Benefits That Matter Most, Part Two: The Multi-Generational Workforce
Welcome to Part Two of our blog series “Benefits That Matter Most." While Part One focused on Millennials, here we’ll focus on the impact of employing a workforce whose ages span multiple generations. What is the impact of multi-generational workforces on employee benefits? What special challenges do employers face with a multi-generational workforce, and how can employers meet the varying needs of their employees in such an environment?
Work by the Numbers
- 12.7 percent of the work force will be 16-24 years of age
- 63.5 percent of the workforce will be 25-54 years of age
- 23.8 percent of the work force will be 54 years old and above
The Challenges of a Multi-Generational Environment
Benefits planning for multi-generational employees presents a number of challenges. Perhaps the most obvious challenge is trying to meet the needs of each segment of the employee population. For instance, while older workers are gearing up for retirement, Millennials are focusing on paying off student loan debt. While Baby Boomers are looking after their aged parents, Gen-Xers may be starting families of their own, or planning for their children’s college education.
It is not just the personal circumstances of different generational groups that vary widely. There is also a disparity between the basic viewpoint of different segments of the workforce. For instance, consider these interesting statistics:
- According to a study by IBM, 25 percent of Millennials say that their top career goal is to “make a positive impact on my organization,” a few percentage points higher than either Boomers or Gen-Xers.
- According to a recent LinkedIn study, 68 percent of Millennials would sacrifice a friendship with a colleague if it meant getting a promotion, whereas 62 percent of Baby Boomers would not even consider it.
- The same LinkedIn study found that “67 percent of Millennials are likely to share personal details including salary and relationships and family issues with co-workers, compared to only about one third of Baby Boomers.”
- The percentage breakdown of age groups who would "often recommend their organization as a great place to work" is: 59 percent of Millennials, 51 percent of Gen-Xers, and 47 percent of Baby Boomers.
These statistics illustrate just how differently various age groups within the workplace embrace varied life and work philosophies.
Meeting the Challenge with Smart Strategies
If a benefits plan is to be welcomed by all age groups in the workplace, much thought must be put into its design. The good news is that there are some employee benefits that have a broad appeal across all groups. Here are a few of the top benefits valued by all age groups:
- Competitive, performance-driven compensation packages
- Flexible work hours that promote better life/work balance
- Free healthcare coverage for employees with optional add-in of family members for a reasonable additional fee
- Voluntary benefits such as dental, vision, and life insurance
- Discount programs
- Financial counseling services tailored according to individual needs
- Wellness programs
- PTO offerings which include time off to care either for personal needs or family needs
- Matching Benefits to Multiple Generations
In addition to the widely coveted benefits already listed, each generation of the workforce has unique needs and issues to be addressed. Benefits packages that offer a great amount of flexibility and choice work well to keep a multi-generational workforce happy and willing to stay with your company for the long-term. Here is a quick look at some commonly desired age-specific benefits.
While their parents generally retired in their late sixties, Baby Boomers are rethinking the traditional retirement strategy. Many of them intend to skip traditional retirement altogether, in favor of reduced work hours or perhaps even embarking on a totally new career. Because life expectancy has increased somewhat, Baby Boomers may be worried about whether they have enough materially to retire in comfort. Some benefits Baby Boomers value are:
- Retirement counseling and aggressive savings options
- Long-term care insurance
- Home warranty insurance
- Life insurance
- Critical illness insurance
Gen-Xers are faced with a variety of issues that require ingenuity and a flexible approach. They are raising children, caring for aged parents, paying mortgages, and trying to figure out a retirement strategy that works. Some of the most popular non-traditional benefits that Gen-Xers appreciate are:
- Flexible spending accounts
- Low-deductible health insurance
- Child care options
- Homeowner’s insurance
- Long-term care insurance
- Comprehensive retirement counseling and savings options
- Life insurance
Millennials are interested in finding a path to a reasonable life/work balance. They are burdened by lingering student loan debt, potentially insecure about their job readiness and long-term prospects, and intent on making choices that will promote health and wellness, both physically and financially. Some benefits Millennials value include:
- Tuition assistance for continuing education
- ID theft protection
- Employee mentoring programs
- Education regarding retirement savings
- Gym or wellness center memberships
- Travel rewards
- Accident insurance
- Short-term disability insurance
Unique Circumstances Call for Unique Solutions
Given the complexity of the multi-generational workforce, a one-size-fits-all approach falls far short of the ideal. A deep understanding of the individual life issues facing different generational groups is required to attract, engage, and retain employees at all levels.
Complicating the issue are such things as ACA compliance, tighter budgeting requirements, and issues with bridging the communication gaps that may exist between disparate age groups.
If you would like help in navigating the ever-changing landscape of employer sponsored benefits, please contact us. As leaders in the field of benefits counseling, we can work with you to design and implement a benefits package that meets the needs of your business as well as your individual employees.
If you are enjoying this blog series, be sure to come back and check out the third part of “Benefits That Matter Most,” which will consider the challenges inherent in multi-cultural workplaces. And if you missed our first installment on Millenials, you can read it by clicking here.