Much has been made of today’s multi-generational workforce and wide-ranging expectations that Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials have for their professional and personal lives. As these individuals coexist in the workplace, employers can feel challenged to meet a more diverse set of benefits and communications needs than ever before.
Perspective: Of the three generations, Baby Boomers were arguably the hardest hit by the Great Recession, which seriously compromised their retirement funds. Nearly two-thirds of this group have at least one chronic condition – such as heart disease or diabetes – so a benefits package that includes access to voluntary plans such as critical illness insurance may be appealing to help protect their finances in the event of a serious diagnosis.
Communication Approach: When it comes time for Boomers to learn about and enroll in their plans, they tend to absorb information best when it comes via paper and usually prefer to communicate by phone or in person. An enrollment that provides written information in advance of speaking with a benefits counselor is an effective approach to helping them feel comfortable with their benefits decisions.
Perspective: Many Gen Xers were at the pinnacle of their personal and professional lives when the 2008 recession hit, so like the Baby Boomer generation before them, they have a heightened awareness of the importance of protecting their financial security. But, unlike most Baby Boomers, they have more substantial family considerations in mind when it comes to their benefits. It should come as no surprise that this demographic purchases more insurance than any other generation: an average of 5.3 non-medical products per person, according to Liazon; so a robust voluntary portfolio to supplement their core medical plan is imperative.
Communication Approach: Gen X employees are usually practical, informal, and tech savvy; so piles of long-form paperwork will be ineffective for them. They tend to prefer email communications and are likely to shy away from picking up the phone. Gen Xers want to ensure the plans they select are a good match for their lifestyle and appreciate when a benefits professional can help them choose the right options. For them, an enrollment strategy that pairs digital communications with face-to-face interactions is a good bet.
Perspective: Depending on who you ask, Millennials were born between 1980 and 2000. And now the youngest generation is also the largest in the American workforce. As their numbers rise, employers must understand this group’s benefits needs in order to recruit and retain fresh talent. Like the generations before them, this group has been shaped by the Great Recession, having witnessed their parents struggle to keep or find employment. But as they’ve entered the workforce they’ve been immediately confronted by an unprecedented financial burden: crushing student debt. Affordable, flexible benefits choices are important for Millennials; and since they are much more likely to switch jobs than any generation before them they also value benefits with portability features.
Communication Approach: When it comes to decision making, Millennials are likely to be motivated by personalization and testimonials. They have been saturated by advertising more in their lifetime than any other age group, so they have sophisticated filters for marketing information. They prefer digital communications and are downright uncomfortable with phone conversations. For them, rifling through paperwork is about as reasonable asking them to go out to the well for their drinking water. To best reach Millennials, consider a digitally-focused enrollment approach with easy-to-use tools and minimal insurance jargon.
Closing the Generation Gap…
While it’s important to remember that these groups are made up of unique individuals, often there are common threads that apply when it comes to their points of view, how they process information, and their favored communications styles. Employers can draw on these generalities to design a benefits package structured to better suit their company’s demographics.