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Generational Shifts in Benefits by Charles Pareigis (March 22, 2018)

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Money is a magnet for attracting top-level talent for any organization.

But it’s not always the ultimate pull in retaining it, especially when factoring in the age of the talent in question.

A confluence of events (e.g., longer life expectancies, vanishing pension offerings, lingering stagnant wages and the rise of instantaneous digital collaboration) has altered the viewpoints of what it takes to keep employees happy.

Let’s break down the things that build up each generation’s spirits in terms of benefit preferences.

Baby Boomers

People are living longer, which is undeniably good. What’s undeniably unfortunate is the rising cost of healthcare, which compounds the predicament Baby Boomers – who are working longer out of necessity than desire – find themselves in.  

It should be no surprise that affordable healthcare – with an emphasis on affordable – tops their checklist of things to checkoff from an employer.

Similarly, health savings accounts (HSAs) are highly desirable as they afford, literally and figuratively, this generation to consistently budget for their unfair share of medical expenses.

Long-term care insurance also tops the list. Noticing a theme here? By paying in advance for in-home treatment or assistance, Boomers can alleviate the need for their children or family to help cover their care as they advance in age.


In some ways, the Sandwich Generation has it the worst of all: The pressure of quite possibly needing to pay for their parents’ care while tending to those of their own children.

Monetarily speaking, 401(k) plans with (preferably generous) matches by the employer are crucial for this generation, given pensions started drying up as they entered the workforce.

From a non-material perspective, Gen Xers crave a healthy work/life balance. This is completely logical, as they have two generations of family who need their constant attention. Flexible work schedules make their lives easier and more enjoyable.


A tragic study showed that 50% of Millennials would give up their right to vote if their student loans were wiped clean.

With college costs rising year over year, any employer who offers some sort of tuition reimbursement or student loan repayment benefit automatically shoots to the top of most Millennials’ employers-of-choice list.

Freedom is tantamount to happiness for this generation: Freedom from typical office spaces and working hours. They want freelance flexibility with full-time stability. Providing the opportunity to work from home two days a week or taking three-hour lunch breaks a day – so long as their work gets done – is as appealing as it gets.

In Conclusion

Building a comprehensive benefits package to suit your workforce’s demographics can be a challenge, especially with such widely differing generational preferences and expectations.

Be mindful of what – other than money – will make your employees loyal to your company and happy to do what’s asked of them.

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