What Gen Z Wants from their Benefits: Taking a Generational Approach to Benefit Strategy

Employee Benefits, War For Talent

For the first time in modern history, the workforce is made up of four distinct generations. Baby boomers, Gen X, millennial, and Gen Z professionals are meeting up at the water cooler in our workplaces, each with vastly different needs from their employer and facing different pressures from the world around us.

You’ve likely been dealing with the advantages and consequences of such a varied workforce for a few years now, facing challenges like early retirements that facilitate loss of organizational intelligence and a lack of veteran employees to coach and mentor your green workforce. At the same time, multigenerational skillsets are invaluable to a modern business, and it’s important to cultivate a culture powered by a benefits package that retains professionals in every generation.

This information is nothing new to HR and benefits professionals. The war for talent has made it imperative that your organization becomes attractive to a multigenerational workforce, yet managing the logistics and desires of that employee population is easier said than done.

Connecting the needs of different generations of employees is critical to your organization’s cultural health – have you considered how your benefits strategy comes into play?

Traditional benefits aren’t cutting it

The old-fashioned way to approach benefits was this: work with a broker to pick a health plan that worked for your employees and your bottom line and try to get the best deal with your carrier partner. For that matter, only consider health benefits – that’s all your employees care about!

Enter: the multigenerational workforce. Today’s employees prefer, even demand, more benefits options from their employers.

Employers who want to attract (and more importantly retain) a multigenerational workforce need to take a customized approach to benefits planning. In partnership with a broker, employers must look beyond traditional health benefits to research, understand, and predict what benefits provide the most value to their employees. From voluntary benefits to creative offerings like childcare stipends, it’s up to employers who want to win the war for talent to address multigenerational needs with innovative options.

People first, employees second

To do this effectively, employers must take a different viewpoint of their workforce, and see individuals as people first, and employees second.

With a people-first approach, employers can begin to ask better questions of their employees in regard to their benefit strategy. What problems are our employees facing in their day-to-day lives that keep them from feeling secure and productive at work? What challenges could keep employees from retaining their position? What social determinants of health are at play in our employee population? How do each of these answers change on a generational basis?

All of these questions should help you form a baseline understanding of your employee population, and provide tangible next steps for adjusting your benefits strategy accordingly.

So, what trends are we seeing generationally?

We can look at recent research to see trends in what members of each generation within the workforce are expecting and needing from their benefits. For example, we know that baby boomers and Gen X professionals tend to prefer traditional benefits like health insurance, 401(k), and dental options over more custom benefits, while millennials and Gen Z employees may rank things like paid & unpaid leave and even personal insurance coverages like home and auto higher.

Data is available from many sources (even broken down to a demographic, industry, and socioeconomic level), but your best bet is to avoid taking it at face value. Instead, use this data as a jumping off point to have integral conversations with your employees to determine what they truly want and need from you as an employer.

Key Takeaways

The war for talent has given employees of every generation a reason to rethink their current employment status. In order to retain a multigenerational workforce, employers must consider their employees as people first, and suss out the unique needs of their population before landing on a comprehensive benefits strategy.

Contact your M3 account executive today to discuss the generations that make up your population, and how your current strategy is catering to their distinctive needs.

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