Most people have a bias about different generations of people. Millennials are often seen as tech-savvy, Boomers not so much. Gen Xers are seen as conscientious and hardworking, while Millennials are lazy yet entitled. Although some of these biases have strains of truth, holding too tightly to them could be standing in the way of helping your employees work effectively together.
In a yesterday’s webinar, “60 Years in 60 Minutes: 3 Steps to understanding Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers,” our panel of experts shared key insights on navigating generational differences, and offered our audience – and me personally, as a manager – several helpful tips on how to overcome preconceived notions using these 3 E’s.
It is important to continuously evolve the way we think about benefits and benefit selections. Sure, different generations have different preferences, but it’s more important to recognize commonalities as well.
A great example is a student loan repayment program. It can seem like Millennials are the only employees that need help repaying loans, but upon closer examination, you might find that Gen X and Boomers also need assistance. Carol Harnett, Independent Benefits Consultant, shared that Gen Xers and Boomers are increasingly going back to school to hone their skills and advance their careers. Many also take on student loans to help their children pay for college. Recognizing common priorities between diverse groups will help you understand how to shape your benefits offering to the advantage of your entire employee population.
A common issue for HR and benefits professionals is getting employees to engage with their benefits. Understanding the ways different generations prefer to choose and use their benefits is critical to creating a program that works for every employee. For example, online tools have become essential to the benefits selection process, particularly for younger employees. In fact, generational insights expert, Cam Marston, shared that Millennials typically trust technology more than a human expert, so an interactive, easy-to-use online tool is essential if you want this group to engage with their benefits.
At Businessolver, we’ve taken the idea of “interactive” one step further with our MyChoice recommendation engine, which provides personalized benefits recommendations based on a user’s lifestyle and specific needs. We’ve found this tool especially helpful for young employees who may be just starting out in the professional world and selecting benefits for the first time.
Another critical insight our experts shared is that employees – across every generation – want empathy in the workplace. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what they need in a benefits package. Today, employee needs are driven heavily by where they are in life: Millennials want skills-development opportunities, Gen X is keen for greater childcare options, and Boomers desire better healthcare. Complicating these needs is the fact that the timeline for major life milestones is evolving: Millennials are delaying big moments – such as buying houses, getting married and having children – later than previous generations.
It’s clear that one size does not fit all and will no longer work as an approach to benefits. Applying a little empathy can help you better understand how to create a benefits package that fits every employee.