How to tailor employee benefits across the generations - part two

08 April, 2019

The first article in this series explored the different generations in the workforce and how their expectations around benefits are not being met. Particularly for younger employees.

In this article, we reveal how HR professionals can solve the inter-generational benefit conundrum and attract and retain the best employees.

The changing landscape of employee benefits

Employee benefits continue to play an important role in the attraction and recruitment process. A significant 60% of job seekers, across the generations, rate a comprehensive benefits package as a critical factor in their decision making process.

Yet designing the right benefits offering is a challenge as generations X, Y and Z account for increasing proportions of the workforce. Employers need to take more notice of their expectations, wants and needs. And translate these changes in attitude into comprehensive total reward.

One of the ways that employers can do this is to examine their existing benefits package. Research from Barclays shows that across all generations, 85% of employees feel their current benefits package fails to provide the support and flexibility required to meet their present and future needs.

This is concerning as it demonstrates a gap between organisations’ views of what employees want and what employees themselves need. So what can HR do to bridge this gap?

What benefits do employees want?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the benefits most in demand for each generation, match their life stages. For baby boomers, research shows that 71% value their employer pension scheme and 48% value health care. Perhaps more of a surprise is the fact that 57% value career development opportunities.

For generation X, 77% value their pension, 69% value flexible working hours and 41% value paying off the mortgage and spending more time with family and friends.

For generation Y, 64% cite ongoing personal and career development as important, 65% want financial guidance and 65% want help with a mortgage deposit.

Although the youngest of these three generations is likely to do less well financially than their parents’ generation, they do not have the conceptual financial building blocks to make good financial decisions. This has resulted in many organisation offering financial education as a benefit.

These insights aren’t exactly ground breaking and many total reward packages will offer a range of benefits that cover healthcare, flexible working, pension and career development. So how can HR create meaningful points of difference in their benefits provision?

How HR can meet emerging expectations

The first step is to find out what your employees really want so you can match benefits to younger generations’ needs. However, as Henry Ford, inventor of the motor car, warns: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses.’”

The same can be said of employees benefits. Ask staff what they desire and they usually say more flexibility and choice.

Filling the option gap relies on understanding all the generations in your workforce and implementing new benefits that meet their needs.

For example, did you know that 50% of millennials take out personal car finance to ensure their vehicle matches their social media profile?

If your business isn’t providing a car benefit via salary sacrifice, you’re missing an opportunity to:

  • Help people make their money go further
  • Use contractual lease plans to retain employees with your business
  • Reduce emissions
  • Make employer NI savings

Aligning benefits with social consciousness

Another major influence for millennials, gen Y and generation Z is social conscience and organisations are increasingly aligning their corporate objectives to a more socially conscious model.

When it comes to attracting and retaining, it’s essential to demonstrate that your organisation puts its money where its mouth is by aligning employee benefits with broader corporate social agendas.

That could mean opening the door to hybrid or electric vehicles via a car benefit scheme. Or providing showers and changing rooms for people who want to sign up to your cycle to work scheme.

Getting benefits right is a critical factor in developing a competitive total reward offering, attracting the right people for your business and keeping them engaged for the time they’re with you. The better you understand the needs of the different generations in your workforce, the closer the alignment between your benefits offering and their expectations.

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