If only every­one val­ued the same things, ben­e­fits plan­ning would be a lot eas­i­er.  If. Only.

How­ev­er, most employ­ers have five gen­er­a­tions of employ­ees active in the work­place who want dif­fer­ent things.  With gen­er­a­tion gaps span­ning more than 75 years, find­ing a one-size-fits-all ben­e­fits pack­age can be chal­leng­ing.  How­ev­er, there are cer­tain things to con­sid­er to tai­lor employ­ee ben­e­fits for each generation.

The Five Gen­er­a­tions in the Workforce:

Gen­er­a­tion Z: 1997–2012, (5% of workforce)
Mil­len­ni­als: 1981–1996, (35% of workforce)
Gen­er­a­tion X: 1965–1980, (33% of workforce)
Baby Boomers: 1946–1964, (25% of workforce)
Tra­di­tion­al­ists or The Silent Gen­er­a­tion: 1928–1945, (2% of workforce)

Regard­less of their gen­er­a­tion, every employ­ee wants tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits like time off, health­care insur­ance, and retire­ment plan­ning. To cre­ate a ben­e­fits pro­gram with multi­gen­er­a­tional appeal, employ­ers should first think about their employ­ees’ shared con­cerns and vary­ing needs.

One strat­e­gy for man­ag­ing mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tion is cus­tomiz­ing ben­e­fits offer­ings to core demo­graph­ics.  For exam­ple, would your staff val­ue on-site child-care?  Would a retire­ment plan that high­lights the need for sav­ing ear­ly or tuition assis­tance be rel­e­vant for your employ­ees? Think about who your employ­ees are and which ben­e­fits are most like­ly going to sup­port their success.

Many employ­ees are con­cerned about their finan­cial well­ness.  Sev­en out of 10 new col­lege grad­u­ates each owe $37,000 or more.  These unprece­dent­ed lev­els of stu­dent debt make finan­cial con­cerns a pri­ma­ry con­cern for Mil­len­ni­als and Gen Z.  Gen Xers share finan­cial con­cerns as they look to pay for their children’s edu­ca­tion. While fear of not sav­ing enough for retire­ment is a con­cern for all age groups, it is most con­cern­ing to Baby Boomers and Tra­di­tion­al­ists for whom retire­ment is around the corner.

Gen X val­ues ben­e­fits that sup­port bet­ter work-life bal­ance, such as care­tak­er sup­port, flex time, well-being and sup­port and finan­cial pro­tec­tion.  Mean­while, Gen Zers favor ben­e­fits that sup­port career growth, men­tal health and diver­si­ty, equi­ty, and inclu­sion pro­grams and perks that relate to job secu­ri­ty, a key con­cern for this generation.

While every gen­er­a­tion faces uncer­tain­ty at dif­fer­ent stages of life, Mil­len­ni­als are more like­ly to pur­chase legal insur­ance com­pared to oth­er gen­er­a­tions. Many Mil­len­ni­als start­ed work­ing dur­ing a reces­sion which has great­ly affect­ed how they view their long-term careers. Mil­len­ni­als have adopt­ed an “any­thing can hap­pen” men­tal­i­ty and are will­ing to pay for peace of mind to be finan­cial­ly stable.

To han­dle the unex­pect­ed, health, den­tal, vision and life insur­ance are all val­ued tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits and are espe­cial­ly impor­tant to Baby Boomers and Tra­di­tion­al­ists.   Some Tra­di­tion­al­ists and Boomers may not be full-time employ­ees.  Com­pa­nies employ­ing more of this gen­er­a­tion of work­ers should offer some sort of well­ness ben­e­fits like gym mem­ber­ships or health services.

Beyond the core offer­ings like health care and retire­ment sav­ings plans, employ­ers can offer a menu of non-med­ical vol­un­tary ben­e­fits that employ­ees can select based on their indi­vid­ual needs.  Those might include legal insur­ance, care­giv­er leave, stu­dent debt assis­tance or tuition reim­burse­ment, on-site child-care, pet insur­ance, finan­cial coun­sel­ing, acci­dent insur­ance and more.

Whether a Boomer or a Gen Xer, all employ­ees want to feel con­fi­dent and informed about their health­care deci­sions. Qual­i­ty health­care that is acces­si­ble and afford­able is a pri­or­i­ty for all gen­er­a­tions.  Cre­at­ing a cus­tomiz­able ben­e­fits expe­ri­ence that rec­og­nizes the diver­si­ty across the multi­gen­er­a­tional work­force will like­ly result in employ­ee reten­tion and increased job sat­is­fac­tion as well as mak­ing recruit­ing top tal­ent eas­i­er.  By focus­ing on com­mu­ni­ca­tion, the ben­e­fits mix, and under­stand­ing what is impor­tant to each gen­er­a­tion, your com­pa­ny may well be on its way to a suc­cess­ful ben­e­fits strategy.