3 ways to engage the multigenerational workforce
28 Nov 2017 - Estimated reading time: 1 min
For the first time in the modern age, some companies will have five generations in their workplace. From 'Traditionalists' born before 1945 all the way up until Generation Z, the generational diversity present in many workplaces can create a range of challenges. It can also present a competitive advantage, if well managed.
So how can employers effectively address the needs of a multigenerational workforce?
Below are three key takeaways from our recent research into engaging with a multigenerational workforce.
1. Presume less, listen more
Employees are people, not generational identities. So don’t allow preconceptions or unconscious bias to influence your expectations of what different age groups may want and need. While benchmarking can be useful for many things, it won’t actually tell you what employees want. Ultimately, there’s no substitute for actually asking employees what they need.
To better understand what employees really want from their benefits package, we ran a number of tailored focus groups, using a proven methodology to establish popularity levels of different benefits.
Our research provided some interesting results:
- 40% of participants said non-cash benefits were important or very important when deciding on which employer to work for.
- Group income protection was very popular with every demographic. This was more apparent where there had been engaging communications.
- While millennials generally lean more towards digitised content and communication, when it comes to financial advice they still very much appreciate traditional face-to-face financial consultation.
- Many millennials place a lot of value on low-cost benefits – such as buy/sell holiday options, and retail and leisure discounts.
- Retirement doesn’t feature high on the radar for 16-24 year olds, with only 4% saying it was attractive when deciding which employer to work for. Despite this, 73% of all participants said they intend to retire below state pension age.
2. Prescribe less, empower more
Less prescription, and more employee choice, equals more empowerment – the key ingredient for higher employee wellbeing. It’s vital to remember, however, that just as too little choice can diminish engagement, too much choice can have the same effect.
Wellness funds can be an effective way to transfer ownership to employees and were found to be more popular than specific wellness initiatives. Our survey found that 88% of employees prefer a wellness fund – to spend on a range of options – over an annual company health screen or discounted wearable devices.
3. Consider the needs of older workers
The older workforce is an increasingly important group that receives relatively little attention. By just 2020, 36% of workers will be over 50. And projected demographic profiles for 2035 show a big increase in the number of older people. Many older workers have much more to offer the business. Moreover, their transition into retirement should not be viewed as an abrupt cliff-edge, but as something that can be smoothly managed through flexible working.
Older workers have more care responsibilities than previous generations, owing to increasing longevity. They are the ‘sandwich generation’ – with care responsibilities for young children and ageing parents. While employers are typically mindful of the need to accommodate employees’ childcare responsibilities, care duties towards ageing parents should also be considered. This consideration should extend beyond material factors, such as flexible working, and include the financial, emotional and psychological implications of caring for ageing parents.
Employers, as always, must be mindful of the potential tension between their responsibilities to provide what they consider most appropriate for their employees, with what employees claim they want. And, of course, a company’s benefits programme should always complement broader business goals.
For more information, please contact Chris Rofe on:
+44 (0)20 7933 2876