National Connections, Local Ownership
National Connections, Local Ownership

The Benefits of Benefits: How to Generationally Attract Workers

Each generation has its own set of priorities and employers have to be sensitive to that fact when looking at recruiting and retaining talent.

Earlier this month, I posted an IdeaXchange blog discussing the value of a good benefits package as a recruiting and retention tool. That blog cited James Taylor, CEO of Launchways, who made a presentation at a recent NationaLease meeting where he noted that, according to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), 34 percent of organizations improved their benefits package last year.

What are the most important benefits?

That depends on who you ask, according to the SHRM statistics. Although medical/dental insurance and 401K availability top the list (at 67 percent and 55 percent respectively), for job seekers under 30, one of the most important lures was student loan reimbursement (48 percent).

That got me to thinking again of generational changes and how that would impact recruitment and retention efforts. Here’s an eye-opening fact that you probably haven’t considered: the first Millennials are now approaching 40 years of age! We have spent most of the last decade wondering how to appeal to this group and now we have to consider the desires of Generation Z, whose earliest members are just about to enter the job market.

The youngest Baby Boomers are now in their mid-50s and probably looking forward to retirement rather than a burgeoning career. They change jobs less frequently so once you have them, they will have a tendency to stay. The main pulls for them are a decent or competitive salary and benefits.

Gen X’ers (born between 1965 and 1976) have now been in the workforce an average of 20 years and they tend to share the desires of the Millennials a bit more than they do Boomers. They look for opportunities like career advancement and a flexible workspace (although the issues of insurance and salary still matter).

Millennials have a tendency to leave when dissatisfied, according to a Forbes article which notes that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the average millennial has held 7.8 jobs between the ages of 18 and 30.” This article asked members of the Forbes Business Development Council what Millennials are looking for when it comes to taking a position with an organization. One of the Board members, a millennial himself, looks for flexibility (“don’t obsess about start and end times of work”) and career development.

That issue of career development and a path upward is noted by 4 of the 7 Board members as extremely important. Another opined that this generation likes to work for purpose-driven organizations that values giving back to society. Yet another indicated that giving younger workers a fun and enjoyable experience can keep them with you for a longer time.

Generation Z has a number of the same desires as Millennials but they were born into a world where technology dominates and everything desired is just a click away. According to another Forbes Business Development Council discussion, Generation Z members learn and adapt quickly but, like their slightly older counterparts, they are also looking for work-life flexibility and a collaborative workplace environment. Since so many in this group have extensive student debt and have grown up during the 2008 recession, they may be less likely to shift from job to job on a whim.

What is abundantly clear is that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to recruiting and retaining workers from different generations. Make sure when you stress the benefits package, you focus on the issues that match that particular generation’s desires.

Read my full IdeaXchange blog for more information.

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