For the last few years, employers have been focused on the reality that having four generations in the workforce requires a different approach to communicating the value of benefits and pensions as well as the plan designs themselves.
There were a number of external forces at play that resulted in the intergenerational mix we find in today's workplace settings. We see Millenials, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Traditionalists working together.
Who makes up this diverse set of workers ?
With often divergent needs and communication styles when it comes to what benefits they want and how they learn about what is available to them, supporting employees of all ages has become increasingly relevant. It involves plan design considerations that factor in age-informed benefit plans and strategies.
The reality that tensions exist among the four groups. Younger generations complain that they pay for current retirees instead of more effectively funding their own plans. While it seems an unbalanced degree of cost sharing may be going on, retirees aren't in a position to undo their decisions.
Are the assumptions made about benefits and pension plan design from ten to twenty years ago still relevant and appreciated? Looking for ways to understand plan member consumption patterns and the value they plan on benefits is critical. It is also helpful to consider generation sizes and life expectancy in the workplace as well a changing risk and liability assumptions.
Benefits that a Gen Y value may be quite different than the emphasis a Baby Boomer could place on another. Thoughts of saving for retirement and investment considerations often are not top of mind for a 20 something worker where as a Baby Boomer might spend them reviewing pension investment options to yield maximum returns. Even talking about planning for retirement may fall on deaf ears for Millennials who believe retirement is so far in the distance that it isn't worth their while discussing.
Offering a rich dental plan for young workers without families may prove frustrating when Gen Y employees don't recognize the value of their orthodontic coverage. Why should they? They either are single, don't have children or if they do, they are so young that the benefits of orthodontics seem wasted on them.
Communicating in ways that allows for the message and its value to be well received requires an awareness of generational preferences.Knowing how to find strengths and common traits among the generations is essential. For example, to engage Traditionalists, more formal and face-to-face communication works well. To reach Gen Y, positive, fun and online two-way communication methods are highly effective. For Baby Boomers, they like to collaborate and reference practical examples and stories. Gen X'ers prefer flexibility in terms of how they receive information and like being offered choice. They still read email and may respond well to information shared online through a website with a blog.
Designing benefits and pension programs that resonate with employees viewing the world with a different generational lens can prove challenging. Call or email us to help you successfully navigate the sometimes bumpy waters that make up the sea of intergenerational workers. We're here to help so you can focus on what you do best.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.