Employee Health Benefits for Multigenerational Workforces
Providing employee health benefits that meet the total needs of your workforce can be complex. The challenge is that your employees are a diverse group, so they may need (and want) different things from their benefits plan. This is especially true now, when some workforces are comprised of people from four or even five different generations!
Generations in the workforce
It’s important to recognize that often people from different generations have different behaviours and outlooks, both because of generational worldviews and experiences, but also because of their life stage. As a result, employees in a single workforce may have very different priorities, concerns, values and beliefs that influence the employee health benefits they value. Although it is certainly true that everyone is unique, there are usually some “distinctives” for each generation.
Baby Boomers (1946-1964) – Baby boomers represent one of the largest generations ever born. Although many baby boomers have begun to retire or scale back their work, there are still many in the workforce. The baby boomers in the workforce are nearing retiring age. This means they are past the childrearing years and many may be facing health issues related to aging. Life insurance, critical illness and disability coverage may be popular among this demographic.
Generation X (1965-1980) – Generation X is often overlooked, but currently makes up a large portion of the workforce. The oldest of this generation are in their mid 50s, while the youngest in this generation are in their early 40s. Some have children living at home, while others are empty nesters with fewer health conditions than the older baby boomer generation. Life insurance, critical illness and disability coverage may be on the radar for this generation, but wellness and other benefits are also important.
Millennial Generation (1981-1996) – Millennials now make up the largest percentage of the workforce. This generation has been known for shorter workplace tenures and greater mobility. Retirement and age-related health issues are still a long way off for this group. Many have dependent children and are focused on work/life balance. Health benefits such as prescription drug coverage and paramedicals are popular with this demographic. Life insurance and critical illness coverage are usually less sought after for this demographic – but they’re still important!
Generation Z (1997-2012) – The youngest generation entering the workforce is generation Z. This generation is young and many do not yet have dependents. They are still finding their way into the working world, but they often know what they want – and aren’t afraid to share. As a young generation, this group often values great choice in what they receive, as well as higher salaries over benefits, but they still expect basic health and dental benefits. Life insurance and critical illness coverage are not often on the radar for this group – but as with Millennials, they’re still crucial.
Employee Benefits for Your Workforce
It’s clear now that if you have a multigenerational workforce, they are likely going to have different priorities for employee benefits. One of the best ways to approach this challenge is to try to build flexibility into your employee benefit plan. Some options to consider:
- Health Spending Account – Including a health spending account as part of your employee benefit plan is the best way to provide flexibility to your employees. It allows employees to spend their benefit dollars on CRA-eligible health expenses that matter to them. It can be used to cover unpaid portions of other benefits or completely different health needs that aren’t covered under the plan.
- Wellness Spending Account – Working the same way as a health spending account, a wellness spending account can be used for eligible wellness expenses, as determined by the plan sponsor (usually an employer). The premise is to promote a healthy lifestyle, so it can be used toward wellness expenses like gym memberships or fitness classes. This type of employee benefit is typically very popular with the Millennial and Generation Z age group, but employees in all generations can enjoy it.
- Cost sharing for wider coverage – Instead of providing full coverage for fewer benefits, it might make sense to choose cost sharing with employees, offering a broader range of benefits. This can allow generations that value different benefits to perceive good value for a portfolio of coverages.
- Optional benefits – offering optional benefits such as guaranteed issue life insurance or critical illness coverage is one way to give employees access to benefits that are not covered under the plan. If the workforce is mainly composed of Generation Z, offering optional Life Insurance may be one way to also provide full value to older employers.
Growing up in different eras means a multigenerational workforce may prefer different mediums of communication. This is important when communicating information about the employee benefit plan.
While baby boomers may be less comfortable with technology than younger generations, they still value their smartphones, tablets and computers – they’re more tech-savvy than they’re often given credit for. Younger generations may not just prefer tech-driven messages, they may expect it. Employers should look for online services and communications that are both simple and powerful – like GroupHEALTH’s Enrol-Me plan enrolment service, and its online “Member Solutions Centre.”
Good Advice is Key
Are you looking for advice on how to meet the benefit needs of your multigenerational workforce? Do you want a benefit plan that your employees value? Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, or contact us for a comparison quote.