Engaging the Millennial Participant Population

by Kayla Huff, Administrative Associate – Oswald Financial, Inc. 

Who millennials are

The millennials are the generation born between 1981-1996 and make up more than a quarter of the U.S. population, already surpassing the Baby Boomers in numbers. The accusation of millennials being lazy might make employers think they aren’t interested in retirement plans. But don’t let these broad generalizations fool you because millennials have proven themselves to be an innovative, adaptable generation who are actually very engaged when it comes to investing in their futures. This tech-savvy age group constitutes a key consumer segment that keep companies busy figuring out how to appeal to this generation.

Why millennial participants matter to your plan

With 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring each day and Millennials taking over the workforce, it’s important to consider their expectations when it comes to retirement when considering how your retirement plan is structured and run. In a recent survey, 76% of millennials responded that the retirement benefits offered by a prospective employer are a major factor in their decision on whether to accept a job offer. Millennials who participate in an employer retirement plan and are offered a company match are more likely to save more than 5% of their paycheck than Gen-X’ers.

Although day-to-day life may be different for this generation, statistics show that Millennials have life goals similar to other generations.

Millennials, however, may have a different path to pursuing those same goals due to a number of challenges that previous generations did not have to face, as well as different priorities.  For example, the Millennial generation faces a greater burden of college debts, changing attitudes toward home ownership/rent inflation, and health-care cost inflation.

It is important to note that in contrast to certain stereotypes, Millennials are careful with their money. They witnessed their parents’ distress when the stock market crashed, retirement investments vanished, and unemployment rates skyrocketed. That experience has made this generation very aware of the risks involved in planning for retirement and the importance of having money saved. Even though this generation is money motivated, studies have shown that only about 1/3rd of millennials are saving for retirement and the other 2/3rd are failing to save for retirement because of lack of access to either an employer retirement plan or the proper education and financial advice. There is a strong desire to change those statistics and plan sponsors should, therefore, consider programs and guidance that could help Millennials save more and reach their goals. When polled, 64% of millennials said they would benefit from financial advice and 93% said they would use a financial wellness program at work if one was offered. Having the right blend of benefits and plan design features in place could prove to be valuable for your organization when it comes to attracting and retaining Millennial workers.

Tactics to attract and engage your Millennial workforce

  • Employers should consider benefits such as company match, Health Savings Accounts, and Roth 401(k)s
  • Some businesses have started to offer college debt assistance and repayment as a benefit
  • Millennials expect that the retirement plan offered by their employer will be digitally accessible, easy to use, and hassle-free.
  • Target-date funds remain popular due to its simple “set it and forget it” feature
  • Consider auto enrollment with an auto escalation to increase millennial participation
  • Provide ongoing education and awareness. An informed participant is an active participant.
  • Create attention-getting content such as videos and social media messaging
  • Make sure you are offering an effective financial wellness program to keep millennials engaged and informed. Consider a program that offers professional financial advice.


This information is not intended as authoritative guidance or tax or legal advice. The Roth 401(k) offers tax deferral on any earnings in the account. Withdrawals from the account may be tax free, as long as they are considered qualified. Limitations and restrictions may apply.

Withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ or prior to the account being opened for 5 years, whichever is later, may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax. Future tax laws can change at any time and may impact the benefits of Roth 401(k)s. Their tax treatment may change.

An investment in a target date fund is not guaranteed at any time, including on or after the target date, the approximate date when an investor in the fund would retire and leave the workforce. Target date funds gradually shift their emphasis from more aggressive investments to more conservative ones based on the target date.