The youngest generation in the workforce has become more engaged in the past two years learning about the benefits that can help protect them financially, according to a new study.

The study of Generation Y workers, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of employee benefits provider Unum, found that the percentage who said they are extremely or very familiar with retirement accounts grew from 31 percent to 43 percent in the past two years. The percentage of members of generation Y who said they are extremely or very familiar with life insurance jumped from 31 percent to 44 percent. The percentage who said they are extremely or very familiar with disability insurance increased from 16 percent to 24 percent.

The workplace continues to be the most reliable source for benefits information, with 68 percent of Generation Y employees citing it as a top resource. But they are also more likely to seek out information about financial protection benefits online than they were just two years ago.

The study showed that the percentage who said they use insurance company Web sites to learn about benefits providers grew from 32 percent in 2008 to 44 percent in 2010. The percentage who said they visit consumer advice Web sites grew from 21 percent to 27 percent. The percentage who said they participate in online forums or blogs increased from 7 percent to 12 percent.

And as their use of online resources grew, Gen Y’s reliance on family and friends as a source of benefits information diminished. Between 2008 and 2010, the percentage who said they rely on parents for benefits information fell from 60 percent to 42 percent. The percentage who said they cite friends as a resource for benefits guidance dropped from 30 percent to 21 percent.

The survey also showed that the scope of a provider’s benefits is an increasingly important element for Generation Y when they’re choosing a carrier. In 2010, 55 percent said scope was an important selection factor, up from 44 percent in 2008.

The 2010 survey was conducted online from Aug. 17-19, 2010, among 387 Gen Y respondents ages 18 to 32 employed full- or part-time. The 2008 survey was conducted from Aug. 12-14, 2008, among 357 Gen Y respondents ages 18 to 30 employed full- or part-time.

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