While many employees obtain benefits information from their employers, another source of information, at least for Gen Y (ages 18 to 34), is family members and friends, according to survey results from Colonial Life.

Harris Interactive, on behalf of Colonial Life, surveyed 2,608 U.S. adults age 18 and older, among which 1,117 were employed full-time or part-time and enrolled in an employer-provided or spouse's benefits plan.

Naturally, employees rely on the workplace (e.g., boss, co-worker, human resources or employer communications) as their number one source of benefits information, but Gen Y employees are significantly less likely to rely on the workplace for information than all other age groups (51 percent vs. 69 percent of those ages 34 to 44, 51 percent vs. 75 percent of those ages 45 to 54, and 51 percent vs. 71 percent of those ages 55+. )

In turn, they are significantly more likely to rely on family and friends than other insured workers do (40 percent vs. 29 percent of those ages 35 to 44, 40 percent vs. 16 percent of those ages 45 to 54, and 40 percent vs. 12 percent of those ages 55+.) And, they are significantly less likely to rely on online resources (50 percent) than insured workers ages 45 to 54 (63 percent).

"While we expected the workplace to be the primary source of benefits information for employees, we were surprised to learn that Gen Y workers rely more on family and friends for this information than their older colleagues do," said Stephen Bygott, assistant VP, marketing analysis and programs, for Colonial Life. "Despite their reputation for being constantly wired, Gen Y is less likely to rely on insurance company and consumer advice websites than any other age group of workers," says Bygott. "And they're no more likely to rely on online forums or blogs than anyone else. But Gen Y has different needs, expectations and preferences than previous generations, so companies need to take a different approach when it comes to designing and communicating their benefits packages. Those who don't consider changes could risk losing their competitive edge and may be left behind."

Other findings include:

• Gen Y is more optimistic about future coverage at work. Almost half (45 percent) think most companies will continue to make the same type of benefits available at work in the next five years, which is significantly more than all other age groups (19 percent of those 35 to 44, 17 percent of those 45 to 54, and 16 percent of those age 55+.)

• Gen Y is less optimistic about their retirement resources. Only one third (33 percent) think government programs like Social Security will be available to them when they retire.

• They are also less optimistic about company-sponsored pension plans being available to them (24 percent vs. 34 percent of those ages 35 to 44, 24 percent vs. 37 percent of those ages 45 to 54, and 24 percent vs. 50 percent of those ages 55+).

• They are also less optimistic about company-sponsored retirement plans being available when they retire (51 percent vs. 60 percent of those ages 35 to 44, 51 percent vs. 63 percent of those ages 45 to 54, and 51 percent vs. 66 percent of those ages 55+).

• Gen Y insured employees, more than other age groups, say that they expect family assistance will be available to them for retirement support (17 percent vs. 8 percent of those ages 35 to 44, 7 percent vs. 6 percent of those ages 45 to 54, and 7 percent vs. 3 percent of those ages 55+.

-- This article first appeared on Insurance Networking News.