Just a few years ago, thinking about union health care for younger workers was a low priority for many boards. After all, trustees were facing the enormous challenge of accommodating an aging workforce as baby boomers — then the country's largest generation — began to experience increased health concerns and transition into retirement.
Now that millennials make up the greatest share of the U.S. workforce, it's time to start focusing on the needs and desires they and the younger Generation Z have when it comes to health care.
A New Generation of Union Membership
According to The Nation, younger workers are eager to join unions. In fact, they've been responsible for keeping unions active as more and more baby boomers exit the workforce. Union membership actually increased in 2017, and the union movement has become stronger among younger workers thanks to a desire for the protections that unions afford them.
This doesn't come as a surprise, considering that many millennial and Gen Z workers face precarity and stagnant wages — issues which unions address.
What Benefits Do Millennials and Gen Zers Want?
According to Forbes, millennials value health care benefits more than some of the trendier perks designed to attract young talent. Younger generations may appreciate having snacks in the break room and free dog-walking services, but good health care benefits is their real priority when it comes to employee benefits.
More specifically, millennials and Gen Zers are more interested in preventive care than older generations. They value healthy eating and will proactively use the care offerings that come with their union's health plan. Union health care for these generations should include benefits likes screenings and vaccinations, gym memberships and counseling services.
And don't forget about technology. Compared to older generations, millennials and Gen Zers are more likely to seek health insurance information and resources through mobile phone apps and websites while evaluating enrollment options. So look for plans that allow younger members to manage their health through technology.
As you continually reassess your offerings, keep in mind that baby boomers aren't out of the workforce, which is why it's important to strike a balance that satisfies the care needs of all generations.
Julia Passwater is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Passwater earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Indiana University Bloomington, and she earned a Juris Doctor degree from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. After earning her law degree, Passwater spent over a decade enforcing federal employment laws for the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Today, Passwater writes about topics such as politics, government, employment law and work in the 21st century.