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Tips For Designing A Stronger Employee Benefits Programme

Tips for designing a stronger Employee Benefits Programme for a multi-generational workforce


Companies and workplaces today are going through tremendous transformations. In a world with increasing birth rates, longer life expectancy, better working conditions and advanced technology, employee longevity is increasing. Because of this, workforces are and will become truly multi-generational. Three distinct generations, Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers (Generation X) and Millennials are working along-side each other and, at the same time, additional representatives from the Silent Generation and Generation Z are positioned as bookends at opposite ends of the age spectrum, simultaneously placing five age groups into the workforce.


This creates massive challenges for companies to get the formula right when putting together a good benefits package that attracts, engages and retains valued employees across a broad age spectrum. Understanding and managing employees’ different communication styles, work practices, values and expectations can be difficult, but it also creates opportunities for diversity and growth as different generations bring different experience and skills to the table.


Getting it right is a fine art. Below we will offer some valuable tips to help harness the power of a multi-generational workforce by creating EB packages that address what employees value most.


Demographics are important

Firstly let us take a look at the generational differences and characteristics of these groups:


Silent Generation / Traditionalists (born 1928 - 1945)


Work Ethic:
View work as a privelidge. Tend to be focused, loyal and preserving.


Work Style / Environment:
Take logical approach to work related items, like clearset goals and expectations. Being fair and consistent is important. Not raised with technology, prefers face to face comms.


Personal contact, respect forage and experience.

Baby Boomers (born 1946 - 1964)


Work Ethic:
Motivated by rank, wealth and prestige. Strong work ethic.


Work Style / Environment:
Good team players, do not like conflict. Likes to be managed democratically. Likes challenges.


Flexible working arrangements, phased retirement programmes. Meaningful work and learning opportunities. Recognition.



Generation X (born 1965 - 1980)


Work Ethic:
Likes to be independent and thrives on change. Entrepreneurial.


Work Style / Environment:
Prefers autonomous work, flexibility, clear measurable goals. Good communicators.


Freedom and mobility, new skills and experience. Work-life balance is important.



Generation Y (born 1981 - 1997)


Work Ethic:
Ambitious, goal and achievement oriented. Tenacious.


Work Style / Environment:
Good team players, optimistic, tech savvy, digital natives.


Work-life balance is fundamental. Collaberation, need to make a difference, not afraid to change jobs. Value social/corporate responsibility.



Generation Z (born 1998+)


Work Ethic:
Sharing and collaboration. Complete digital natives. Natural entrepreneurs. Do not have a strong work ethic. Less motivated by money.


Work Style / Environment:
Multi-taskers as "always on". Relies on tech to problem solve and make decisions.


Everyone should have a voice. Small bite sized information only. Wants their opinions and ideas to be valued. Short-termism.




Aflac – Designing Benefit Programs for Different Generations, Viewpoint Business.


Remember to avoid stereotyping

While it’s important to remember that different generations do have different preferences, that doesn’t mean that we should try to place everyone into their own stereotypical silo. Every Millennial isn’t dependent on social media, just like all Baby-Boomers aren’t entirely focused on a steady wage or climbing the corporate ladder. Rather than assuming employees will want different things, give them a chance to share their ambitions and concerns with the company and with each other. Frequent feedback, evaluation and encouragement will be increasingly important for managers to implement as part of the daily work routines as different generations bring different expectations to the workplace.


This strives to create benefit packages and solutions that suit everyone.


Celebrate diversity

The multi-generational workforce allows companies to gain insights from countless different experiences and personalities. What’s more, the skills of staff can begin to grow. After all, co-workers can not only learn from each other in formal training programs but can also get together for powerful cross-generational mentoring relationships. Both reciprocal and reverse mentoring programs that pair seasoned executives and younger professionals are becoming more popular across many offices as different generations have diverse skills to teach each other.


As a leader in a multi-generational workforce, the key to success comes from embracing and understanding diversity and using the knowledge gained to enhance engagement. By building on a platform of communication, you can create a workplace that’s truly inclusive for professionals of any background and any generation.


Improve Communication

The success of your benefits programme may depend on how well employees understand and therefore take advantage of all its components. But, different generations have clear communication preferences so it’s important to tailor efforts to your workforce.


Younger employees are more amenable to instant digital communication, while older demographics may prefer a benefits booklet and other written communication. It’s important to use technology to supplement, not replace face-to-face, ongoing communication. According to a 2013 LIMRA survey, ‘Seeking the Ideal Experience: How Gen Y and X Want to Buy Life Insurance’, Generation X and Generation Y consumers said they want information and service online but also want the option to talk to someone by phone. Consider group meetings to review benefits options and individual benefits counselling sessions to help employees understand their individual and coverage needs, either in person or by phone. Even a 20-minute session for each employee can create a much stronger engagement with the benefits program and therefore higher return on your investment.


Flexibility is key

When it comes to providing benefits for employees, flexibility is key since not every benefits package will fit all generations. For instance, many Baby Boomers will be attracted to a benefits package that focuses on retirement, extended benefits and healthcare plans. Millennials will be more concentrated on student loan debt and Generation X workers may want a package that will aid in caring for their parents or even starting a family of their own. Flexible working options are an excellent idea for those employees of any age - investment opportunities, working from home, wellness programmes and personal counselling e.g. EAP programs.


In the below grid, we’ve taken three of the five generations to demonstrate the type of benefits package that are valued within these groups:


Baby Boomers (born 1946 - 1964)


  • Life Insurance
  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Critical Care Insurance
  • Home Insurance
  • Retirement Counselling
  • Savings Options

Generation X (born 1965 - 1980)


  • Childcare options
  • Life Insurance
  • Homeowners Insurance Flexible spending a/cs
  • Comprehensive Retirement Counselling
  • Savings Options
  • Long-term Care Insurance

Generation Y


  • Wellness Plans and Gym Membership
  • Travel Rewards
  • ID Theft Protection
  • Continuing Education Tuition Assistance
  • Accident Insurance
  • Retirement Savings Education
  • Employee Mentoring Programmes
  • Short-term disability


Source: How Employee Benefits for a multi-generational workforce are changing – Dan Levenson, May 31, 2016


When it comes to employee benefits, the answer isn’t a custom workplace for each demographic, but an integrated system of environment, tools and policies that brings out the best in every generation. Whether it’s every year or every other year, employers should require their employees to make a yes or no decision. Having employees stop and think about their benefits would help more people understand their benefits and more people would be protected. Supporting your employees’ wellbeing and giving them access to a wide range of employee benefits empowers them to create a customised package to suit their lifestyles, in turn helping retain the employees you worked so hard to attract in the first place.



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