Quick Summary: Millennials, the children of Baby Boomers, are significantly different from previous generations in many ways. These differences can present both challenges and opportunities for those trying to communicate with them.
If your organization doesn’t yet employ millennials in large numbers, you soon will. Born from about 1980 to the mid-1990s, this group is more than 77 million strong and ethnically diverse. But perhaps their most defining characteristic is their immersion in technology. They’ve been raised in an age of constant (and instant) communication. All information is just a click away.
To reach millennials successfully, you must understand their behaviors and preferences. Then you can design your benefits communication to be delivered their way.
Richard T. Sweeney of the New Jersey Institute of Technology has published research titled “Millennial Behaviors and Demographics.” Here’s some of what he learned about millennials and what it means for your health and benefits communication:
They expect a wide array of choices. After growing up with many options in services and products, they continue to expect that everywhere. Keep this in mind not only when designing benefit plans but when communicating them as well. Give them choice by offering the same information in a variety of ways (in print and online).
Convenience and flexibility are key. Millennials like control (“I want what I want, when and how I want it.”). Allow them to “time and place shift” their learning. Use their technology for your benefit.
Communicate through podcasts, webcasts, online tutorials, and email, which they can access at their convenience.
Millennials are impatient. Make your communications efficient and productive. Automated services, such as online benefits calculators and enrollment, appeal to their need for speed.
They multitask. Multitasking is an offshoot of their impatience. They would be happy if they could download a podcast to an iPod or iPhone and listen to an explanation of your new medical coverage while exercising.
Communication is continuous. Millennials are in constant communication with others through cell phones, text messaging, instant messaging, and social networking sites. In fact, they are more likely to use mobile communications than email. If your technology can support it, look for ways to use text messages for short items such as action and deadline reminders.
In addition, these ideas will appeal to the up and coming workforce:
• Invite feedback. Create a blog where employees can ask questions and share information.
• Keep text confined to concise blocks of information. Millennials have short attention spans.
• Personalize and customize your information as much as possible. Develop examples of how different benefit plans might work for someone in this age group.
• Testimonials can be effective, as millennials rely heavily on peer recommendations.
• Multiple, short messages are more effective than a single longer one.
• Understand that your communication requirements will differ for different generations of employees.
• Evaluate how you communicate and if changes would help you better reach younger workers.
• Seek feedback from your millennial employees about their preferences (they love to give it!).
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