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June 19, 2020

Understanding the Multigenerational Workforce to Enhance Benefits

Understanding the Multigenerational Workforce to Enhance Benefits header.

Understanding the generations that make up the current workforce is critical for employers to determine the best mix of benefits to offer in order to recruit and retain top-quality employees. Following is an overview of the generations that make up the majority of today’s workforce and their preferred benefits, as well as benefit preferences that cross generations.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964; workforce composition: ~29%)

This generation is often referred to as “the hardest-working generation,” implying their work-life balance may be skewed toward work. Baby boomers were hit hard by the 2008 recession, and many are stuck working later in life than anticipated. This generation is also caring for their aging family members, further extending the retirement goal posts.

Preferred benefits: Remote work opportunities | Flexible scheduling | Caregiving benefits

Generation X (1965-1980; workforce composition: ~34%)

This generation is more tech savvy than previous generations, having been the first adopters of new technology in the 90s. They don’t value work as much as they do a strong work-life balance. Gen X is sometimes called the “sandwich generation” due to their responsibilities to care for both younger and older family members.

Preferred benefits: Remote work opportunities | Flexible scheduling | Caregiving benefits

Millennials (1981-1996; workforce composition: ~34%)

They came of age during the dot-com boom and grew up alongside the internet, making them very tech savvy. Millennials saw their parents struggle during the 2008 recession and many now struggle with their own student loans. These financial burdens disillusioned many from the daily nine-to-five grind.

Preferred benefits: Flexible scheduling | Remote work opportunities | Student loan repayment | Financial planning assistance | Ongoing training opportunities

Generation Z (1997-Present; workforce composition: ~1%)

Gen Z has seen previous generations struggle to make ends meet despite putting in hard work. This makes them more wellbeing oriented, expecting mental health and similar workplace benefits to offset workplace stressors. Additionally, this generation never knew life before the internet, making them quick learners when it comes to technology.

Preferred benefits: Comprehensive employee assistance program benefits | Wellbeing program | Flexible scheduling | Remote work opportunities

Our in-depth employee benefits benchmark report provides insights to help you understand how health plan design decisions vary across generations.

Preferred Benefits Across Generations

While it’s critical to understand the different generations’ varying needs and wants in order to offer the ideal benefit plans, it’s also apparent that some desired benefits overlap age groups.

  1. Caregiving

Over 43 million Americans have provided unpaid caregiving for an adult or child within the last year, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. In many cases, this is done in addition to full-time employment obligations. Employers are increasingly embracing this problem; caregiving benefits are now among the “top 10 employee health and wellness priorities for employers,” according to a survey by Northeast Business Group on Health and AARP. And it’s a wise decision to offer these benefits, as employees’ personal caregiving responsibilities on top of work obligations can escalate job burnout, decrease performance and productivity, and ultimately force employees to choose between work and family.

These benefits might include subsidies or reimbursements for caregiving services, like day care or eldercare. They could also include educational classes on caregiving or counseling services for caregivers. Survey employees to determine which options they find most valuable.

  1. Flexible Scheduling

Flexible scheduling is another benefit that seems universally prized. As an example, 51% of employees said they’d change jobs for one that offered flextime, according to Gallup.

By offering flexible scheduling options, employers demonstrate how much they respect their employees’ other obligations and life outside of work. Given that employees still work the same number of hours in a week, flexible scheduling offers employers great potential reward for little risk. Since fewer than half of employers offer flextime, according to Gallup, this could be the affordable differentiator employers are looking for.

  1. Remote Work Opportunities

Employees want more flexibility but not always in terms of scheduling; many desire the ability to work remotely. In fact, 35% of workers said they’d change jobs for one that offered offsite working opportunities full time, and 37% said they’d jump ship for an employer that offered those benefits part time, according to Gallup. Offering such arrangements can help accommodate employees who might otherwise need to take paid time off. Moreover, these benefits could help employers’ attraction and retention efforts.

  1. Ongoing Training & Development

Many workers leave their jobs when they run out of room to grow. Others might stick around but end up unmotivated and less productive. This reality is spurring workers to vocalize how much they care about professional development. In fact, 70% of employees said they’d leave their workplace for another that invests in employee learning and development, according to a study from The Harris Poll. And that sentiment is shared across age groups. A separate LinkedIn survey found that 36% of Gen Zers, 25% of millennials, 20% of Gen Xers and 21% of baby boomers consider employee training a “top factor” when searching for jobs. Beyond the recruitment and retention aspect, investing in employees’ professional growth yields higher quality work and greater job satisfaction.

  1. Traditional Core Benefits

When it comes to benefits every generation wants, traditional benefits will almost always take the cake. These typically include health, dental and vision plans. Employees, regardless of age, have come to expect these benefits. A survey from the American Institute of CPAs found that 80% of employees would keep their job with benefits even if they were offered a higher paying position without benefits.

Conclusion

Knowing which benefits to offer employees is rarely easy, and aligning employee preferences with your budget can be difficult, especially when your workforce spans multiple generations. As a result, it can be tempting to choose a one-size-fits-all benefits plan simply to get it done. However, rushing through benefits selection can cause more problems than it solves.

Choosing benefits that matter to multigenerational employees is a worthwhile pursuit, contributing greatly to attraction, retention and engagement. A qualified benefits advisor can be of great assistance in navigating the complexities of doing so.

Speak with CBIZ Inc. today to discuss potential plan adjustments that may benefit your employees.

 

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