If you think that the departure of the Baby Boomers — the much-analyzed silver tsunami —will take some of the heat off of companies to provide employee benefits, you’d better think again. Generation Y, the youngest generation in the workplace, is taking an increased interest in how they can build and protect their financial lives, a new study reports.

And they’ve got the numbers to be able to swing their weight around at the bargaining table. The Generation  Y cohort (ages 18-32) numbers about 75 million —nearly the size of the 80-million strong Baby Boomer pig making its way through the python.

This group is displaying a mature interest in planning for the future, according to an online poll sponsored by Unum, a benefits provider, which measured the change in responses from 2008 to 2010 to questions on benefits .

The percentage of members of Generation Y who said they are extremely/very familiar with life insurance jumped from 31 percent to 44 percent, while those who said they are extremely/very familiar with retirement accounts posted a nearly identical hop from 31 percent to 43 percent. Nearly a quarter of this generation (24 percent) said it is extremely/very familiar with disability insurance, an increase from 16 percent.

“Members of this generation are entering the work force and building careers during a time of economic uncertainty and intense debate over health care reform ,” said Barbara Nash, vice president of corporate research for Unum. “This generation of workers is a large and influential group coming of age at a time when the benefits landscape is changing quickly. Understanding what drives their decision-making and how we can meet their benefits needs on their terms is critical.”

Though the work place continues to be their most reliable source for benefits information, with 68 percent of this group citing it as a top resource, they are increasingly supplementing that information from online sources such as insurance company websites, consumer advice websites and blogs and online forums.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.