Stop Talking ‘Bout My Generation

Technically I’m a millennial. (Born in 1982, I just make the cutoff.) However, as a 35-year-old, married mother of two living in the suburbs, I don’t identify much with that label. Sitting within arm’s reach of me as I write this are three other millennial co-workers, . . . and while I’m not sure of their stance on the whole “millennial” thing, I do know that when it comes to our top financial concerns, we’re pretty different.

Which is why it isn’t surprising to me that when it comes to providing financial education in the workforce, employers are moving beyond just generational approaches and embracing life-stage communication.

Stop Talking 'Bout My Generation

An International Foundation report found that two-thirds of employers are already offering some type of financial education to help their employees manage personal finances. And while 20% are already assessing their participants to decide what topics are most needed, an even larger number (47%) are planning to do so in the future.

This drive to provide more personalized communication isn’t just for the benefit of the employee. Four out of five employers report that their employees’ personal financial issues are somewhat, very or extremely impactful on their job performance, making financial literacy a topic that shouldn’t be ignored.

Being that it’s National Financial Literacy Month and next week is Money Smart Week, it’s a great time to take a look at the ways you could personalize the financial education initiatives you offer to match your participants’ life stages.

One way plan sponsors can target specific life-stage events is with “someone like me” sample employee personas that workers can relate to. Offer specific financial education communication on each particular life stage, for example: “Meet Alex, he’s fresh in the workforce and is paying off student debt.” Or “Meet Lily, she’s five years from retirement and wants to ensure she’s financially secure.” Be specific—Give each persona a name and a personal and financial focus so employees will relate to the scenario that fits their current financial situation.

Help your plan participants understand their retirement benefits: Retirement 101.

If you host financial education classes for your workforce, consider making them life-stage focused, paying special attention to the financial stress that comes with major life changes like marriage or nearing retirement. Communicate your initiatives often, since messages will resonate with employees at different times as their personal circumstances change.

Educational options like the Foundation’s new online course, Financial Tools for the Trades: A Survival Guide for Apprentices, can provide education geared toward a specific population of your workforce. Knowing apprentices are at the unique life stage of entering a new career, the Financial Tools for the Trades course provides helpful advice in areas like budgeting a paycheck and understanding credit, while providing worksheets that allow each apprentice to set his or her own unique goals.

Looking at my millennial co-workers, it’s easy to see the benefits of life-stage financial literacy communication. Within the past year among us we’ve had new engagements, new homes and new babies—lots of major life stages involving lots of different financial changes. While our big-picture goals of being financially secure may be similar, our day-to-day concerns and financial stressors are not.

According to the Foundation report one in ten employers are currently using life-stage communications in their financial literacy efforts, but I expect this is a trend that will continue to grow.

Brenda Hofmann
Brenda Hofmann
Senior Communications Associate at the International Foundation

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