Millennials,Gen Xers,Baby,Boomers...Oh My!

Today’s businesses have the unique challenge of managing up to five different generations in the workplace at once. With so many different age groups in one place, there are bound to be disagreements over the best management style, how to get things done, and of course, employee benefits. Employers must figure out a way to offer a benefits package that covers the many different needs of each of these generations.

 

Before you can learn how to offer benefits that all three generations will approve of, you have to learn what each generation expects from their employer. Although there are five generations in the workplace, let’s focus on the three that make up the largest percentage of the workforce: Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials.

BABY BOOMERS

This generation is characterized by their hard work and loyalty to their employer. They respect the hierarchy of corporate organizations, and believe you have to work hard to get to the top of the corporate ladder. Although they know the value of hard work, they prefer working individually and have not been as open to the new, collaborative workspace trend as their younger co-workers.

In exchange for their decades of service, Baby Boomers expect a lot out of their benefits. Members of this generation are in the final years of their employment, so they are focused on saving for retirement above all else. They may also have started to focus more on their health over the last few years, so the more coverage you can offer in terms of health insurance, the better.

Because of their traditional views, Baby Boomers also rank salary high on the list of important benefits. Baby Boomers still respond well to performance incentives, end of the year bonuses, and raises based on merit.

GEN X

Unlike Baby Boomers, Generation X tends to question authority and put work on the backburner if something arises in their personal lives. On the other hand, Gen Xers are more open to change than Baby Boomers, so they are often seen as less rigid than their older colleagues. They are known as steady, reliable workers who witnessed tough times during the Great Recession and know how fortunate they are to have a job.

What do they expect from their employer? Research shows Gen X’s most valued benefit is a 401(k) with matching contributions. These level-headed workers are already planning for their retirement even though some of them still have decades left before they will be able to retire. A competitive salary is also important to members of Gen X, as is the opportunity to increase this salary through promotions and new job assignments. In fact, if you do not offer this generation room to develop and grow into new positions, they may begin to look for employment elsewhere.

Although Gen X is very concerned about job security, they also want to be able to find a job that provides them with somewhat of a work-life balance. This means Gen Xers may appreciate paid vacation and sick days, as well as flexible working hours.

MILLENNIALS

There has been a lot of controversy over the Millennial generation’s entry into the workforce. This generation is very different from the others, so many people did not know what to think of them. Millennials don’t want just any job—they want to be passionate about the work they do. They value companies that appreciate and embrace diversity, inclusion, and innovation. Gen Xers may value work-life balance, but Millennials will fight for it .

They may be different, but Millennials can be a valuable addition to your team. How can you attract and retain them? For starters, focus on a benefits package with a fair amount of paid time off so they can find the work-life balance they so desperately desire and don’t forget to personalize options within this group - there are different point-of-views even within this unique group. This generation is also attracted to employers who allow employees to work flexible hours or remotely.

But, Millennials are not all about finding the balance between personal and professional lives. These younger workers also want opportunities to learn new skills and grow in their careers. In fact, if you don’t give them professional development opportunities, they’ve been known to job hop to find a company who is willing to invest in their future.

CREATING A BENEFITS PLAN

Now that you know what each generation wants, how can you manage to come up with a benefits package that meets all of their expectations? Be flexible. Many employers have mistakenly accepted there is no way to create a single benefits package that will satisfy each of these generations. Instead, employers can start to take advantage of flexible package op- tions, which allow each employee to pick and choose what benefits they would like to include in their package.

How do they work? Generally, the plan will include core benefits, such as performance incentives, health insurance, and cost of living raises, in addition to other benefit options such as more paid time off, flexible working hours, or opportunities for career development. The core benefits are those that every generation wants, and the others should be designed to cater to each generation’s individual needs.

REMEMBER TO BE INCLUSIVE

It’s important to remember to offer all benefits to every employee, even if you don’t think that employee is interested in certain options. For example, Baby Boomers may not value flexible working hours as much as Millennials, but they should still have the option of making this part of their benefits package if they wish. If you fail to make benefits available to everyone, you run the risk of being labeled as discriminatory for making assumptions about the needs of each generation.

Once you have a flexible benefits package in place, make sure to include this as a selling point in your job listings. The option to pick and choose what benefits you get is becoming very attractive to job seekers. In fact, implementing this type of benefits plan can give you a competitive edge over other companies who are still offering traditional packages to their employees.
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