“To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.” – Doug Conant.
Many business leaders understand that winning in the workplace is critical to the success of their businesses. It encompasses understanding your employees—knowing their generational diversity, what motivates them, and rewarding them accordingly.
A few decades ago, this could have been easier as the workplace was dominated by veterans and boomers who only valued monetary rewards and peer recognition. Today, the workplace has changed dramatically and those rewards might not hold much meaning to the modern employee.
For the first time in history, 4 generations—baby boomers, Generation X, millennials, and Gen Z and working side-by-side in the workplace. These diverse generational cohorts often pose challenges for leaders who are trying to bring the team together to achieve a common goal.
However, the challenges can be overcome once you understand how each generation wants to be motivated.
In this post, we’ll discuss the various employee benefits for boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z. But first, a primer on the different generations.
Understanding the Different Generations In the Workplace
As mentioned earlier, today’s workplace consists of 4 generational cohorts. Each generation has its own unique needs, style, goals, and traits for employers to consider. Understanding the different generational groups in the workplace will help you identify the perks and benefits that will motivate them. Without further ado, let’s briefly discuss each generation.
1. Baby Boomers (Born Between 1946 and 1964)
Also known as the “Me” generation, baby boomers are predominantly in their 50s and 60s and are well established in their careers. Notable members of this generation include Bill Gates, Barack Obama, and Oprah Winfrey.
This generation is credited with having a strong work ethic and thrives well in an environment that promotes growth and professional development.
Boomers are very hardworking and are often touted as the “workaholic generation.” Because they grew up without mobile phones and the internet, boomers often prefer one-on-one communication as opposed to the other tech-savvy generations.
2. Generation X (Born Between 1964 and 1980)
Also known as the post-boomers, Gen X-ers are predominantly in their 40s and 50s and are credited for introducing the notion of work-life balance. Notable members of this generation include Michael Jordan, Elon Musk, and Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO).
This generation watched the boomers turn into workaholics in a workforce that encouraged long work hours and yearned to change the system. They are known for being self-sufficient and extremely independent—valuing freedom and discrediting micromanagement in the workplace.
3. Generation Y (Born Between 1980 to 1996)
Generation Y (also called millennials) is predominantly in their 20s and 30s and make up the majority of the workforce. Notable members of this generation include Mark Zuckerberg, David Karp (founder of Tumblr), and Jessica Alba.
Millennials exude interest in technology and the internet of things (IoT) and are sometimes touted as the digital generation. They aim to work smarter rather than harder and are comfortable with remote working arrangements.
That said, millennials are also known for selling their skills to the highest bidder and have no problem jumping from one organization to another. That means they aren’t as loyal as boomers in the workplace.
4. Generation Z (Born 1997 Onwards)
Gen Z consists of youngsters who are currently entering the workforce. Since they grew up in a digital environment, they’re tech-savvy, even more than millennials. That said, Gen Z-ers are always connected and prefer flexible work schedules alongside anything that can foster personal and professional growth.
What Motivates Different Generations of Employees
Once you identify the different generations in the workplace, understanding what motivates them becomes easier. Here’s a breakdown of the ideal employee benefits for each generation.
Employee Benefits for Baby Boomers
Here are some benefits that will keep baby boomers motivated at the workplace.
Given their age and career stage, the top benefits for baby boomers revolve around health care and finances. Employer benefits such as medical, dental, and life insurance top the list of benefits that the boomer generation yearns for.
As far as healthcare is concerned, employers should look at tax-advantaged healthcare accounts, like Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). Boomers value these accounts because they can fund them tax-free and use the money for qualified health expenses.
2. Financial Benefits
Almost 10,000 boomers turn 65 every day so retirement planning and benefits are a top priority for this generation. That said, boomers pay attention to 401(k) matching funds, sabbaticals, and tax-free retirement funding accounts.
3. Recognition for Achievements
Boomers are loyal, ambitious, work-centric, and goal-oriented. They are loyal to their careers and put work before everything else.
In line with that, boomers will appreciate anything that provides them with opportunities for professional development. Since boomers are workaholics, they are motivated by work-related benefits such as promotions, praise, and having their work/expertise acknowledged.
The stigma of flexible working is changing. As a result, even baby boomers yearn for flexibility at the workplace these days—something you’d only expect to get from the tech-savvy generations.
In a recent Harvard Business Review survey, 87% of boomers said they consider work flexibility very important. That’s because they’ve built lives outside of the office and have more generations to care for.
Employee Benefits for Gen X
Gen X-ers are independent, resourceful, and self-sufficient. Here are some benefits that will keep them motivated in the workplace.
1. Lifestyle Benefits
Many of Gen X-ers are in their employment prime, holding key influential positions in many organizations. According to the Global Leadership Focus 2018 report, Gen X-ers will soon be occupying every important leadership role in the world.
Many of them still have youthful energy left and are in charge of leading the younger tech-centric generations. That said, many yearn for benefits that will exemplify their top-echelon positions, which is reflected in their lifestyle.
Typical lifestyle benefits that Gen X-ers yearn for include competitive salaries, job security, flexibility for work/life balance, and relocation benefits, especially in the event of an international transfer.
2. Family Benefits
Gen X-ers are unique among their generational counterparts in that most of them are caring for older parents while also raising their own children.
Industry reports show that Gen X workers are supporting an average of 2 children aged between 13 and 26 years. As such, the X-ers value employers who provide family benefits as part of the compensation package. These benefits include spouse and child health coverage, Dependent Care FSA, and flexible working plans.
3. Employer-Sponsored Healthcare Benefits
According to a recent Lockton report, Gen X workers are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions than the younger generations.
The report further says that 45% of the X-ers have at least one chronic condition that may result from stress, diabetes, high blood pressure, or musculoskeletal disorders. That said, Gen X workers place healthcare benefits as a top priority. The value employers who offer multiple health plans to choose from.
4. Financial Benefits
Gen X employees are smart and want to make sure they’re covered, and will gladly appreciate attractive retirement plans offered by employers.
While you might think that Gen X workers are close to paying off their student loans, their debt is higher than that of the younger generations.
According to an Experian report, the average student loan debt balance for Gen X is $39,584. The high debt is due to the many financial obligations they shoulder, including clearing the student loans, paying college fees for their children, not to forget that many are still pursuing professional courses like PMP to become better project managers and advance their careers.
That said, Gen X workers value employers who provide benefits such as a Student Loan Assistant Program to help ease the heavy financial burden.
Employee Benefits for Millennials
Millennials are tech-savvy and thus motivated by things that are a little more on the creative and technological side of life. Here’s a breakdown of the employee benefits for millennials.
1. Student Loan Repayment Assistant
A recent AICPA survey found that nearly two-thirds of young job seekers have a student loan debt, with an average debt of $33, 332. When surveyed, 40% of millennials said they would prefer an employer who offers student loan repayment assistance.
2. Opportunities to Learn New Tech
Millennials are a tech-savvy generation and everything they do revolves around technology. They think technology first and will prefer to work with companies that are fast embracing technology or offer opportunities to learn new tech.
3. Flexible Work Schedules
One of the biggest benefits millennials want in a workplace is flexible work schedules. According to a 2013 PwC study of millennials in the workplace, millennials value flexibility and are comfortable working remotely.
Flexible work schedules have become the new norm in the workplace and millennial employees love to exercise some form of control over where and when to work. Plus working remotely is facilitated by technology which happens to be the forte of this generation.
4. Health Insurance
Millennials place significant importance on health insurance. Employers also know that a good healthcare plan goes a long way in attracting top talent.
It’s estimated that 40% of Americans don’t see a physician when sick or injured due to the high healthcare costs. A comprehensive health insurance plan that will reduce out of the pocket costs for your employees will be highly attractive to Gen Y workers.
5. 401(k) Retirement Fund Match
As many as 35% of millennials will give a top priority to a 401(k) retirement plan. By beginning to save for retirement early, millennials can benefit from decades of compounding growth. Companies that offer the best retirement plans are more likely to attract millennials and the younger generations.
Employee Benefits for Gen Z
Gen Z-ers are new to the workplace. Most of them are college graduates who are looking for opportunities to enhance their professional growth and gain practical work experience. Here are a few benefits that will motivate this new generation of workers.
1. Opportunities for Professional Development
A growing body of evidence shows that opportunities for professional development are some of the most valuable benefits a company can give to the Gen Z employees.
From paid training programs to mentoring programs to seminars and in-house training, there are many ways a company can incorporate professional development opportunities into the employee perks and benefits package.
2. Volunteering Opportunities
Most of Gen Z-ers are college students entering the workforce with little to no experience. As such, they’ll appreciate anything that adds value to their resume, such as volunteering opportunities.
Gen Z workers are also socially conscious and prefer to work with companies that value corporate social responsibility. In a 2016 Cone Communication survey of young workers, two-thirds of the workers said they would not accept a job offer from a company that does not have a strong commitment to community work.
3. Financial Resources & Education
Studies show that good health insurance and retirement plans are on top of the list of Gen Z-ers benefits but you can go the extra mile to offer other forms of financial assistance.
For instance, you can include a student loan repayment assistance plan in the benefits package. This can be an astute move to attract top talents considering most Gen Z-ers will have student loan debts, and only a handful of organizations offer students loan repayment as a benefit.
4. Mentoring Opportunities
Young employees who are new to the workplace always benefit from mentoring opportunities offered by mentors and senior employees. Gen Z employees will embrace anything that fosters positive development and mentoring opportunities fit the bill.
It’s important to understand that there is more that goes into motivating employees than just offering financial incentives.
The first and most important thing is to understand the generational diversity in the workplace and what makes each generation tick. Once you understand this, you’ll be able to incorporate benefits that match their taste. If you do it right, you’ll never have to worry about low productivity or high employee turnover rate.