefits at work if they understood them better.
Having on-demand resources can give employees the time they need to fully review and confidently select benefits coverage. Digital enrollment guides can be hosted online all year long, giving employees time to educate themselves and prepare for open enrollment. Employers can also give employees access to digital services that showcase added benefits that come with certain products.
Providing cost clarity and transparency can also help employees better understand the impact to their paycheck. The perception that supplemental benefits are unaffordable is the top reason workers choose not to enroll. Conversely, among those who are enrolled in supplemental benefits, the most common reason for enrollment was affordability (41%). This discrepancy can be addressed through a digital administration platform, where employees can choose to elect or waive benefits with instant cost analysis per paycheck.
Employers don’t have to go it alone. Their carriers are partners who can support them and provide employees with the education and digital tools they need to take ownership of their coverage. Digital calculators that help estimate life insurance and disability coverage needs as employees progress through different stages of life are available, and dedicated enrollment teams can also answer questions and ensure employees understand the details of their coverage and feel confident in their benefits choices.
Winning With Wellness
In the current economic climate, many employees may be feeling heightened financial stress and uncertainty, which can negatively impact their overall health and performance at work. In fact, research shows that more than 80% of workers surveyed said finances contribute to their stress.
Offering access to financial wellness tools can help ease some of this stress by providing employees with an accurate picture of their holistic financial situation. Research shows that people who use financial wellness resources report positive outcomes – 77% of those surveyed said these resources made a positive impact, including 21% who saw a significant positive impact.
When employees improve their financial wellness, they’re better able to manage everyday expenses, reduce stress, save for retirement and pay off debt. Using these tools can also help employees feel more positively about their employer – 56% of employees surveyed said they would be more loyal to an employer who provided financial wellness benefits.
When employers offer benefits and wellness resources, it can make a difference — but only if employees actually use them. Below are some strategies employers can adopt to enhance the benefits experience and boost enrollment:
- Provide expert advice: For many workers, an ideal benefits education program includes having experts readily available to answer employee questions. This advice can be delivered to employees in a variety of ways, from lunch and learns to webinars to one-on-one meetings.
- Connect employees directly to the benefits carrier: Employees prefer to hear directly from their benefits providers — nearly 9 in 10 respondents reported that they would be very or somewhat interested in receiving communication directly from an insurance carrier. Employers can help facilitate this by ensuring the contact details for their benefits carrier are prominently placed on benefits materials and intranet sites.
- Emphasize affordability: Many workers aren’t aware how affordable supplemental health benefits can be. In fact, widespread misperceptions about their affordability are the top barrier to enrollment.
By offering dynamic education on benefit offerings, transparency around cost and financial wellness solutions, employers can help attract top talent, retain current employees and set their business up for success.