Blog 1/29/2018

Four Tips for Improving Baby Boomer New Hire Benefits Onboarding

According to recent research from the AARP, older Americans continue to stay at their jobs longer. Among people 55 and older, 39.9 percent were working or actively looking for work in February of this year and baby boomers currently make up about 29 percent of today’s active workforce.

Also, it’s easy to forget that this generation is actually two groups–the “leading edge” boomers (60+ years old) and the “trailing edge” boomers (under 60 years old).

When it comes to onboarding baby boomer new hires, using the same approach as you would with younger hires is not very effective. Not only is this generation already experienced with choosing and using benefits, they are typically focused on future, versus immediate, needs. If your onboarding program isn’t addressing the different needs and interests of these two subgroups, you may not be making the most of your new hire’s potential.

Keep these tips in mind if your new hires include baby boomers:

1.Personalize the conversation

Since baby boomers generally have a better understanding of benefits than their younger counterparts, they are less likely to need help with basic concepts such as deductibles and copayments. That said, boomers typically rate health insurance as the most important benefit an employer can offer—probably because they’ve reached an age where they use their plans frequently. In fact, 90 percent state that health is a top concern for them and 67 percent say they’re staying healthy so they can continue working. Be sure to address your health options and how they might differ in type from what your new hire previously had.

In addition, focus on each boomer’s current life situation. For example, leading edge boomers likely want to know what programs the company offers to help protect their assets and set aside money for when they eventually retire. Trailing edge boomers may have children who are still dependents, so they might want to learn about plans that protect their family’s health and wealth. It’s helpful to have an expert on the company’s benefits options available to help address your new hire’s specific needs.

2.Emphasize voluntary benefits

As noted in a 2016 BenefitsPro article, boomers are ideal prospects for voluntary benefits, as they tend to have a high level of financial literacy, are conscious of maintaining their health as they finish out their careers and have accumulated more wealth than younger workers. Today’s boomers often plan to work well past “normal” retirement age, or even to skip traditional retirement entirely—in some cases because they’re concerned about outliving their assets. The right voluntary benefits offerings—such as wellness programs and long-term care, supplemental life, critical illness and hospital indemnity insurance–can help minimize current out-of-pocket health costs, freeing up money to invest in retirement plans.

Furthermore, as a Nationwide Financial survey noted, many boomers are terrified of health costs in retirement, so they likely have a strong interest in building up their savings. Therefore, while health benefits are extremely important, be sure to help them understand any tax-deferred savings options your company offers, including a 401(k), flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA).

3.Provide Enrollment Support

Given the experience baby boomers have with benefits, you can spend less time on the basics of enrollment and more on how their new benefits package compares to that of their previous employers, as well as how their new options can help them in their current life stage.

Since baby boomers are generally interested in their well-being, it’s important to help them not only understand their choices during enrollment, but how to use their benefits. If you have resources (either internally or through an outside partner) to help them find doctors in their network, compare prices for prescriptions or medical procedures or resolve billing issues, help them understand how to access those resources.

Given the wide-ranging interests across generations and even within each generation, one-on-one enrollment support may be the solution to addressing new hire concerns and getting them focused on and engaged in their new position with your organization. If you’re onboarding large groups of employees at the same time, or even smaller groups of employees in different locations or of different ages, you may want to consider outsourcing enrollment support to your broker, consultant or enrollment partner to free your HR team to focus on other aspects of the onboarding process.

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