Today's business environment may be the first to include four different generations working side-by-side toward shared economic and commercial goals. HR professionals are working hard to understand how to make the most of the wide range of experience and expertise that's crossing paths in the workplace. One area of concern is benefits administration. Does a multi-generational workforce have specific benefits administration related needs? Here's a closer look at what companies can do to proactively manage these issues.
Prioritize Communication through Diverse Channels
One of the most important aspects driving the perceived value of benefits is employer communication. Many employees are unaware of the benefits that their employers provide. A lack of knowledge leads to a lack of engagement. Prioritizing communication around benefits raises awareness and helps employees make the most of benefits resources available to them. When dealing with a multigenerational workforce, it's important to communicate through different channels. Younger employees may prefer to receive information digitally and to use self-service features for enrollment.
Employees from earlier generations may be accustomed to printed materials and having access to a knowledgeable HR person to answer their questions. A multi-dimensional benefits communication plan should include home mailings, emails, newsletters, benefits microsites, HR meetings, and vendor-driven meetings. Provide a range of options that allow different staff, regardless of generation, to learn more about their benefits in the way that they prefer.
Understand That Priorities Evolve
Employees in different phases of their lives may be focused on different areas of their compensation and benefits packages. Younger employees may be focused on salary, tuition reimbursement, and formal training opportunities. Employees with young families may be particularly concerned with healthcare coverage, flexible workforce arrangements, and work/life balance. Tenured employees may be focused on healthcare and retirement benefits. These are generalizations, but they underscore the reality that different issues may be priorities at different stages of life.
Companies can respond in three ways. The first is being aware of the need for a range of different benefits to accommodate employees' changing and evolving priorities. The second is understanding the need to potentially highlight benefits to prospective employees at different stages. And the final step is to think about whether banded communications may be appropriate around certain benefits. For example, some retirement plans have specific communications collateral aimed at recent graduates and college hires that highlights the benefits of starting to save for retirement early. Other vendors may provide helpful guidance to employees approaching retirement on how to handle withdrawals from their accounts.
Use Employee Demographics to Guide Benefits Investments
In certain cases, managing benefits in a multi-generational workplace provides companies with the opportunity to customize their benefits offerings to a core demographic. For example, would an on-site daycare facility offer value to your staff? Are tuition assistance or access to mortgage services relevant for your employees? Think about who your employees are and which benefits are most likely to support their success.
Today's multi-generational workforce offers significant benefits to employers in terms of a range of experience and creative problem-solving skills. But the reality of managing a multi-generational workforce means tailoring the benefits element of your human capital management strategy to different audiences. By focusing on communication, the benefits mix, and understanding the priorities of each generation, your company may well be well on its way to a sustainable benefits strategy.