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.