Keeping employees satisfied at work not only aids in retention, it also increases your organization’s overall productivity. In the current economy, it is vital to offer a benefits package that is desirable to your employees and assists in their retention as the economy rebounds.
There are four generations currently in the workforce: traditionalists (born 1900-1945), baby boomers (born 1946-1964), GenXers (born 1965-1976) and millennials (born 1977-1995). Each generation has unique attributes that make it a vital component of your organization’s makeup and future success. There is no blanket compensation strategy that is ideal for all generations. Focus on offering compensation plans that cater to the generations’ priorities and lifestyles and that provide the highest level of employee satisfaction.
Millennials: As the youngest generation in the workforce — and the largest — millennials are looking for compensation that includes a total life package. In addition to traditional benefits, millennials value hours and dress code flexibility, fitness or health awareness programs, technical gadgets such as smart phones and company laptops, and even the ability to listen to their iPods while working.
Feed this generation’s need to succeed by offering educational reimbursement and other structured training programs. Keep in mind that millennials have the tendency to get bored. While fancy new titles may suffice for other generations, millennials look for advancement in terms of expanded responsibilities, special projects and leadership opportunities.
GenXers: Generation X is the first generation to demand work-life balance. While driven by competitive compensation packages, they are willing to accept less compensation when coupled with flexible schedules that enable them to spend quality time with their families. GenXers seek companies that empower their employees and offer job sharing, flexible work hours and telecommuting options to help them balance their family obligations.
Generation X is non-traditional in terms of career advancement. They thrive on challenge and espouse to a “career lattice” rather than a “career ladder.” They value employers that have formal, transparent succession strategies and career development plans. GenXers also respond well to companies with performance management processes that provide direct, honest feedback.
Baby Boomers: Many baby boomers have seen their retirement and savings accounts take a hit in the past few years. Additionally, some may not have maxed out their retirement account contributions early in their careers and may need to make up for that deficit now. Thus, boomers are motivated by packages that allow for deferred compensation and high matches in retirement plans and/or pension programs.
In direct contrast to millennials and GenXers, baby boomers find a sense of self in the work they do. This lends well to public recognition in company newsletters or meetings. Unmistakably loyal, boomers will remain committed to a company as long as that employer proves its dedication to them by meeting their needs, such as security and liberalized benefits.
Traditionalists: Believe it or not, there are still a number of traditionalists in the workplace. Members of this generation are willing to accept creative compensation programs, as long as they meet their specific needs. Traditional health and benefit plans may not be attractive if they are eligible for Medicare. Known for their strong work ethic, traditionalists are also very loyal to their employers. If you respect their desire to spend time traveling or with their grandchildren, they will stay on board to help ease the knowledge gap. Employers also can demonstrate their gratitude through traditional recognition gestures such as plaques, watches and retirement parties.
The bottom line? A one-size-fits-all compensation package will not accommodate all of your employees. Break away from the traditional definition of compensation to attract and retain a diverse and talented workforce. Enhance employee satisfaction by offering benefits packages that speak to each generation’s values and lifestyles.
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