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Benefits Administration

How to Craft Employee Benefits Plans for a Multi-Generational Workforce

One Minute Takeaway

  • There are 5 generations in the workforce today.
  • Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and now Gen Z, all have different expectations about work, life and benefits.
  • 43% of employees say that inadequate benefits were the reason for their departure

There are 5 generations in the workforce today. Traditionalists (AKA the Greatest Generation) and Baby Boomers are retiring (or at least thinking about it). Gen Xers are taking on leadership roles; Millennials make up most workers in the U.S.; and Gen Z is just getting started.

What, if anything, do they agree on? A majority want flexibility and remote work options (76% of Millennials, 69% of Gen Z and 64% of Gen X, according to LiveCareer & Oyster). And everyone wants a good benefits package.

Employers want to offer good benefits, because it’s one of the best ways to drive engagement and retention. According to Pew, 43% of departing employees say benefits (or the lack of benefits) was one of the reasons they quit. A well-designed benefits package can attract and retain employees, reducing costly turnover. In addition, good benefits for employees can improve overall satisfaction, morale, and productivity.

But what exactly is a “good” benefits package? As you’ll see, it all depends on who you ask.

What is The Multi-Generational Workforce?

When we talk about the generations making up most employee bases, we’re referring to these date ranges. No source can precisely agree on birth years, but generally speaking, these are the people who compose your workforce:

When we talk about the generations making up most employee bases, we’re referring to these date ranges. No source can precisely agree on birth years, but generally speaking, these are the people who compose your workforce:

The Silent Generation/Traditionalists (1939-1947): Strongly focused on their careers and largely adhere to social norms; typically single-company loyalty.

Baby Boomers (1948-1963): Generally hardworking and motivated by position, perks, and prestige; they often define themselves by their professional accomplishments.

Generation X (1964-1978): Less committed to a single employer and willing to change jobs to get ahead; they’re more tech-savvy than previous generations and place a strong value on work/life balance.

Millennials (1979-1991): Have high expectations of their employers, willing to trade high pay for flexible schedules, plugged into technology.

Gen Z (1992 – current): Raised with an iPhone or Android device in their hands, more entrepreneurial and wary of corporate America, highly value development opportunities. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2030, Gen Z will make up 8.3 percent of the workforce.

Benefits Planning for the Generations

Back in the late 70s, when cafeteria plans were created, rather than being forced into a traditional cookie-cutter program, employees finally had the opportunity to select the exact types of health care benefits they needed with their payroll deductions taken out pre-tax. Today, the countless traditional and non-traditional options available have morphed these simple cafeteria plans into what now resembles an expansive buffet. So, let’s take a quick look at what types of benefits might appeal to each generational cohort.

gallery of smiling men and women of various ages

The Silent Generation’s Wants

Since this cohort is of retirement age and usually has stayed with a single employer for the span of their career, pension plans and 401(k)s are of importance to this generation. A traditional benefits package is valuable to them. They also typically value formal employee recognition programs rather than casual shout-outs or email thanks.

Baby Boomers’ Benefits

According to research from Florida International University (FIU), in the workplace, loyalty, work ethic, a steady career path, and compensation resonate with many Baby Boomers when it comes to their professional lives. So, it would stand to reason this group would likely be more heavily focused on the traditional benefits program of health, dental, vision, and life insurance.

Additionally, a growing frequency of chronic conditions makes this generation high consumers of health care. According to a MetLife survey, 52% of Boomers would be very interested in having more health plans to choose from. They also seek to protect their retirement savings against the risk of unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Generation X’s Perks

shifting preferences towards an improved work-life balance with a heightened focus on individual advancement, stability, and job satisfaction. Generally speaking for this group, while a traditional benefit set is still important, offerings such as telecommuting and flexible time off (or no conventional banked PTO program enabling the freedom to take off when they want), would be valuable. Additionally, company-paid training and development are valuable to many in this cohort.

According to MetLife, Gen X is raising kids, so they may be responsible for their children’s medical care expenses as well as their own. Since this group is likely to have children in age groups that are prone to accidents (especially sports and playground injuries), much like the Boomers, 52% would be very interested in having more health plans to choose from, just for very different reasons.

Meeting Millennials’ Needs

Again, the FIU study points at Millennials placing an emphasis on producing meaningful work, finding a creative outlet, and having a preference for immediate feedback.

Many members of this group lean toward what might be considered “out there” benefits programs. The good news is that the things they typically value aren’t terribly costly. Look into offering benefits such as time to spend on a creative project outside the scope of their official position, financial wellness resources, the ability to work remotely, and lifestyle solutions (dog walkers/ childcare/therapists). They also tend to value mentorship programs, and monthly, if not weekly, manager touch bases.

Gen Z is Officially in The Workforce

A large percentage of Generation Z’ers are likely still on their parent’s insurance plans when they enter the workforce, so benefits might not be something they’re immediately interested in (but they will be). Much like their older co-workers of Gen X, many in this cohort appreciate, or even expect, flexibility and autonomy in the workplace. Sixty-four percent pinpoint career growth opportunities as their top priority when they seek a full-time job, so career development ranks highly on many of their benefits wish lists.

Enable Your Team

Implementing benefits plans doesn’t have to be hard, and Paycor has a benefits solution to make it an easy process! 

With Paycor’s Ask Emma Wizard within Benefits Advisor, you can make the process of choosing benefits plans simple and straightforward for your employees. It is an interactive tool that guides them through picking out what they need from available options in just minutes!

Do You Need a Benefits Wizard?

Employees are confused. In a pool of over 2,000 eligible employees who have health insurance benefits, the following was discovered:

According to the survey:

  • 49% describe the process of making health insurance decisions “very stressful.”
  • 41% find open enrollment “extremely confusing.”
  • 20% have regrets about their decisions.
  • 53% know their out-of-pocket maximums.
  • 47% know their employer’s contributions.
  • 34% pay attention to the materials they receive.
  • 62% prefer electronic communication about their benefits.

Paycor’s Benefits Advisor with the Ask Emma Wizard helps remove confusion and simplifies benefits information making it easier for employees from all generations to make decisions.

Beyond having the opportunity to choose the health care and retirement plans that fit their lifestyles, enabling all of your employees to customize and select benefits that are important to them and their families can go a long way toward improving engagement and retention. 

What Are the Steps in Designing an Employee Benefit Plan For a Multi-Generational Workforce?

Before you start drafting your benefits package, it’s important to take a step back and think about what you want to achieve. Do you want to attract top talent? Retain current employees? Boost morale? All of the above? Once you’ve defined your goals, you can start to tailor your benefits package accordingly for eligible employees.

Drafting a benefits package to meet everyone’s needs can be challenging, but it’s worth the effort. Here are some steps to help you along the way, especially for the multi-generational workforce.

Step 1: Know your organization’s budget.

An organization needs to be aware of its budget when drafting a benefits package because different benefits can be more or less expensive depending on the company. For example, offering employees a higher salary may be more costly than providing them with health insurance. It is important to weigh the costs and benefits of various benefits packages to find the best option for the organization.

Step 2: Know your employee’s needs.

Employees need to be considered when drafting a benefits package because they are the ones who will be receiving the benefits. Offering employees a benefit that does not meet their needs can be frustrating and may lead to them leaving the company. It is important to survey employees to find out what benefits they would find useful to create a package that is attractive to them. With 5 generations in the workforce, you need options for everyone.

  • Baby Boomers: This generation is nearing retirement age, so they may be more interested in benefits that will help them save for retirement or that will cover their health care costs.
  • Generation X: This generation is known for being independent and self-reliant. They may be more interested in benefits that give them more control over their work-life balance, such as flexible scheduling or telecommuting.
  • Millennials: They are known for being tech-savvy and for being motivated by a sense of purpose. They may be interested in benefits that allow them to use their skills to make a difference, such as paid time off to volunteer.
  • Generation Z: This generation is the most recent to enter the workforce. They are known for being digital natives and for being comfortable with change. They may be interested in benefits that allow them to be flexible and adaptable, such as job-sharing or telecommuting.

Step 3: Research different types of benefits and create your plan.

Once you know your organization’s budget and your employee’s needs, you can start researching different types of benefits. Some common benefits include health insurance, retirement savings plans, paid time off, and tuition reimbursement. There are many resources available at Paycor to help you learn about the different types of benefits and how to choose the best ones for your organization.

Step 4: Communicate your plan to the employees.

A good way to communicate a new benefits package to employees is by using a software solution, such as Paycor’s Benefits Advisor. A software solution can help you quickly and easily create custom messages for each employee, which can be sent through email or a mobile app. This ensures that employees receive accurate information about their benefits package.

Benefits packages can be expensive for organizations, and they are often updated or changed to attract new employees or keep the current ones. It is important to evaluate a benefits package regularly to make sure that it still meets the needs of the employees and is affordable for the organization. Additionally, changes in legislation or the economy can affect which benefits are available and how much they cost. For these reasons, it is important to continually assess your company’s benefits package.

How Can Managers Bring the Generations in Their Workforce Together?

Managers can bring together different generations in their workforce by establishing common goals and objectives for the company, and by creating a culture that is respectful of all employees. Managers should also be open to new ideas and feedback from employees of all ages, and should be willing to work collaboratively with all members of the team. By creating a positive and productive work environment, managers can help to bridge the generational divide in the workplace.

How Do You Engage Different Generations in The Workplace?

Managers engage different generations in the workforce in different ways. For example, older managers may use a more authoritative approach, while younger managers may be more likely to use a collaborative approach. Some managers may try to appeal to different generations’ strengths, while others may simply treat all employees the same. In general, however, it is important for managers to be aware of the different generational traits and how they may affect employee engagement.

How Paycor Can Help

Overall, offering a variety of benefits is a win-win situation. It meets the needs of different generations, helps to attract and retain employees, and is good for business.

Companies have a lot to consider when it comes to hiring or retaining employees – especially since each generation has different needs that need fulfilling for them to stay happy on the job!

Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and now Gen Z, all have different expectations about work and life, and your company must have a benefits package that meets the needs of all of these groups.

Paycor makes this process easy for you. Contact us today and find out more about Benefits Advisor.