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Millennials vs. Baby Boomers: Managing Across Generations

Jeff Griffin

As new generations enter the workforce, managers must learn how to lead diverse groups with various backgrounds, values, work ethics, expectations and motivations.  

Consider that our current workforce is comprised primarily of three generations: Baby Boomers, Gen-xers and Millennials (not counting the bookend demographic groups of Generation Z and The Silent Generation). Managing these different generational groups requires getting into their mindsets to understand what makes them tick — and what makes them more productive and satisfied at work.

Battle of the Boomers and Millennials

Each generational group in the workplace today has been influenced by a combination of profound societal events, demographic trends and cultural phenomena unique to the time in which they came of age.

Because these differences are most pronounced between the oldest and youngest in our workforce, we’ll focus on baby boomers and millennials — even though Gen-Xers are a unique demographic all to themselves.

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Topics: Multi-Generational, millennials, Employee Retention

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The Digital Divide – How to Communicate with Disconnected Employees

David Rook

Employers oftentimes worry about how to tailor employee communication for those who are digitally disconnected — meaning they don’t have access to email or the internet — but this concern is largely blown out of proportion.

According to Pew Research, only 11 percent of Americans aren’t using the internet. Research also suggests that “non-adoption [of the internet] is correlated to a number of demographic variables, including age, educational attainment, household income and community type.”

As the numbers suggest, internet adoption is picking up steam, leaving fewer and fewer people disconnected every day — especially among older Americans and those with less education. The research center points out that 86 percent of senior citizens didn’t use the internet in the year 2000, but that the current data shows a dramatic increase in older adults’ online activity (only 34 percent don’t use the internet now). Among those who didn’t finish high school, non-adopters dropped a similar amount during the same time period, going from 81 percent to 35 percent.

Regardless, it’s wise for employers who want to ensure no one in the workforce is overlooked to deploy both digital and more traditional methods of employee communication. In addition, because digital access spans multiple device types (computers, smartphones, tablets) and various ways to attain connectivity (home internet, public internet, cellular data), it’s important to take the following into account when connecting to these audiences:

Employee Communication for the Connection-Challenged

Some employees may be connected, but face some challenges in doing so. They aren’t totally cut off from the internet because they have library access or use the web browser on their smartphone, but they’re not particularly internet-savvy either. Here are some suggestions for making sure these employees can read the communications you’re sending:

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Corporate Communication, Employee Communications, employee communication, Communications, Multi-Generational

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How to Provide Benefits for a Multigenerational Workforce

Jeff Griffin

Today, many employers are facing an interesting phenomenon companies have never experienced before. There are at least three generations making up the bulk of workforce, with two other generations filling things out at both ends of the age spectrum. Each of these generations has a different set of priorities, which presents unique management and employee benefits challenges for employers. Each of these generations is influenced by the period of time in which they were raised; their work lives are shaped by world events, cultural phenomena and personal experiences.

How is one employer supposed to make three (or even five) generations of people happy? Managing employee benefits across a multigenerational workforce might not be easy, but it’s certainly not impossible.

Defining the Generations

Whether you have 50 employees or 500, chances are you have a mix of generations working for you. So let’s first discuss the various generations before diving into multi-generational benefit design. Here's a breakdown of these five groups.

The Silent Generation

Born between 1928 and 1945, a good portion of this generation grew up (or was born) during the Great Depression and were named such because, at the time, it was believed children were meant to be “seen and not heard.” The older portion might have served toward the end of World War II. People in this generation are at least 72 years old as of 2017. This portion of the workforce is rather small at this point — about 2 percent.

Because this entire generation is above the traditional “retirement age,” most of the people still working in this age bracket are in high level positions, while others are running their own businesses or still working in a family-run company. That said, there are some who work in part-time, hourly and seasonal positions primarily to keep themselves busy and to interact with people.

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Topics: Multi-Generational, millennials, Employee Benefits

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What Baby Boomers Retiring Means for Your Employee Benefits

David Rook

Human resources personnel are used to helping older employees transition into retirement. But now that baby boomers are retiring en masse, it seems to be happening all the time. In fact, as many as 10,000 baby boomers are putting in their retirement papers every single day, and while not all 10,000 will be in your company, you’ll probably be dealing with quite a few.

As all these boomers retire, your employee benefits package may need to undergo some changes and you may experience a shift in the cost of providing medical benefits as well. Here are some of the things you need to keep in mind as the baby boomers on your staff begin to retire.

Employee Benefits and Medicare

As your baby boomer employees near retirement age, some of their spouses might be a step ahead of them. The way employee benefits work with Medicare is sometimes complicated — especially when it comes to HSAs, which may be a major theme of the bulk of questions posed by those looking to retire. If your employees need to learn more about how to navigate Medicare, and if they should drop their spouse from your employer-sponsored coverage, make sure you’re as informed as possible regarding the regulations at hand before advising them.  

A frequently asked question by those turning 65 concerns penalties. People who are still working and enrolled in an employer-sponsored health plan aren’t likely to incur penalties for enrolling in Medicare late. However, it’s common for people turning 65 to enroll in Medicare Part A even if they’re still enrolled in their employer-sponsored program because it’s free (provided that the person has worked and paid into Medicare for at least ten years).

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Medicare, Retirement Planning, HSA regulations, Multi-Generational

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The Changing Definition of Work-Life Balance

David Rook

The term “work-life balance” has gotten quite a bit of buzz in recent years, thanks in part to the new priorities millennials are bringing to the workplace. This idea captures the desire to work and grow in a career, but also the desire to enjoy one’s life outside of work — with the goal of creating a meaningful sense of balance between the two.

However, it’s not just millennials who crave a healthy balance between their working lives and time spent outside the office. Because the workforce is currently juggling three different generations (not counting the bookend demographic groups of Generation Z and The Silent Generation) who view the working world in different ways, it’s important to define what “work-life balance” truly means to each of them, as it may change how employers can effectively motivate employees.

For example, employers might consider adjusting incentive programs to accommodate different needs and desires among several different generations of workers.

How Baby Boomers Feel About Work-Life Balance

The baby boomer generation encompasses the group of people born after the Second World War — between the years of 1946 and 1964. Although baby boomers are frequently described as the largest generation in history, Pew Research reports that millennials have now overtaken boomers as the largest living generation. Millennials also make up the largest demographic in the workforce today.   

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Topics: Multi-Generational, millennials, Employee Benefits, Employee Retention, work life balance

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