Employers – this blog is directed at you.
From my over 30 years in the HR and employee benefits space, I know that there is a strong desire to attract and retain talent. Therefore, most benefit programs are built to attract the “young” ones. You know – the up-and-coming; the bright shining next generation (whatever letter they are calling it today); the highly educated right out of “name the ivy league school. I get it. Talent is hard to find and harder to keep. Once you get the talent, then you have to nurture it and manage it. Something that most companies don’t really make the investment in learning how to do but that is a different blog…..
But what about the “older folks”. You know, the crew over 49 years of age. The ones that aren’t depending upon family planning benefits because that ship has sailed for most of them. The ones that aren’t concerned about student loan repayments for themselves and really are concerned about 401(k) contributions. Do employers today really meet their workforce where they are at? I would argue that the emphasis has moved away from retaining to attracting and attracting usually is about younger employees. Therefore, the benefits that really help your older workforce (and I would argue typically more skilled and more costly to replace) are lagging behind. Now, if you are reading this and saying to yourself, “no, not us!” then you are an anomaly. If you look at the MetLife 2023 Benefits Trend Study, 55% of people say that they are going to postpone retirement and work longer because they are afraid that they won’t have enough money to retire on. Said another way – most people have not been encouraged to plan or save. They live paycheck to paycheck. That also means that your workforce might be getting older than you think. Ok – how to fix this.
If people will be working longer, benefit programs could benefit from some targeted education. One area that is hugely helpful is Medicare education. There are very specific rules and information that your employees must understand in order to avoid paying penalties later and spending more than they have to for healthcare. If you are an employer with over 20 employees, this should be part of your benefits education package. No, you are not agreeing to offer retiree health coverage. You are simply helping your employees (or those with parents that are Medicare age) understand the “rules of the road” around Medicare. Not only will understanding these rules potentially save your employee hundreds of dollars in late fees over their time enrolled in a Medicare plan, understanding the new coverage options and plans can help them prepare and budget for healthcare expenses when they become a Medicare beneficiary.
If you don’t offer a Medicare 101 class – on campus or virtually – then that is a good place to start. Also, have a resource for people when you hand them the “gold watch” on the way out the door that they can call and talk with to help with a Medicare strategy. There are numerous other benefit options/plans you can deploy that can help your older workforce and if you are interested in those, I am happy to chat. But if you just started with some basic information and education, that could go a long way.