Will 2018 be the year for multi-generational flexible benefits?

Multi-generational workplace
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There can be no doubt that today’s workforce looks and works differently to that of just 10 years ago. For instance, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in workers over 65 remaining in employment - from 5.5% in 1992 to 10% in 2016 – and are now seeing up to four generations in the workplace.

From the last of the Baby Boomers to Gen Xers, the now established millennials and the newest entrants, Generation Z. So, what does this mean for HR and benefits professionals and will this increasingly diverse workforce make 2018 the year of multi-generational benefits?

And what does this mean for the benefits mix offered to your employees?

Our recent sponsored research indicates that 45% of employers are looking to adapt their benefits strategy to best suit a multi-generational workforce.

With an increasingly diverse multi-generational workforce, it is important to reflect the needs of each group within a reward strategy.

Tailoring benefits for different generations

In addition to the generational diversity there is the ever-increasing challenge posed by the ‘talent gap.’

A Recruitment & Employment Confederation survey recently found that 45% of employers are expecting to face a shortage in suitable candidates over the next year and we all know that it has become increasingly important to create a compelling employer brand and proposition to attract and retain talent. But, can a reward strategy be crafted to suit a diverse generational mix who have different desires and aspiration?

We have found that Baby Boomers are more often looking for enhancements to their existing lifestyle - such as a better level of private medical insurance - and are considering ways to maximise their retirement income.

In contrast, millennials place more value on flexible working, decent maternity/paternity cover and products that will help them save towards short term goals; for example, purchasing a first home.

The new entrants to the workforce, Generation Z, place more value on supplementary benefits such as subsidised facilities, free canteens and funding towards additional education that helps them further their careers and increase their earning potential.

Career progression/regression

When considering career progression - or even regression - organisations have to factor in the different goals of each generation and how they can best support them. Towards the start of their career paths, Millennials and Generation Z are more commonly looking to develop personal skills, climb the career ladder and gain more responsibility.

As such, offering access to training and funding for education can prove an effective attraction and retention tool. In contrast, Baby Boomers and Gen X are typically looking for a better work life balance and, in some cases, a lateral or downwards movement from their existing position to one of less responsibility and stress.

Meaningful insights

In 2018 we’re expecting to see employers utilising existing data to understand what will drive their people and attract new talent; understanding expectations of their people and adapting schemes to suit the differing requirements of each generation.

For those HR professionals with benefits technology in place, they should utilise the story in their data such as benefits take-up by generation/demographic and how people interact with the scheme. This will ensure employers are making informed decisions based on their employee’s needs, the current situation and wider market trends.

Flexible benefits and the re-emergence of ‘flex funds’

We are seeing a re-emergence of flexible benefits funds and are expecting this to become increasingly prevalent in the years ahead. For example, where a benefit such a life cover is provided to an employee at 6x annual income, an employee may be able to ‘flex down’ to suit their personal circumstance or, indeed, select another benefit.

We’ve seen an increasing number of financial wellbeing benefits being offered by employers.

As with their wider benefits package, each generation is looking for something different from their financial wellbeing benefits and resources. Generation Z are more commonly facing issues relating to high interest rates and paying off debt and credit facilities.

In contrast, Millennials are looking for the best way to save towards their first home and Gen X and Baby Boomers are looking to gain the most from their pension savings looking towards retirement. 

Conclusion

Understanding the diverse needs and, sometimes, even the personal circumstances of each generation is increasingly important for today’s HR professional to best identify what is truly important and what specific benefits they find attractive.

Luckily, the technology solutions available today are keeping pace with the growing corporate desire to offer the best possible employee benefits solution.

We fully expect that 2018 will be the year which employers will start to further adapt their benefits to suit the diverse generational mix in their workforce for higher levels of engagement, productivity and retention. 

About Richard Geldard

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