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To our policyholders in areas affected by wildfires in designated California counties: Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Solano, Sonoma, and Yuba, as well as those in areas affected by recent hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, please know that the thoughts and prayers of everyone at Aflac are with you. We are working with government agencies that represent all declared disaster areas, including those under emergency order, to ensure we do everything possible to help you. Based on that guidance, we have extended the due dates for policy premiums by 60 days for those living in places that have been declared disaster areas or are under emergency order. If you have a question about your policy or need help, contact us at 800-992-3522. To help with the recovery, Aflac made a $500,000 donation to the American Red Cross, and our employees are making their own private contributions. Please be safe, as the care of you and your families is paramount.
A nuestros asegurados en las áreas afectadas por los recientes huracanes, queremos que sepan que todos en Aflac estamos pensando en, y orando por, ustedes. Estamos trabajando con agencias del gobierno que representan todas las áreas declaradas como zonas de desastre, para asegurarnos de hacer todo lo posible para ayudarles. Basándonos en su consejo, hemos extendido por 60 días las fechas de vencimiento de las primas de las pólizas de aquellos que viven en áreas declaradas como zonas de desastre. Si tiene una pregunta sobre su póliza o necesita ayuda, contáctenos al 800-992-3522. Para ayudar con la recuperación, Aflac ha donado $500,000 a la Cruz Roja Americana y nuestros empleados están efectuando sus propias donaciones. Por favor cuídense, ya que su bienestar y el de sus familias está por encima de todo.
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Has there ever been an era without a generation gap? Probably not: Each generation of older workers laments the lack of initiative and work ethic of the following – and they put an exclamation point on it with tales about walking five miles a day to school, trudging to class through the snow and heat, rising well before dawn to deliver newspapers or having to do research at an actual library.
The truth is that most of today’s youngest workers – members of the millennial generation – aren’t lacking in motivation. They’ve simply come of age in a time of economic strife. Millennials have learned from experience that it’s not always easy to find a find job, let alone the “right” job. What’s more, seeing their hard-working parents laid off by companies that are cost-cutting and downsizing has led to a not-so-surprising distrust of employers.
Businesses must make an effort to adjust and adapt to the millennial mindset. After all, millennials now comprise the largest portion of the U.S. workforce at more than one-third of all employees, and their dominance will continue to grow.1 Put simply, companies that have long focused on the wants and needs of baby boomers and Gen Xers must turn their attention to the estimated 53.5 million working millennials who have very different mindsets and expectations.
Here’s one way millennials differ from their parents: They’ve decided that life should be about good times. According to a report from Mindshare, 72 percent of millennials believe life is too short to be uptight and 71 percent consider having fun a core part of their lives.2
Still, despite their dedication to merrymaking, millennials’ lives are often clouded by financial responsibilities. According to a Wells Fargo survey, 40 percent describe their debt as overwhelming, compared to 23 percent of baby boomers. When asked to quantify debt as a percentage of their monthly pay, millennials broke down their financial burdens this way: credit card debt, 16 percent; mortgage debt, 15 percent; student loan debt, 12 percent; auto debt, 9 percent; and medical debt, 5 percent. What’s more, 47 percent of millennials devote 50 percent or more of their paychecks to ongoing payments.3
Today’s companies and financial experts often miss the boat when it comes to advising millennials about benefits strategies. Much of their communication focuses on setting aside funds for retirement, which is a key issue for baby boomers. However, millennials are less interested in planning for retirement than in planning for financial independence.
Unlike their parents and grandparents, most millennials don’t aspire to retiring in their 60s. Instead, they’d like to say goodbye to conventional employment as quickly as possible. Many are willing to live with Mom and Dad, work side jobs or even invest significant portions of their incomes to do so. As Alan Moore, co-founder of the XY Planning Network, wrote in Money magazine: Millennials “don’t need $1 million to $3 million in the bank when they’re 63 years old. Instead, they may need to reach an investment goal of $250,000 or $500,000 in assets before they can start withdrawing 3 to 4 percent, because along with other income streams this is enough to cover their expenses each year for life.”4
Given that millennials are both financially strapped and eager to achieve financial independence, where do benefits fit in?
Their often-crushing debt loads, combined with their commitment to enjoying life, make many young workers hesitant to enroll in benefits that shrink their paychecks. That’s evidenced by the fact that millennials are our nation’s most underinsured generation: 24 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 don’t have health insurance. And it’s not just health insurance they’re rejecting, because millennials are the least likely of any age group to have any type of insurance, including auto, renters, homeowners, life and disability coverage.5
When communicating with millennials about voluntary health insurance benefits, employers should keep their tenuous financial circumstances – and eagerness to save – in mind. That’s because millennials might be the generation least equipped to cope with the out-of-pocket expenses that accompany an unexpected accident or illness. In fact, the 2016 Aflac WorkForces Report found that despite their intentions to save, 62 percent of millennials have $1,000 or less on hand to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses and 63 percent would not be able to adjust to the financial costs associated with a serious injury or illness.6
For this reason, voluntary insurance is something most millennials can’t afford to go without. When communicating with younger workers about benefits, employers should stress that a serious accident or illness might not only endanger their present financial security; it might endanger their long-term goals for financial independence. And speaking of communicating, employers would do well to adopt a communications plan with a regular cadence that involves communicating about benefits throughout the year.
The bottom line is that even a minor accident or illness can result in temporary loss of income, as well as the inability to pay normal living expenses and set aside funds in pursuit of financial independence. Employers should communicate with millennials about how voluntary benefits options can help pay the monthly mortgage or rent, car payments, utility costs and other bills that continue to roll in when they’re too sick or hurt to work. By emphasizing financial independence over retirement and stressing the role of benefits in achieving that independence, they’ll show millennials they’re adapting to the needs of their generation.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a solicitation.
Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York.
1Pew Research Center. “Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force.” Accessed Jan. 4, 2017. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/11/millennials-surpass-gen-xers-as-the-largest-generation-in-u-s-labor-force/.
2Mindshare North America. “Brand badges and the new millennial identity.” Accessed Jan. 4, 2017. http://www.scribd.com/doc/245726568/Brand-Badges-and-the-New-Millennial-Identity.
3Wells Fargo. “Eight in 10 millennials say great recession taught them to save now, Wells Fargo survey finds.” Accessed Jan. 4, 2017. https://www.wellsfargo.com/about/press/2014/20140610_millennials/.
4Time Magazine. “Forget about retirement planning for millennials.” Accessed Jan. 4, 2017. http://time.com/money/3686209/retirement-planning-millennials/.
5Insurancequotes.com. “Millennials are confident about financial health but are underinsured.” Accessed Jan. 4, 2017. http://www.insurancequotes.com/health/millennials-and-insurance.
62016 Aflac WorkForces Report conducted in January and February 2016 by Lightspeed GMI on behalf of Aflac. Accessed Jan. 4, 2017. https://www.aflac.com/business/resources/aflac-workforces-report/default.aspx.