Your organization most likely has staff on its payroll from four different generations: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and the newest to enter the workforce, Generation Z. Each of these groups differs in many ways. It’s critical to understand which benefits are most important to them so you’ll create the best employee benefits packages across the workforce. This can cement their commitment to the organization while also bolstering engagement and productivity.

“Identifying generational priorities is essential to benefits administration.”

The generational constant

First, it’s important to note a common priority (not surprisingly) across all generations: health insurance. According to the Employee Benefits Research Institute’s 2018 Health and Workplace Benefits Survey, 73 percent of respondents, whose ages ranged from 21 to 64, called health benefits the most important HR-related factor in deciding to take a job.

Millennials, baby boomers and Gen Xers all have differing expectations for their benefits packages.Millennials, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers all have differing expectations for their benefits packages.

That said, generations have different health-related needs. Millennials and Gen Z’s first workers want flexibility, so they might opt for a less expensive plan with bare-minimum coverage. By contrast, Boomers, the majority of whom are at (or near) retirement age, want a comprehensive set of health benefits, while Gen Xers fall somewhere in between. You can try to meet everyone’s needs by offering tiered health options with costs that correlate to the services offered.

Variances in work-life balance

Today’s employees, especially younger generations, expect work-life balance. That said, each generation differs in its interpretation of that concept; it’s your job to shape benefit offerings accordingly:

Millennials and Gen Z employees want the most flexibility overall, including in work-life balance. According to Glassdoor, these two generations want the freedom to work remotely at their leisure and to have some control over their hour, They also strongly value paid time off. At the same time, the Human Capital Institute noted the strong self-motivation of younger workers, allowing them to meet their responsibilities without excessive direction.

Gen Xers’ desire for work-life balance often centers around the need to meet familial responsibilities – like childcare and keeping an eye on aging parents – by working from home whenever needed.

Boomers likely aren’t as concerned with remote work because they’re accustomed to a more traditional office environment, but they’ll value their ability to take vacation.

Retirement-planning priorities

The Society for Human Resource Management noted in its 2018 Employee Benefits Report that 95 percent of employers offer at least one retirement plan to workers. As you might expect, these benefits will be most valued by Baby Boomers. Gen Xers aren’t far behind in that respect, with Glassdoor stating that this group places a high value on 401(k) plans with matching contributions. Millennials have shown evidence of steadily increasing financial savvy in recent years, and accordingly have started increasing their retirement-fund contributions, according to Employee Benefit News. Offering multiple retirement plans with different contribution levels could help your organization meet the priorities of workers across all age groups.

Bridging the gaps

Keep in mind that regulatory compliance must be a factor whenever selecting the benefits you will make available to your team. For example, if you offer tiered plans for any benefit type, you can’t specifically state they are for younger, older or middle-aged employees. You can, however, use an objective criterion like tenure to differentiate between the tiers. Overall, your goal when creating the best employee benefits packages for all ages is to demonstrate a company culture that aims to meet the needs of all of your employees and their families.