No two workplaces are exactly the same, especially in growing businesses. As you add more employees to your team, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself with a staff of people from different backgrounds — and different age groups.
Employing workers from a range of generations can help build a strong team. Everyone brings different experience and strengths to the table, and colleagues have the opportunity to learn from one another, mentor each other, and grow in new ways.
As an employer, however, it’s important to consider that the employee benefits people value most is different for each age group. It’s worth spending some time to determine what to include in a benefits offering that will suit your particular team.
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Benefits in a Multigenerational Workplace
A lot has already been said about each generation — think pieces about Millennials, in particular, are becoming well-worn territory lately. We know that people of different ages tend to value and prioritize different things in their work and personal lives. As an employer, being responsive to that can help you to attract and retain the best talent at any experience level.
Perks and Benefits That Drive Employee Happiness
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Now that you know different age groups have priorities when it comes to benefits, how can you appeal to workers of each generation with your benefits offering?
Let’s take a look at Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z, and explore a little bit about what matters to them when it comes to employee benefits.
Employee Benefits for Baby Boomers
As the oldest generation on our list, Boomers are in the late stages of their career. Healthcare options are top-of-mind. As people age, their need for medical care often increases, so having access to rich medical insurance plans is usually a big priority for people in this age range.
According to a MetLife report, over 90% of Boomers aged 51–64 say they want health insurance coverage from their employer. This number drops off slightly for those older than 65 when Medicare coverage begins.
Relatedly, wellness perks, like discounted gym memberships or even healthy snacks, can be a helpful perk employers can offer for workers looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
For Boomers, flexible working options can be a huge draw. Employees who are caring for an aging parent or loved one will particularly appreciate this benefit.
Boomers are also planning for their retirement. Of course, salary plays a big role this, but offering access to retirement savings options is a great employee perk for this group.
Employee Benefits for Gen X
Gen Xers likely find themselves needing a lot from their benefits. Many have children and are concerned about childcare, and at the same time, may also be caring for aging parents. Work-life balance is going to be top-of-mind for most Gen Xers.
Purchasing Power noted this in their study, "Guide to Generation X: Working with Them and Engaging Them".
"Gen X is highly experienced and hard to replace, but businesses often forget about their 'bread and butter' and concentrate employee benefits around the new starters,” said Christy DeFrain, Purchasing Power Vice President, Sales and Account Management. “Providing the right benefits can help ensure that years of experience and expertise inherent to this group aren't lost."
That said, work-life balance and flexibility aren’t the only concern for Gen X. Health insurance options are still super important — especially for employees with families. And according to Glassdoor, they also value a 401(k) with employer matching.
Related Article: 6 Surprising Statistics About Benefits Employees Want
Employee Benefits for Millennials
The job market is very different for Millennials entering the workforce than it was when Boomers entered the workforce. There is much more diversity in what types of jobs are available, with a multitude of startups and small businesses offering a variety of unique job opportunities.
However, it may be a stereotype that Millennials value the fringe benefits that come with startup life. According to a FitSmallBusiness survey, Millennials still place access to health insurance as their top employee benefit — similar to older generations. But they’re also looking for more.
“The Millennials we surveyed want a 401(k) plan with employer match funds, subsidized health insurance, telecommuting options and a paid two-month sabbatical after five years of employment,” Dawn Leijon, Executive in Residence, Kogod School of Business at American University, told FitSmallBusiness. “Employers willing to help them pay off student loans and save for a home will see even more loyalty and stability.”
Granted, it’s not feasible for every growing business to offer access to a benefits package that rich. But it’s worth noting that the office ping pong table or beer fridge may not be as important as offering some of these more impactful benefits. However, if one stereotype about Millennials is proving true, it’s their value of independence and flexibility in their work. Employees in this age group don’t like to stick to the traditional 9-5, and prefer the ability to work remotely or work flexible hours.
The need for flexibility is serious. According to Payscale, 34% of Millennials have quit their jobs because work flexibility was not an option, 14% have considered leaving their current positions due to the lack of work flexibility, and 24% are actively seeking a new job because of “work flexibility issues.”
Employee Benefits for Gen Z
Millennials have been the talk of the town for a while, but a new generation is entering the workforce. It’s time to start considering Gen Z. While Gen Z shares many similarities with Millennials when it comes to work and benefits, there are also some striking differences.
Lovell Corp’s “Change Generation Report” found that while Millennials tend to seek jobs that provide stability, convenience, and balance, Gen Z tends to be more concerned with following their passions and taking pride in their work.
Another difference they found is that Gen Z looks for more mental health support from their employers. With greater awareness around mental health issues in recent years, this makes sense. And for employers, providing access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or counseling is becoming a viable and affordable option.
If Millennials like to see student loan repayment options from their employer, Gen Z likes it even more. Debt, and student debt in particular, is a huge concern for people in this age group.
The Federal Reserve Reports that there’s currently $1.48 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt. According to HR Dive, 46% of Gen Z is worried about student debt. It’s hard for these workers to get ahead when they’re constantly paying down their loans. Benefits that help your employees holistically, like options that help them repay their student loans, are going to be very appealing to this generation of young workers.
Offering Benefits to a Multigenerational Team
While it’s clear that each generation has different priorities when it comes to employee benefits, it’s not as simple as just creating a tailored benefits package for each age group. Why not?
Well, based on the recommendations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers can offer different benefits packages to different employees, however, you can’t do it in a way that discriminates by gender, race, or age (among other considerations). Any policy that could be found to be discriminatory can get you in hot water.
Some businesses opt to offer tiered benefits packages that are tied to an employee’s grade or level at the company. In theory, these tiers could map to the various age ranges we’ve discussed without being overtly linked to age, and without your business facing discrimination charges.
If you’re still struggling to decide what benefits to offer your team, start with the basics. Everyone values having good health insurance, so it’s a great first step to take to ensure a happier team.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.