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Millennials expected to change benefits landscape

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SAN FRANCISCO — Benefit offerings will continue to change as more millennials join the workforce, an expert said during the Disability Management Employer's Coalition's 2015 conference in San Francisco.

There's a shift from employer-paid to voluntary benefits, partly because younger workers want customization, Lindsey Pollak, author and millennial workplace expert at Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., said during a keynote session on Monday.

Ms. Pollak, who's based in New York, said understanding generational differences gives employers “one clue to how (people) would like their benefits to be delivered.”

For example, millennials, those born between 1982 and 2000, want benefits options, but don't expect them, she said, noting the poor participation by millennials in such plans.

Many millennials “see themselves as leaders, but at the same time they want training and coaching,” Ms. Pollak said. “Professional development, in every survey I've ever looked at, trumps money” when it comes to retaining millennial workers.

“The money has to be there … you have to pay a fair salary, but when it comes to retention,” it's all about professional and personal development, she added.

Hartford's workforce is less than 1% traditionalists (people born between 1922 and 1945), 26.5% baby boomers (1946 to 1964), 42% Generation Xers (1965 to 1981) and 32% millennials, Ms. Pollak said.

By 2020, millennials are projected to represent 50% of the U.S. workforce, she added, citing a stat from the U.S. Census Bureau.

As 63% of leaders will be eligible to retire in the next five years, those positions will fall to members of Generation X, the smallest generation in the workforce, and millennials, which will soon be the largest, Ms. Pollak said.

To retain workers, it's important to know what they want from their employer, she said, adding that the best way to find out is to ask.