The American workforce is more diverse than it’s ever been. Different backgrounds, cultures and worldviews are converging like never before, and HR professionals across the country are having to adjust their strategies to accommodate these dynamics. Perhaps one of the most impactful – and understated – dynamics of diversity is that of generational divide.
Today we have FIVE generations coexisting in the same workplace – the first time in history that’s been the case. Before we get into the implications, here’s a quick breakdown of the age groups:
Traditionalists, born before 1946
- Loyal workers
- Risk averse (shaped by Great Depression)
- High regard for interpersonal communication
Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964
- Prioritize work over personal life
- Distrust authority and large systems
- Optimistic and open to change
Gen X, born between 1965 and 1980
- Big on work/life balance
- Strong technical skills
- Independent and adaptive
Millennials, born between 1981 and 1997
- Appreciate diversity and inclusion
- Tech savvy
Gen 2020, born after 1997
- Hyper-connected (have never not known the Internet)
- Sensitive to environmental and social issues
- Economically cautious
Clearly, there are a lot of differences there. And as more traditionalists and boomers labor past retirement age and Gen 2020 establishes a firmer foothold in the job market, the differences will only become more pronounced. This figures to present a significant challenge for employee engagement and satisfaction efforts, especially with respect to benefits programs. Companies can no longer assume that the traditional approach to benefits will attract and retain top talent. It’s time to get creative.
In this three-part series, we’ll take a look at steps you can take to reenergize your benefits program to satisfy the needs of a diverse, multigenerational workforce – and gain an edge in the war for talent.
Part One – Offer More Choice
When it comes to benefits, one size simply does not fit all. Your offering needs to reflect this truth and provide options to address the varied health and financial needs of your employee population. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is through the availability of voluntary benefits.
A financial safety net
Over the past several years, rising costs and healthcare reform have forced employees – across all age groups – to become more active in their own healthcare decisions and shoulder more of the financial burden. Consequentially, they want more choices and more value from their benefits plans. With medical debt triggering the majority of bankruptcy filings in the U.S., it’s vital that employers offer adequate protection to their workforce. That’s where voluntary benefits can be a huge help.
Voluntary benefits can serve to bridge the gap in coverage created by the move to higher out-of-pocket costs, helping employees enjoy lower premiums while protecting their health, their families and their income. Traditional voluntary products have included short-term disability, critical illness and life insurance policies. But more and more, employees can build a stronger financial safety net through non-traditional voluntary benefits such as financial planning and education, pet insurance, legal plans, and identity theft protection. As voluntary benefits continue to evolve, employees are increasingly able to customize their benefits package to suit their individual needs.
For employers who want to retain top talent, keep employees healthy and better manage healthcare spending, voluntary benefits provide low cost, easy-to-implement options that go a long way in driving employee satisfaction. In this new era of healthcare consumerism, voluntary benefits could prove indispensable.
How do you know what to offer?
Your employees are counting on you to deliver a mix of options that will work for them. This requires you to vet the best voluntary products and negotiate the best price. But how can you be sure you’ve designed the optimal package to meet the unique needs of your workforce, while still supporting the strategic goals of the organization? Achieving the right balance requires the right level of transparency into your benefits data.
You’ve got to determine which products will best complement your core medical plans, but without thorough insight into how these plans are being used, that’s a tall order. Modern data analytics tools can eliminate the guesswork for you, drilling down into your claims data and workforce demographics to help you identify gaps in coverage and better understand what your employees value the most. This allows you to develop a comprehensive benefits strategy that takes care of everyone in the organization.
Learn more about how you can build a better benefits package with voluntary options.
In Part Two, we’ll take a look at the issue of communicating these options to a diverse, multigenerational workforce. Stay tuned!