Talent that drives the success of a company is multi-generational. Working alongside each other are Baby Boomers, Gen X, Y (Millennials) and Z. Each generation brings its own talents and characteristics. They each have their own unique needs when it comes to employee benefits provided by the company. There is no one-size-fits-all to employee benefits which will meet the needs of all generations in this diverse workforce.
To truly invest in their talent, an employer must carefully examine benefit options that appeal to all four generations in the workplace and offer benefits relevant to employees’ needs. When a company offers personalized benefit options, the employer and employees both win. By meeting the varying needs of each group, a company’s personalized benefit package can help maximize its Employee Value Proposition (EVP). thrusting the company into the spotlight as an employer committed to meeting the needs of its talent and communicating that the company is a bona fide best place to work.
Employee Benefits and Compensation
Benefits and compensation can be complicated not only for employees but HR as well; however, personalizing benefits does not have to complicate the benefits process further. Personalized benefits within the HR realm is the concept of providing benefits that employees want and actually use. This offers a way for a company to meet not only generational needs, but the needs of employees in different locations and professional levels. When employees have access to benefits that help them professionally and personally, this increases employee satisfaction and productivity leading to reduced turnover and increased profits.
Evolving from the one-size-fits-all to personalized benefits concepts takes time and communication. Solicit feedback from employees as to what types of benefits they seek, and incorporate new benefits gradually to prevent employees, managers, and HR from becoming overwhelmed. Benefit selection does not need to feel like walking down the bread aisle of a grocery store with hundreds of options. Start small, and grow slowly.
Generational Employee Benefits
Each generation has its own needs. Research shows that mental health resources are a high priority for Gen Z. They completed their education through a global pandemic and have lived completely through the internet age so technology is native to them. Accessing online and app-based healthcare, especially mental healthcare, is important to Gen Z. Gen X and Millennials are often caregivers for children and older family members so comprehensive, lower-premium health benefits that include dependents and live-in relatives are sought. Boomers are exiting the workforce through retirement so their needs are shifting. While working, they seek benefits that are focused on prevention. Screenings and annual checkups are important as they try to mitigate the onset of health issues before retirement.
Non-Health Related Benefits
For all four generations, do not underestimate the desire for non-health related benefits. Financial management, retirement guidance and professional development benefits are highly sought after as well. AFLAC reports that 80% of individuals surveyed want support and guidance on personal finances for daily life in addition to retirement planning assistance. By having company provided financial advisors accessible to employees, employees have the opportunity to plan for tomorrow while living within their means today.
Helping employees invest and budget their wages can guide them to more effectively spend and save their money instead of feeling like they are not meeting their financial needs. If an employee does not feel they are making ends meet with their current wages, they will look elsewhere. Reduce turnover by providing financial advisors who can show employees how to effectively spend and save instead. By offering company sponsored financial advisement, employees do not have to pay for those services which saves them money, and employers have a higher likelihood of employee retention when employees see how to stretch and save each dollar.
One of the most common ways to personalize benefits is to provide employees with a monthly or annual expense allowance. It can be in the form of employee reimbursements or expense (debit-style) cards. Most people are familiar with the concept of Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). These are used typically for co-pays, approved prescription or OTC drugs, and medical devices. To promote benefit personalization, some employers are incorporating Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSAs). These can be used for child or elder care, fitness and wellness programs. as well as other items typically not covered with a FSA or Health Savings Account (HSA).
LSAs can have parameters of use set by the employer. However, make sure those parameters will meet the needs of the employees while reaffirming the company’s values and ethics. Gym memberships, home workout equipment, organic food, social events, and relaxation opportunities (i.e. hobbies like reading, travel, etc.) are highly desired benefits that could be considered within a LSA. Although many roles have shifted to remote or hybrid, not all have. Commuter benefit plans help people pay mass transit or parking costs.
No matter the benefit package, HR’s efforts to promote benefit use are essential. While it is the employee’s responsibility to know what benefits they have, employees appreciate the opportunity to have HR personnel as a resource. They can help them navigate questions and benefit use. HR can send messages via email and text to employees about available benefits that employees might not be using. As well as provide general information and links to access the service. Host quarterly Q/A meetings with employees to remind them about available benefits. Also to get feedback on the current benefits offered to plan for next year. Collect feedback through surveys and small focus groups to find out what benefits employees seek that are not currently offered by the company.
Send reminders to employees periodically through the year to remind them to use their FSA money before the deadline and include lists of approved ways to spend FSA funds. Promote telehealth visits for time and money savings. Telehealth can reduce costly urgent care and ER visits. They can also reduce absenteeism with the convenience of not having to take off work for a doctor’s appointment.
Personalized benefits focus on the person. Each employee is a person with personal and professional needs and a desire to fulfill them. When a company offers personalized benefits that are aligned with their employees’ needs. Employees witness a commitment by the employer to the wellbeing of employees. Employees and employers both are in an aggressive fight with rising costs and inflation. However, personalized benefits can offer a way for employees and employers to fight that fight together where each entity becomes stronger together in the long run.