Offering Benefits to a Multigenerational Workforce

Offering Benefits to a Multigenerational Workforce

by on 13 Feb, 2019

In our last blog post, we described five benefits trends to look out for in 2019. One of these trends is the increased customization of benefits offerings, due to today’s workforce spanning several generations. The average workforce today could span as many as five generations and each of those generations has unique desires and needs when it comes to employee benefits. In order to maintain employee satisfaction and retention, employers need to be aware of the generational differences and know how to meet those unique needs.

Let’s take a look at each of these five generations and what makes them unique, with help from Multi-Generational Impacts on the Workforce, a research report from Bentley University.

The Silent Generation (born 1928-1945) currently makes up about 2% of the workforce. Most members of this generation grew up during World War II, were raised in disciplined nuclear families, and have a strong sense of loyalty to their families, communities, and country. Members of this generation are likely to have single-company loyalty and work for the same company for decades. Because of this loyalty, this generation is likely to value formal employee recognition programs. Beyond that, they also value a traditional benefits package with health insurance and, most importantly, retirement plans.

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) currently make up about 29% of the workforce. This generation is known as being the hardest-working generation, often prioritizing work over personal life. Because of the 2008 recession, many members of this generation are working later in life than expected. Baby boomers face unique challenges that drive them to desire certain benefits. For example, many members of this generation will face having to take care of an older family member, so offering some flexible work options would be appealing to them. Boomers are the generation most likely to retire due to lack of transferable skills, so offering continuous employee training can help to offset that. And of course, as Baby Boomers age, they value health and retirement benefits. Employers can go the extra mile by making these benefits more accessible through onsite healthcare and retirement counseling.

Generation X (born 1965-1980) currently makes up about 34% of the workforce. Research demonstrates that this generation is more adaptable, independent, and tech-savvy than other generations. In addition, they are more likely to place a lower priority on work and value a strong work-life balance. These members are increasingly part of the “sandwich generation” where they may be faced with caring for both elderly and younger family members. As a result, family leave is one of the most important benefits to them, and employers should offer flexible work arrangements, generous family leave policies, and creative time-off programs.

Millennials (born 1991-1998) currently make up about 34% of the workforce. They are considered the most educated and diverse generation and bore full witness to the emergence of the Internet. This generation is the leader in desiring workplace flexibility, especially the ability to work remotely.  According to Payscale, 34% of Millennials have quit their jobs because work flexibility was not an option. In addition, this generation struggles the most with paying off staggering student loan debt, so student loan repayment has become an increasingly popular benefit offering for them.

Generation Z (born 1999- Present) currently makes up about 1% of the workforce. They share many traits with millennials but are more entrepreneurial, cautious, and concerned with stability after seeing their parents struggle through the recession in 2008. Similar to millennials, they value flexible working options and assistance with student loans. With increasing conversation surrounding the importance of mental health, they may be the first generation who fully expects to receive mental health benefits such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Understanding each generation’s unique characteristics and needs is crucial for employers hoping to craft benefit offerings that satisfy a workforce spanning multiple generations. At the same time, employers need to proceed with caution when attempting to craft multigenerational benefit offerings. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that employers cannot offer different benefits packages to employees in a way that discriminates by gender, age, race, or other considerations. In order to avoid being accused of discriminatory practices, many employers offer tiered benefits packages that are tied to an employee’s grade or level at the company, without being overtly tied to age. – Let’s talk about this.

Offering benefits that satisfy a multigenerational workforce can be hard for employers to manage, but luckily they do not have to face it alone. By partnering with Navigate, business owners can instead remain focused on the other day-to-day functions of the business that generate revenue and create growth while still offering benefits packages that appeal to members of all generations. 


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Disclaimer: this article does not represent expert advice and is provided for informational purposes. Please get in touch if you would like expert HR advice.

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