How Different Generations Value Benefit Packages

August 4, 2019
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Author: Tyran Saffold Jr

In a tight labor market, companies are pressed to find and retain talented employees and search for ways to gain competitive advantages over neighboring businesses. Jobs are plentiful and salaries are increasing across the board, so what options can be deployed to attract employees into your company?

Certain fringe benefits can quickly shift the odds in your favor—in fact, 60 percent of employees say that benefits are “very important” to how they feel about their job and their company. In addition, employees who are satisfied with benefits are almost four times as likely to be satisfied with their jobs.

Benefits packages range from the typical medical, dental and vision insurance, to impressive 401(k) programs and the more recent school loan repayment option. Each generation comes with a different set of requirements and expectations.

For example, it wouldn’t make much sense to offer the baby boomer generation (55-75 years old) help repaying student loans when they are most likely finished with their payments, or near the end of that rope. In the same light, Millennials may feel as though they can place less emphasis on health insurance and delay payments to 401(k) plans until a later date since they assume they will be in the workforce for at least 30 more years.

The key to attracting the right talent is knowing what they are drawn to. A close examination of each generation will help you gain insight on what to offer, and to who, while gaining a competitive advantage in a tight labor market.

A MassMutual survey revealed this about benefit preferences when benefits were discussed:

Benefit Preferences by Generation

With more than one-in-three Millennials (56 million) participating in the workforce, it would make sense for most companies to acquiesce to their demands and allow their preferences to hold more weight than other generations, but that would be a huge mistake on the business side of things. The struggle for HR departments is finding the best way to address each employee’s specific needs outside of salary requirements.

Currently, Generation X contributes 53 million people to the workforce and Baby Boomers next at 41 million. Each generation still makes up a significant portion of the workforce and with older people working further into their careers, benefits should be tailored to fit generational needs—especially since 60 percent of employees said that benefits were the reason why they joined their company.

In a survey by AICPA, it was reported that 80 percent of workers would keep a job with benefits rather than take one that offered more pay and substantially less, or no benefits. Base pay is just one part of the equation and unfavorable benefits packages be the difference between gaining or losing talented employees in a tight labor market.

While traditional benefits may appeal to an older workforce generation, new approaches to benefits packages are suggested in order to lure individuals into their work cultures. Here are a few modifications that rank high on the list of Millennial and the up-and-coming Generation Z:

• Repayment of student loans
• Pet insurance
• Legal service plans
• Identity theft protection and resolution
• Unlimited paid time off
• Wellness programs that reward healthy behavior
• Child adoption financial assistance

Knowing what to offer is the key to luring talented individuals into each company and if the labor market remains tight, the task for HR reps will be increasingly difficult. However, even in a relaxed workforce, benefits may still be the deciding factor between compelling individuals to join your team or repelling them to another company. Tailored benefits will become optimal for job success and generational demands are sure to shift employee expectations in the coming years.