Talking about my generation
By Phyllis FaloticoHead of Worksite Marketing and true believer that good financial health and well-being for today's working Americans begin with their workplace benefits.
It’s hard to believe today’s labor force is made up of four generations of Americans encompassing Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z.[i] Each one has its own distinct needs and perception of financial well-being. Yet despite generational differences, having access to group voluntary benefits that help improve financial security, specifically life insurance, is valued at any age.
I think we can all agree that life insurance, in general, is often considered an integral component to achieving financial well-being. Nevertheless, a great many multi-generational, working Americans remain underinsured despite the available access at work and benefit education to express its value. And if we want to increase awareness and engagement, we need to help employers understand the varying perceptions within their workforce by combining what we know about these age groups with life stages.
It helps to start with why. From a generational and age perspective, and based on a 2020 LIMRA report, Life and Life Stages, the most prominent reasons why Americans buy life insurance were income replacement (39%), payoff a mortgage (18%), and to transfer wealth (18%). Younger, married consumers under age 45 were more interested in the paying off debt obligations and wealth transfer, while older consumers over age 45 who are single with children and those married without children were more concerned with burial and final expenses. But regardless of generation or life stage, income replacement topped the charts.[ii]
Another finding from the Life and Life Stages study, which is consistent with other research, is that many employees hesitate to enroll in this valuable benefit due to a lack of education or understanding and appreciation of the value of what life insurance provides. So, with that in mind, how can employers build awareness and convey value when encouraging participation in group whole life insurance—a worksite benefit to meet the needs of many to an audience with varying ages and stages of life?
Working Americans may be familiar with the death benefit associated with group whole life, but it’s more than just that. There are features often baked in that may add to its appeal. What may be overlooked are the living benefits—that can provide additional financial well-being throughout their entire lives. And while I cannot speak for all group whole life solutions, I can at least offer a few considerations on how to help employees and employers alike see the value of MassMutual Group Whole Life based on generation, life stages and features.
Defined as Americans born between 1946 and 1964
Notable traits: Competitive and driven, value visibility on the job, learning to adapt to technology, and retiring later than previous generations
Common life stage: Pre-retirement, greater desire to spend time with family and rising healthcare concerns
Features that may appeal to this generation: Guaranteed death benefit, guaranteed level premium and chronic care benefit
Gen X Perspective
Defined as Americans born between 1965 and 1980
Notable traits: Value autonomy, well educated, comfortable with technology, and prefer a clear separation between work and personal life
Common life stage: High earning years, children’s educational costs are concern, caregiving for parents, and managing the family budget
Features that may appeal to this generation: Guaranteed death benefit, guaranteed level premiums, a cash value available for borrowing and Paid-Up Addition feature associated with earned dividends
Defined as Americans born between 1981 to 1996
Notable traits: Prefer to collaborate, seek work with meaning, digital adept, and value actionable feedback
Common life stage: Building a career, newly married or younger families, seeking to own or recently purchased real estate, and burdened by educational debt
Features that may appeal to this generation: Guaranteed and affordable level premium, opportunity to build cash value, and earned dividends options choices to take the cash or increase death benefit
Gen Z Perspective
Defined as Americans born after 1997
Notable traits: Seek both stability and flexibility, value social responsibility and diversity, expect technology to be interwoven into most activities.
Common life stage: Entering the workforce, most likely single, seeking to retire earlier than previous generations, burdened by educational debt
Features that may appeal to this generation: Locking in a low-cost premium for life, establishing financial protection today to avoid paying more for the same coverage later
So how else can we apply what we know? With benefit enrollment season just around the corner, one of the most effective ways to improve awareness is to build a robust communication plan that is relevant, engaging, and shareable. To reach diverse age groups, utilize the preferred channels of communication associated with each generation to cater messaging to what’s important based on life stage. For example, hosting a benefits meeting may have greater appeal to Boomers with greater emphasis and education on the Chronic Care Benefit*. Whereas online product videos may have greater appeal to Millennials with more emphasis on affordability of premiums the sooner they begin coverage.
Regardless of the make-up of your workforce, your benefits carrier is there to improve product education and the enrollment experience. You don’t have to do it alone!
Together, we can build awareness for all ages and improve the financial well-being for working Americans today and tomorrow.
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FOR FINANCIAL PROFESSIONALS AND EMPLOYERS. NOT FOR USE WITH THE PUBLIC.
Group Whole Life Insurance (GPWL), (policy/certificate forms MM-GPWL-2014 and MM-GCWL-2014, and MM-GPWL-2014(NC) and MM-GCWL-2014 (NC) in North Carolina), is level-premium, participating permanent life insurance. The GPWL policy and GCWL certificates are issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, MA 01111-0001.
*Not available in all states
[i] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-1. Employment status of the civilian population by sex and age (seasonally adjusted), June 2022
[ii] Life and Life Stages, LIMRA, 2020.