As people live and work longer than ever before, organizations are now made up of employees from very different generations. Since each generation grew up in vastly different environments, the workforce is composed of wide-ranging value sets, communication styles and personal needs. This means that the intricacies of workplace communication – what we say and how we say it – have become increasingly complex. Workers from each generation not only bring a wide array of experiences, they are also experiencing different life events and expectations. This influences work and communication habits, as well as benefit needs and participation.
While each generation – at its various life stages – has needs that can be met by employee benefits, a universal benefits communications approach will fall short in explaining a viable enrollment strategy. A one-size-fits-all approach will not provide meaningful information on how combining participation in various benefits can ease stress, fears and concerns and provide the most stability to the employee. Even when it comes to a single benefit, retirement, the age groups have different perceptions and needs. The Boomers are feeling financially squeezed and are delaying retirement after investments took a hit during the COVID-19 crisis; Generation X is feeling the least financially secure, are trying to make ends meet and are not focused on retirement; and Generation Y is concerned about financial risk and even though they are young, many are concerned with long-term financial security.
Consistent with variations in life circumstances, employees want benefits tailored to their specific needs. Almost 70% of workers would be more likely to take advantage of a benefits package tailored to their life stage. Communicating the benefits in unique ways can help employees see how these offerings are truly beneficial.
Specifically, Boomers are looking for packages that rely heavily on retirement, health savings plans and voluntary insurance policies. They want to protect their assets in case of serious illness and at this stage they want benefits that are portable and offer continued protection long after they stop working.
The Generation X employees are trying to balance a lot in life – raising children, sending kids off to college, and starting to really think about retirement. This group is also very likely to leave employers. The loyalty to one employer is not as strong in large part because this group was greatly affected with layoffs during COVID-19 and the transition from Cadillac health plans and pension plans to more shared cost type benefits. They acknowledge unhealthy habits and look favorably on benefits that can help increase health while reducing medical costs.
Finally, the Generation Y employees are the most skeptical of corporate life and are very concerned with financial stability. This group is the most likely to purchase voluntary benefits to help achieve stability and fill the gap in coverages. However, while willing to take full advantage of benefits, being new to benefits administration and enrollment procedures and regulations, this group needs help with the general information on benefits and how to properly utilize all features.
Whether its retirement, financial stability, healthy habits, or simply general information on how the benefits can meet their needs, employees want and need information that is directly related to them. Targeting communication allows employees to understand “what’s in it for me”. Being able to see how the company has invested in them and how the benefit offerings can be tailored to their specific needs can drive employee participation and overall engagement within the organization.