Building Understanding Ahead of Open Enrollment Across Generations

As workforces nationwide continue to become more multigenerational, HR and benefits professionals have the unique task of tailoring employee benefits that meet an increasingly diverse range of wants and needs.  

The importance of benefits became abundantly clear over the last couple of years as companies strived to retain top talent and recruit in-demand employees.

A flexible benefits package that addresses health, family, career development, and financial well-being will help attract and retain a talented and satisfied multigenerational workforce. It starts with understanding your employees’ needs where they are in their lives and educating them on how you will meet their needs during open enrollment and beyond.

What Each Generation Typically Looks For 

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are approaching retirement age, so their benefit preferences may focus more on retirement plans, health coverage, and financial security.

Generation X (born 1965-1980) are typically family-oriented, so they may prioritize benefits like parental leave, flexible work arrangements, and career development opportunities.

Millennials (born 1981-1996) typically value work-life balance, professional growth, and wellness programs. Benefits such as student loan assistance, mental health resources, and remote work options may be appealing to them.

Generation Z (born 1997-2012) often seeks opportunities for skill development, mentorship, and meaningful work. They may also appreciate unique perks like pet-friendly policies and eco-friendly initiatives.

Build A Plan For Your Unique Staff

While these wants and needs are typical, there can be crossover, meaning you need to plan your benefits based on your unique staff. Here’s a start to building a successful plan. 

Conduct Surveys and Gather Feedback: Start by conducting surveys or focus groups to understand the specific needs and preferences of your employees. Ask about their benefit priorities, and use the feedback to inform your benefit offerings.

Offer a Flexible Benefits Package: Consider providing a core set of benefits that meet the basic needs of all employees, such as health insurance and retirement plans. Then, offer a menu of optional benefits that employees can choose from based on their individual preferences.

Customizable Health Plans: Provide a range of health insurance plans with different coverage levels and costs. Some employees may prefer comprehensive plans, while others may opt for high-deductible plans with health savings accounts (HSAs).

Retirement Plans: Offer various retirement planning options, including 401(k)s, IRAs, and pension plans. Consider providing financial planning resources and educational materials to help employees make informed decisions.

Family-Friendly Benefits: Recognize the needs of employees with families by offering benefits like parental leave, child care assistance, and flexible work arrangements. These benefits can be especially appealing to Gen Xers and millennials.

Professional Development: Invest in training and development programs that cater to all generations. Offer mentorship opportunities, online courses, and career advancement pathways to support continuous learning and growth.

Mental Health and Wellness: Address the mental health needs of your workforce by offering counseling services, stress management programs, and employee assistance programs (EAPs). Highlight these benefits to attract and retain millennials and Gen Zers.

Financial Wellness: Provide resources and workshops to help employees manage their finances, reduce debt, and plan for retirement. Baby boomers and Gen Xers, in particular, may appreciate these offerings.

Diverse Perks: Include a mix of perks that appeal to different generations. This might include pet-friendly policies, wellness challenges, volunteer opportunities, or eco-friendly initiatives.

Communication and Education: Ensure that employees are well-informed about their benefit options. Conduct informational sessions, create user-friendly materials, and provide access to online resources for easy reference.

Four More Considerations

The last point, Communication and Education, is especially important. And how each generation prefers to be educated varies. That’s where our additional guide is a great tool. The guide highlights four considerations HR and benefits professionals should take to educate a multigenerational workforce about open enrollment and benefits. Get your copy now.